Link, Aaron Raz 1965- (Sarah Link)
Link, Aaron Raz 1965- (Sarah Link)
Born March 3, 1965, in NE. Education: Graduated from Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre.
Writer, performing artist, curator, and historian of science. Museum of Nature, Portland, OR, director. Has also worked as science educator for the University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Oregon Zoo, and Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
(With Hilda Raz) What Becomes You, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.
Author of blog What Becomes You.
Aaron Raz Link began life as Sarah Link, but always knew he was male and, at age thirty, underwent a surgical sex change. His memoir, What Becomes You, which includes a section written by his mother, Hilda Raz, describes both the science and the personal experience of gender reassignment. A science educator, Link explains that gender classification in human beings is sometimes complicated because of the individual's particular genetic mix. He also explains why transgendered people often feel intensely uncomfortable with their bodies, and are willing to endure the pain and medical risks of surgery to become transsexual. He recounts his own struggles with gender identity through his youth, and his decision to change his name, begin testosterone injections, and undergo a hysterectomy. Surviving the serious complications from that surgery, he went on to have sex-change surgery and to live fully as a man.
Link's story, according to Lambda Book Report contributor Julie R. Enszer, is a "vital contribution to the oeuvre of transgender literature" and a "necessary" story, particularly for those with similar gender identity challenges. What's more, Enszer wrote, "Link provides new ways to think about and understand gender dysphoric experience." As Link shows in the book, a sex-change operation is not only a surgical procedure that the transgendered person undergoes; it is also a procedure of thought that occurs when others realize that they must change their understanding of the transsexual's identity. Those who had known Link as Sarah, for example, had to readjust their understanding of him and learn to know him as a male.
Link also writes about the immense frustrations that transgendered people often experience within the medical establishment. Among such episodes is his encounter with a psychiatrist who refuses to sign a required medical form because Link has not been able to bind his breasts. The memoir, according to San Francisco Bay Guardian Online reviewer Charlie Anders, sensitively conveys the "extent to which someone in a lab coat can make you dance." Describing What Becomes You as a book that "takes the transgender memoir to places it's never gone before," Anders pointed out that the book is not only an analysis of Link's realization of his male identity but is also "an examination of conformity in general."
The inclusion of Hilda Raz's perspective within the book impressed many readers. Raz, a poet and feminist, writes about the pain of losing a daughter and about her guilt at not having recognized that Sarah was really Aaron. She admits that she felt useless to Link, but also celebrates her love for him. For Enszer, Raz "strikes an emotive tone that is both resonant and authentic." Hailing What Becomes You as an intelligent and sensitive examination of gender and sex roles in contemporary society, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide contributor Megan Friddle added that Link and Raz also "strive for an understanding of identity inseparable from individual experience."
Several readers found What Becomes You a strange and quirky book. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly described the book as "hilarious, thoughtful and often poetic, but also frequently challenging" and "weird." Anders called the book the "mutant offspring of transgender autobiography, featuring strange observations, loopy introspection, and the occasional venture into manifesto." For Enszer, Link's fluid and associative prose creates narrative coherence while also exploring metaphorical contexts for the gender themes that are at its center.
After his sex-change operation, Link graduated from the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. He uses performance as a medium through which to educate and entertain audiences about transgender issues. He has also worked as an educator with several organizations, including the University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Oregon Zoo, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. He serves as director of the Museum of Nature in Portland, Oregon.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Link, Aaron Raz, with Hilda Raz, What Becomes You, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Whitney Scott, review of What Becomes You, p. 8.
Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, July-August, 2007, Megan Friddle, review of What Becomes You, p. 43.
Lambda Book Report, summer, 2007, Julie R. Enszer, review of What Becomes You.
Publishers Weekly, December 31, 2007, review of What Becomes You, p. 39.
Creative Nonfiction,http://www.creativenonfiction.org/ (March 15, 2008), Aaron Raz Link profile.
University of Nebraska Press Web site,http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/ (March 15, 2008), author profile.