SELF-ish: A Transgender Awakening

SELF-ish: A Transgender Awakening

A memoir by Chloe Schwenke

publication date: May 4, 2018

SELF-ish is a narrative drawn from an international life, beginning with some early glimpses out at the world by a girl in a boy’s body. Chloe Schwenke was raised as Stephen in a Marine Corps family, and was sent off at age fourteen to “man-up” at a military academy. Later—and still embodied as a man—she ventured abroad to work in some of the roughest regions of Africa, the Gaza Strip, Turkey, and many other locales. Her far-flung global journey was matched in intensity by an inner identity and spiritual struggle, and the associated ravages of depression, before she came to the revelation of being a transgender woman. At a time when many Americans are just waking up to the reality of the transgender phenomenon, this portrayal of Chloe’s life, her challenging gender transition, and her many accomplishments and adventures along the way, creates a poignant story of authenticity, self-discovery, and the meaning of gender set against a fascinating international backdrop.


“Chloe Schwenke’s SELF-ish takes the reader through a powerful, heart-wrenching journey of the innumerable, daunting challenges of gender transition confronted by a transgender woman. It is ultimately also a story of extraordinary courage in persevering through formidable odds to be true to oneself. She underscores the moral, human, and societal imperative to confront and ameliorate the challenges faced by transgender people, and others marginalized by mainstream society.”

Sanjay Pradhan, CEO, Open Government Partnership

“Chloe Schwenke’s SELF-ish is the incredible personal story of her path to becoming a high ranking transgender person in the Obama Administration… It is also a journey into the very core of what it means to be human and the importance of being true to oneself. Her life story reaffirms the basic dignity of every human being and lifts us all as we strive to become more fully human ourselves.”

Carrie Hessler-Radelet, former Peace Corps Director, current CEO/President of Project Concern International

“Schwenke broke a glass ceiling as the first openly transgender person to serve a US president in a foreign affairs role… She opens up her story of self-discovery and achievement to give everyone a window into the life of a remarkable transgender American.”

Mary Beth Maxwell, Senior Vice President, Human Rights Campaign


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