...attorney and author of BOTH SIDES NOW: One Man's Journey Through Womanhood
“Those of us who preach tolerance and love must first admit and confront our own
intolerance so that we do not perpetuate the very thing we seek to eradicate.” D.K.
Table of Contents:
1 - Biography
2 - Personal Statement from Dhillon
3 - Lecture Topics/Lecture Style
4 - Partial List of Sponsors
5 - Comments on Dhillon
6 - BOTH SIDES NOW-book description and excerpt
7 - Reviews of BOTH SIDES NOW
8 - Reaction to Dhillon’s appearance on “The View”
9 - Booking Information
Dhillon Khosla was born in Brussels, Belgium to an East Indian father and German mother. After spending his childhood in Europe, he and his family emigrated to the United States, and settled in Westport, Connecticut, where he completed his high school education. Thereafter, he traveled westward, earning an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Colorado and a law degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA, graduating as valedictorian in 1994.
Dhillon began his legal career as a staff attorney for the California Supreme Court, and then continued on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he served for over fifteen years as a judicial staff attorney for presidential-appointed judges, analyzing thousands of civil and criminal cases, while lecturing on complex areas of law.
Between 1997 and 1999, while at the federal courts, Dhillon Khosla underwent a full medical transition from female to male, resulting in multiple cutting-edge surgeries which continued for several years and ultimately transformed his inner self as much as his outer one.
Currently, Dhillon is in private appellate practice and provides expert consultations and appellate briefing arguments for law firms and attorney practitioners appointed in both state and federal appeals. As a trained mediator with a background in psychology, he will occasionally assist private and public institutions with sensitive employee-related issues and gender transitioning policies.
Dhillon's journey is documented in his personal memoir entitled, BOTH SIDES NOW: One Man's Journey Through Womanhood (Untreed Reads, 2015), which has been praised by critics for both its compelling narrative and literary quality.
Dhillon Khosla: Personal Statement
“When I was in undergraduate school (University of Colorado, 1987-1991), I majored in Psychology and received a certificate (the equivalent of a minor) in Women's Studies. Throughout my Women's Studies' classes, the instructors advocated the theory that any differences among men and women were purely based on socialization, not biology. To support this point, reliance was placed on the research and writings of Dr. John Money - the surgeon who took a genetic boy following a circumcision accident and attempted to shape him into a girl, physically and socially. What none of us knew at the time was that Dr. Money's experiment was a disaster: the child in the experiment had already switched back to his genetic male identity, after years of turmoil and depression. Dr. Money did not report this to the public, but it eventually became known through the best-selling biography, AS NATURE MADE HIM: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl, by John Colaptino.
Almost a decade later, I confronted my own gender identity and tried to understand why I couldn't shake the cognitive conviction that I was a man despite my female body - a conviction I held since childhood. I kept thinking, if gender is all socialization, then I shouldn't have to change my body; I should be able to overcome this. 'A thousand, feminist-inspired voices rang through my mind, creating a wall of resistance. But eventually one inner voice found its way to the surface -- the one that simply said-- but I want to go home. Please take me home.' And that is the voice I chose to follow.
It took many grueling and in, some cases, life-threatening surgeries, but I finally became the man I dreamed I'd become. And what is most interesting to me, is how after each surgery, I experienced déjà vu as if my mind already had the blueprint for that body. As far as the male culture, the transition was virtually effortless, despite my twenty-plus years of 'female' socialization. And now--after studying volumes of scientific research--I know that my gender identity was already set at birth, most likely shaped via the distribution of hormones during a critical time of fetal development.
I understand the fear in discussing biology when it comes to gender: so many have been damaged by the 'all men are one way and all women the other' mantra when the truth is that the influence of pre-natal hormones plays out in a continuum of gender identity and behavior across our population. However, the rejection of biological influences also causes harm, particularly to people such as David Reimer (Dr. Money's patient) and myself. And so it is time to speak the truth--the whole truth. To that end, I am offering to share my story.
Two months before I signed my first book deal, I found out that David Reimer had committed suicide. I decided to dedicate my book to his memory and can only hope that every time I tell my own truth, I am vindicating his as well. I thank you for your consideration.”
Dhillon’s Personal Journey (Inspirational)
While at the Federal Courts, Dhillon underwent over 15 surgeries over a five-year period. Despite the many grueling complications - one of which almost claimed his life - the process of honoring his true self enhanced every area of his work performance and pulled him into a purpose-driven life. For those who are afraid to address personal issues for fear it will somehow "interfere" with their professional/career goals, this lecture will provide courage and inspiration.
How Understanding The Biology Of Gender Can Set Us All Free
Why are some people so adamant that gender is entirely a socialized construct while others are equally adamant that it is largely a question of biology? Why has the nature/nurture debate persisted through the decades despite major political change? To understand this issue requires a fuller understanding of how our brain "sex" is shaped in the womb.
In reading through the forty years of research on this issue and observing the correlation between individual behavior and politics Dhillon discovered something fascinating: not only do the hormonal variations in the womb shape our identity in multiple dimensions from body image to aggression to gender-typed behavior as reflected in the diverse range of masculinity/femininity on every school playground; these same hormonal variations also impact where we ultimately fall on the nature/nurture debate.
For example, a woman born with a more masculine/androgynous brain and tomboy identity, is more likely to join the feminists who say there are no biological differences between men and women because she herself doesn't think or behave so radically different than the ordinary genetic man. However, a woman born on the more extreme feminine end of the spectrum (that typical "girly-girl” on the playground) will be more likely to embrace the notion that men and women are biologically different because she intuitively senses a dramatic gap between herself and the typical man. Understanding that we each arrive with a basic blueprint in our brains can allow us to:
1-free ourselves from the notion that there is such as thing as one "perfect" or "superior" man or woman and instead search for our own true inner nature; and,
2-stop blaming ourselves if we cannot stretch our identities beyond a certain point and instead find partners/spouses who accept us as we are.
True Tolerance vs. Political Correctness
Currently tolerance is seen as accepting someone who is outside of mainstream culture and politics. Thus, certain political groups are able to claim greater "tolerance" than others. However, it is easy to be accepting of those who share our identity, political platforms, and personal tastes. What is difficult is setting aside our own personal preferences and agenda long enough to see and accept another for who they truly are. Dhillon's journey through both sides of the gender divide has made him intimately aware of this.
Sexual Harassment, Gender And The Law
In a recent survey, 62% of college students reported some form of sexual harassment. The survey re-ignited the debate over what constitutes "sexual harassment" and once again highlighted the different perceptions held by men and women. These differing views are reflected in our legal system as courts across the country continue to grapple with whether to measure harassment from the traditional "reasonable person" legal standard or whether to employ a "reasonable woman" standard.
Dhillon's 15 years of professional experience as a judicial staff attorney for judges who shape the law gives him the ability to clearly explain the case law surrounding this issue, while his personal experience of having lived a life in each gender has made him intimately aware of just how difficult it is to negotiate boundaries in the workplace when the same comment and behavior is viewed differently depending on who is hearing it and who is saying it.
With almost two decades experience in public speaking on both legal and gender related issues, as well as presenting over one thousand cases to federal judges of varying backgrounds, Dhillon Khosla has an ease and comfort in speaking to large and small audiences as well as fielding the most challenging of questions. Indeed, he finds it most rewarding to engage with those who are either newly exposed to gender transitions or simply skeptical or reticent in being asked to attend yet another “diversity” training.
What makes Khosla’s style unique is his use of highly personal vs. political language, and his unfaltering belief that we are each here to be mutual allies in the universal struggle towards self-acceptance, rather than simply making one group a witness to the other.
If you are seeking the more traditional type of diversity training with lists of terminology, sophisticated power-point presentations, and small group exercises, you have a wide pool of seasoned professionals from which to choose. Khosla is not one of them. However, if you are seeking someone who will step-by-step share his personal experience from a place so open and vulnerable that each audience member will be left with the sense that they have not only walked a mile in his shoes, but that something familiar within themselves has been stirred or illuminated, then this is a promise he
can and will deliver.
Partial List of Sponsors
University of Florida
University of San Diego
University of Colorado
Out and Equal
Gender Identity Center (CO)
California State Bar Association
East West Bookstore (CA)
Barnes and Noble
Toyota Motor Sales USA
Council for Federal Bureau of Prisons
Comments on Dhillon Khosla
“…Khosla] gave the keynote address for the Day of Silence observance at the University of San Diego . . . Despite initial resistance from the administration, this event at a Roman Catholic university was a resounding success, with more than two hundred students, staff, faculty, and administrators attending…Mr. Khosla was the first person who had undergone gender reassignment surgery most of the audience had ever met, and he immediately upended the sensationalistic expectations created by daytime talk shows and other popular media. We were moved, inspired, and empowered by his words and being. Light and grace radiate from within him, and no one was untouched. He speaks with humor, humility, and authenticity about his struggles and triumphs in becoming the man he was born to be…His openness of spirit quelled any hostility members of the audience may have harbored. He is an amazing role model for our university community that wrestles with questions of belief and practice. We are grateful for the gift of his presence and we unreservedly recommend him.”
Evelyn Kirkley, Associate Professor, Theology & Religious Studies & Advisor, PRIDE
“The Colorado Gold Rush is a national conference produced by the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. . . We had the pleasure of having Mr. Dhillon Khosla as our keynote speaker for Friday evening. His speech was so well received that for many it was the highlight of the entire four days. Mr. Khosla provided an insightful, provocative, and intelligent point of view, but it was his ability to personalize his message that elevated it beyond our expectation. He delivered his message with passion and warmth. Our attendees are widely varied and range from surgeons and other health care professionals to community activists and average community members.
Each evaluation returned cited Mr. Khosla’s keynote address as a highlight of the conference and many even named it as their favorite moment. We wholeheartedly recommend Dhillon Khosla as a motivational speaker. After hearing his keynote our guests as well as our board felt challenged, uplifted, and inspired.”
Eden Lane-Chairwoman and Board Member, Gender Identity Center of Colorado
“This letter is my personal thanks for you presentation at the State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Conference. I knew I had been compelled by your life experiences after reading your autobiography…After the program I heard many positives about what a wonderful speaker those commenting found you. But perhaps the best measurement for me was my view of the audience: I was able to study the audience while you spoke and rarely have I seen an audience sit so still, absolutely transfixed by what you had to say and how you said it.”
Wendy P. Rouder, Chair, Labor & Employment Law Section Executive Committee
“Please extend a very warm thank you to Dhillon Khosla from East West Bookstore! I’ve had several customers actually come in the store to thank me for having him come and say that they were so profoundly affected by his talk and able to relate. Having him tell his story helped them beyond description.
We would love to have Dhillon back sometime next spring if he’s going to be in the area. In the meantime, please do reiterate the positive life-changing feedback we’ve received after his event, as well as a heartfelt thank you.”
Diane Schneider, Events Manager, East West Bookstore/Mountainview
Book Description - BOTH SIDES NOW
BOTH SIDES NOW is a vivid and compelling account of how one man’s search for wholeness led him through multiple, complex, and life-threatening surgeries that transformed him not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Born with the body of a female, Dhillon Khosla knew very early on that his true identity was male, yet he spent nearly two decades repressing that knowledge and trying to embrace his female form. Shortly after turning twenty-eight, he came across an article about men born with female bodies who had undergone surgeries to reclaim their male identity. When he read their stories, Khosla felt flashes of recognition stirring within and—for the first time—hope.
In this riveting memoir, Khosla discusses openly and honestly what it was like to live as a woman, and how that life shaped the man he is today. Through anecdotes, he shares unique and profound insights into the sexes. Ultimately, however, BOTH SIDES NOW is a story about what it means to truly love oneself, and the willingness to turn away from the dissenting voices that tell us who we ought to be…and toward that one, lone voice that has known all along.
Excerpt from - BOTH SIDES NOW
It was the middle of July 1997—I was driving to Los Angeles from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in a one-week program sponsored by a music school. I was twenty-eight years old, and one of many women who had recently graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. By day I worked as a staff attorney for federal judges, analyzing criminal appeals and researching law behind the scenes. But in order to restore some balance into my legal life, I had begun working on music in my spare time. So, by night I took voice lessons, studied songwriting, performed at open-mike nights, and composed songs on my guitar and keyboard. And in between my music and the law, I dated women—some of them within the lesbian community, and some of them not.
I had been working on putting together a demo in a local studio for about a year, and as much as I was looking forward to finally having a full week to work on music without the interruption of law, my mind was occupied with something entirely different.
A few months earlier, an ex-girlfriend brought over a copy of an article that had appeared in The New Yorker in 1994. She had been given the article in a psychology class, after a female-to-male transsexual had appeared as a guest lecturer. In the article, the author interviewed several men who had gone through surgeries and hormone treatments to transition from female to male. And as I read the things these men had said, I immediately saw why my ex had asked me to read the piece. Flashes of recognition went off in my mind, arranging themselves like the pieces of a puzzle.
I read as one man described his fierce resistance to being treated as a girl and I thought of my own childhood when I had insisted that I was a boy, adamantly refusing dolls and dresses and hanging out only with other boys during recess.
I read as another man—who had made the transition from female—said that he never fit in the lesbian community because he was too male in some way—not “butch”—just male, and I remembered how lost I always felt at lesbian gatherings because there was no one with whom I felt that “sameness.” I then thought about the girlfriends in my life who had always identified themselves as straight and wondered why I was the one exception—the only “woman “ to whom they were attracted.
And then, in the final interview, I read as a man talked about all the wasted time he had spent in places where he didn’t fit. He ended by saying he didn’t know why this condition chose him, but he was finally the person he had always dreamed he would be.
The word “dream” hit me the hardest of all. I had spent so much of my childhood dreaming of developing a firm, male chest. I remember running around shirtless at my birthday parties and fantasizing that I was a pop/rock star like Billy Joel or Rod Stewart—always men. And in the past few years, when those fantasies and dreams had resurfaced, I couldn’t think of anything to do except pray that God would make me a man in my next life.
Between the interviews, my ex-girlfriend had highlighted statements from doctors where they opined as to the cause of transsexualism. One doctor pointed out that in experiments with animals—from rats to apes—they injected testosterone during a critical time of brain development in a female fetus. In every case, while the animal still came out with a female body, it behaved exactly the same as would have any male animal of its species. In other words, contrary to its physical body, it believed it was entirely male.
But it wasn’t until I gave the article to my current girlfriend, Selena, that I really felt its full impact. I remember her putting it down after she had finished reading it and saying, “Baby, this is you.”
To hear it out loud, to have someone finally hold up a mirror that reflected back the truth of who I am, touched some deep place within me. I remember feeling this tremendous sense of release—like “Now you see; you finally see.”
The relief, however, was short-lived. Next came the tough question: Now that I knew the truth, what was I going to do about it?
Copyright © 2015 Untreed Reads
Reviews of - BOTH SIDES NOW
"For its wealth of detail, as well as its compelling and inspiring narrative, this work belongs on the shelves of both public and academic libraries."
"Keen observation, warmth, and humor make Khosla's journey most readable."
"With a wide reach for the implications of not only gender transitioning but gendered perceptions, and sensitivity to his own and others' experiences, Khosla, who is also a singer-songwriter, writes intimately and engagingly."
Women's Book Store (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
“BOTH SIDES NOW was one of our best-selling titles this month. I myself could not put it down -- it is beautifully written, truthful -- the words come from the right place."
Kathleen Caldwell - Owner, A Great Good Place for Books
Reaction to Dhillon Khosla’s
appearance on “The View”
Dhillon Khosla Before (1991)
Dhillon Khosla After (2005)
“Listening to you speak, full of simplicity and balance, made me feel honored to hear a piece of your life story. You radiate an aura of completeness and tranquility. Thank you for your honesty and embracing outlook. All the best to you now and in the future.”
“Rarely do I watch television so when I walked into my daughters room to turn it off and heard you speak during the last 2 minutes of your interview I just had to send you my heart felt wishes for a wonderful future. I work with orphaned children and cancer units in the Middle East and I found in your strength and openness a light I can't explain. Thank you for doing the show and thank heaven I happened to see you. Be well and know you have inspired me to go deeper into my own soul.”
“I just saw you on 'The View' and feel compelled to contact you. I can't tell you how impressed I am by your story-I am truly touched. Your courage to be your authentic self is inspiring. Your honest communication and wonderful presence has, I'm sure, helped to educate and enlighten many. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.”
Sincerely, Laurie MA, NCC
“Having just watched 'The View', I felt that I just had to contact you. I was so moved by your story and by your candid demeanor. To me, it was evident that you are a man in the most intrinsic sense. It was wonderful to hear from a person who calmly and with such dignity conveyed the very basic outlines of such a complex issue in a personal context. You were credible not because of the fact that you are a "professional", rather because of the serenity you exhibited while volunteering to tell your story.”
“I just saw you on “The View” and wanted to thank you for telling your story in such an open and intelligent way. I can only imagine what you’ve been through… I don’t know, maybe I can’t. All I know is that similar stories of people finding their “true selves” by altering their bodies always left me a little cold. I always felt that they had deeper issues that weren’t resolved by such extreme measures. You have really opened my eyes…”
Warm regards, Leah
“The way you spoke about your life was so deep, intelligent and powerful. I wish you the best of luck with your new book, and hope the best for you. You are a beautiful and truly wonderful person for your openness and strength.”
Very sincerely, Ron
“You are a brave and wonderful man. You were so powerful and genuine and inspiring during that segment. I have a 6-week old daughter with Down Syndrome. People like you will help her to have a beautiful life. Thank you for sharing.”
For additional background information on Dhillon Kosla, including video clips, please go to his personal web site, click here.
To book Dhillon Khosla for speeches, panel discussions and extended seminars, please contact:
MasterMedia Speakers Bureau
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Easthampton, MA 01027-2577
800-453-2887 Phone (USA)
413-529-1769 Phone (Outside USA)
888-359-1647 Fax (USA)
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