Both Sides of the Fire Line: Memoir of a Transgender Firefighter

Chicago Review. Sept. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781641608060. $28.99. MEMOIR
Designated male at birth, Scopa, as a child, knew her gender identity did not align. In a traditional and religious family in the 1960s, however, pushing back seemed impossible. Desperate to maintain the role that was expected of her, Scopa began working summers as a firefighter in hopes that the tough, dangerous work would bolster her masculine facade. While those summer jobs became a full-time profession that she loved, and the adrenaline-fueled life helped distract from her internal conflict for a time, eventually Scopa reached a crisis point where she needed to live as her true self or collapse entirely. Open and straightforward, Scopa’s memoir comingles her work as a firefighter, who battled deadly wildfires and the aftermath of 9/11, with the more intimate narrative of her mental and emotional struggles with gender dysphoria and the effects—both positive and negative—of transitioning on her personal and professional life.
VERDICT A deeply personal account of a unique life and the bravery it takes to be the person one is meant to be.
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