Patricia Nell Warren

Zenker's Extraordinary TransMontana [Review]

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | August 29, 2012 1:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Bobbie Zenker, Montana, Roberta Zenker, transgender

transmontana.jpegRoberta Zenker's book TransMontana continues to get attention as she tours the Northwest. It was published first as a Kindle e-book, then recently in a paperback edition as well. Bobbie's recent appearances include an interview on Brian Kahn's popular "Home Ground" radio show.

The book cover says it all. It portrays the author standing on a granite boulder, against a background of alpine meadow and Montana timber, with her hair blowing in the wind and her arms raised in victory.

No better way to sum up the story of a Montanan who started life as a rugged man. He loved the law and politics and became a county attorney, with a love of hunting and hiking the Rockies on the side.

In his heart, though, this man knew he was really a woman. And she became a woman in 2007 - the first and so far the only transgender lawyer in Montana history.

Zenker writes: "I realized that gender transition, even under the best of circumstances, is unequivocal and unforgiving. It required of me everything I had, and then some. I was still paying for it. Yet, there was no compromise, no half measure. I had to make my way in the world as a woman, or not at all."

Bobbie and I first met in July 2011, when I visited my home state to do an "Out West" program with author/filmmaker Gregory Hinton at the Bozeman Public Library.

We got to chat with Bobbie at a soiree at a friend's home, and I was first impressed by the granite calm that she keeps wrapped about her. But granite has a warm sparkle to it - in Bobbie, that sparkle is also impressive, as a sense of humor that doesn't quit.

Montanans like to call their state the "last best place," and Bobbie's story is one of the best to come out of that place. Indeed, I think that TransMontana is one of the best ever in its genre.

Yet the story couldn't have happened in any other part of the U.S., I think. As a native Montanan, whose family have been rooted there for many generations, I'm well acquainted with the state's traditional, conservative and embedded attitudes about gender. So is Bobbie - she spent most of her life in Montana, and battled with every one of those attitudes, and won. Victory included finding employment after the transition.

She writes: "I was finally able to get a job as a woman, signifying the completion of my transition into mainstream American womanhood."

TransMontana is available at in both e-book and paperback editions. More information on Bobbie and her civil-rights work in Montana at her website.

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