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contributing editor: William E. Parker


Los Angeles, CA—"They were all baby girls when they were born.  They wore pink hospital bracelets with names like Tammy and Elizabeth and Kathryn…now they are sons, brothers, boyfriends, partners, husbands and dads."  Even in a world of seemingly endless possibilities, this statement, written by Cherie Hiser and taken from the preface to Dean Kotula's astounding new book The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals (Alyson Publications, July 2002) seems outlandish.


Unless it's your reality. 


"Manhood for me is the stuff of dreams.  I knew I was a boy—a male—from my first consciously aware moment," writes Michael, a transitioned FTM, one of 19 men whose first person accounts of their feelings, motivations, and transitions make up the center section of this book.  It is these stories, and Kotula's remarkable black and white photos, which accompany them, that force the reader to confront their own perceptions of gender, and the limitations of society's current concepts of it.


Their stories provide the human faces to the more intensely detailed, academic and medical essays and interviews, which lead up to them.  Included in this first section are noted gender specialist Katherine Rachlin's essay, FTM 101: Dispelling Myths about the Invisible and Impossible, Diane Ellaborn's Seeking Manhood: An Introductory Guide to Assessment of the Female-to-Male Adolescent, and Kotula's own exceedingly in depth interview with Milton Diamond, Ph.D..


As revealing and moving as the stories are however, as fascinating and informative the essays and interviews, Kotula takes us one step closer to this subject than anyone ever has before.  There is a harder reality to this story, one that does not reveal itself clearly in the amazing, "wow, can you believe it" before and after photographs. 


In order for these men to leave behind the body they were trapped in, and become the physical embodiment of their true selves, they must first go through not just hormone therapy, but agonizingly invasive sex reassignment surgeries.  These are documented in The Phallus Palace through interviews with two of the leading surgeons in this field: Toby R. Meltzer and James J. Reardon, and through Kotula's intense and shocking, photographs of these procedures.


This portion of the book is almost unbearable.  But in examining these procedures, reading about what they mean, and seeing the reality of the procedure known as Radial Forearm Phalloplasty, you realize something very clearly.  No one would go through this, unless their lives depended on it.  These are life saving procedures.


As Kotula writes in his introduction to this section, "The knowledge and understanding that these surgeries were desperately needed and took extraordinary means to obtain, helped to offset my response to the invasive nature of the procedures.  When I joined these men in their recovery rooms, I could see the relief and exhilaration in their eyes, even through the heavy sedation and the aftermath of physical trauma."


In it's six concise sections, Perspectives and Viewpoints I, The Men, Perspectives and Viewpoints II, The Surgeries, Gender Memories, Perspectives and Viewpoints III, The Phallus Palace leads the reader through the amazing journey transsexuals must take to reconcile their inner selves with their physical bodies. 


Open, informed, honest, shocking, even confrontational, but ultimately healing, The Phallus Palace is a bold exploration of the social, historical, medical, and psychological concerns of transsexuality.


I am that I am

Repeated 100 times

I can be nothing other than what I am.

Times 62 and 1/2.

So much changes, ages, grows, and dies in life,

But in every instance I have been a man.

OK, not exactly; I wasn't a man when I was a boy.

I sing. I cry. I laugh.

I've loved and I've felt such hate I thought it would burn me in two.

I've begged for an early death and I've prayed to live 120 years.

When I was young, I was scared of the dark

like a lot of other boys.

I suppose it took me 18 years to accept the unknown demons lurking in the shadows.

Is this where I mention I'm single?

—Jericho, page 64




The  Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals

by Dean Kotula

ISBN: 1-55583-654-2    $19.95    Paper    Gender Studies

July 2002

Alyson Publications    WWW.ALYSON.COM


To schedule an interview with Dean Kotula, contact Dan Cullinane at

(323) 860-6045 or dcullina@alyson.com.