Only once she’s established her plight as an adult does Goetsch reach back into her memories to color in her transition...This structural conceit helps Goetsch reframe her youth: We don’t first meet a boy and then a trans woman. By belatedly meeting the aloof 5-year-old who felt estranged from family, we’re armed with the necessary knowledge to better understand the author’s struggle ... As its title suggests, this achingly beautiful memoir is about a trans woman’s often vexed relationship with her own body ... Goetsch has a poetic sensibility that illuminates without simplifying ... 'What would it be like to be a girl?' That question may have felt immense when she was younger, but here and now, Goetsch presents it with such clarity it bowls one over ... Even as the memoir remains firmly focused on Goetsch, This Body I Wore also tenderly sketches out a history of the budding trans communities that developed in the late 20th century ... Here is an excavated history that endures in the only way it could: in the fleeting memories of those who survived, who endured and who now, like Goetsch, thrive.
By devoting so much space to her life pre-transition, Goetsch muddies the assumption that a clear delineation exists between life before transition and after. Goetsch’s journey is full of stops and starts, and it is neither as repressed nor as conclusive as we may imagine ... Although Goetsch finds ways to give us the essentials, she often gives us gaps on purpose, and this creates tension that spurs us on to read further ... The term 'compulsively readable' conjures up so-called light reads, but in this case, the readability of This Body I Wore in no way takes away from the emotionally charged material nor the complex questions it raises. Befitting of a former English teacher, Goetsch’s prose is clean and meticulous, and she is a demanding narrator, both of herself and of us. This is an extraordinary read that only deepens over time. Goetsch always does justice to the complexities in question, even if it means exposing her deepest flaws and insecurities. Reading This Body I Wore is an emotional experience, and the various complexions and contradictions are felt just as viscerally as they are intellectually. Intellect, after all, can only take us so far, and life’s deepest truths are felt, not reasoned. In this way, Goetsch invites readers to take the rein and to both physically embody her experiences and make our own discoveries.
... moving ... vulnerable, honest, and unabashed, so fully itself; beautiful and poetic and painful, and often very funny—a story of transition, a document of a life. Not an indictment or self-flagellating question of what took so long, but an honest admission — maybe even an honoring — that queer people live their lives on their own timeline. That we come out if and when we’re able, when it’s safe and right, when we have the space, the language, and the models to know who we are, and what we might be.