Lucy Sante writes about her transition in 'I Heard Her Call My Name' In 2021, Sante, who was assigned male at birth, was playing around with a face-altering app and she had a breakthrough. Her new memoir is I Heard Her Call My Name.

A gender-swapping photo app helped Lucy Sante come out as trans at age 67

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TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Tonya Mosley. Who am I? - is a question writer Lucy Sante has been asking herself for the better part of her life. As she writes in a new book titled "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition," Sante describes how she found herself in the unlikeliest of places in 2021 through a gender-swapping feature on FaceApp, which allowed her to turn pictures of herself as a man into a woman. Throughout her life, she says, changing genders was a strange and electric idea that lived somewhere in the recesses of her mind for the better part of 67 years.

Lucy Sante, who was assigned male at birth, is known for her incisive criticism and cultural commentary for the New York Review of Books. She's also written nine books that explores subcultures and urban history, including "Low Life: Lures And Snares Of Old New York," "Evidence," a collection of rarely seen New York Police Department evidence photographs taken in the 1900s, and "The Other Paris," a look at the French capital's underbelly. Sante recently retired from Bard College, where she had been a visiting professor of photography and writing for over two decades. Lucy Sante, welcome to FRESH AIR.

LUCY SANTE: Thank you, Tonya. Glad to be here.

MOSLEY: Can I have you take us to February of 2021, when you wrote to around 30 of your closest friends in an email with a subject line that read, "A Bombshell." Can I have you read the first page of that letter?

SANTE: Of course.

(Reading) The dam burst on February 16 when I uploaded FaceApp for a laugh. I had tried the application a few years earlier, but something had gone wrong and it had returned a badly botched image. But I had a new phone, and I was curious. The gender-swapping feature was the whole point for me, and the first picture I passed through it was the one I had tried before, taken for that occasion.

This time it gave me a full-face portrait of a Hudson Valley woman in mid-life - strong, healthy, clean living. She also had lovely flowing chestnut hair and a very subtle makeup job. And her face was mine, no question about it - nose, mouth, eyes, brows, chin. Barring a hint of enhancement here or there, she was me. When I saw her, I felt something liquefy in the core of my body. I trembled from my shoulders to my crotch. I guessed that I had at last met my reckoning.

MOSLEY: Lucy, thank you so much for reading that. You uploaded these photos of yourself on February 16 of 2021. And less than 12 days later, you are essentially ready to let the world know about this big, life-altering thing about you. What do you think it was about those altered photographs that unlocked this intense need to come out and let everyone know? Because at this time, you were about 67 years old.

SANTE: Yeah. Well, it was seeing - you know, I had to collect these photographs from all over the house. They were in boxes and albums and baskets here and there. Not that many pictures - I've always been camera-shy, but - well, first of all, it took all this time to collect them.

MOSLEY: Yeah.

SANTE: And that's a point because I realized - I didn't even - this is something I - a realization I came to very recently. I had a time lock on my trans ideation. You know, if I...

MOSLEY: What do you mean? Yeah.

SANTE: I mean that I would think about it for an hour or two, fantasize, whatever, and then some internal mechanism would force my thoughts in a different direction. And, you know, because I spent so much of my life trying to avoid - I mean, I never, like, cross-dressed because I knew it was going to be a one-way trip. And when - but when I saw these pictures that represented my whole life, really, beginning around age 10 or so, and furthermore, in this eerie kind of way, the app seemed to know what my fashion choices and hairstyles would have been all those years. It was uncanny. And I was given this evidence. It was irrefutable. Plus, I'd broken through that time limit and I had no choice. I came out to my shrink 10 days later.

MOSLEY: Wow. So yeah, it took you a quite a while to compile all of these photographs. We're going to get to that term, one-way trip, because I want to talk a little bit more about that. But when you uploaded these photos on FaceApp, it also did something else for you. You not only saw yourself in them, it allowed you to go back in time and revisit these memories of what it would have been like, those moments in time, had you been a girl - essentially rewriting memories.

SANTE: Well, yeah, heavily rewriting them, total alternative timeline, because as I also point out in the book, if I had in fact been born female, my life story would have been very different. Because, you know, my relationship with my parents would have been different. My first - I had a very difficult family situation, and I was happy to escape. And my escape was provided by a scholarship to an all-boys Jesuit high school in Manhattan when I was 14. And that would not have happened if I'd been a girl.

MOSLEY: I mean, at the time that you wrote that email to your closest friends, you also came out to your wife, your partner, and your son...

SANTE: Yes.

MOSLEY: ...And then quickly walked it back. How come you walked it back when you had such a resolve to let everyone else know?

SANTE: Well, I knew that my romantic relationship would not survive this. We're still best friends, but I knew that the romance part was not going to survive. And furthermore, I felt - and this had been a major inhibitive factor for decades, which is that I like girls, and I figured that this would repel them. And since I had been given the proof of this repulsion by my partner, I was trying to talk myself back into the closet.

MOSLEY: How is your relationship with your son? How did your son react to it?

SANTE: Oh, he was totally chill because he's Gen Z. My son is now 24. He is, as I'm fond of saying, straight as a highway in Texas.

MOSLEY: (Laughter).

SANTE: But he's known trans kids since he was 11. He went to - you know, he went to middle school in Woodstock. He did LARPing, live action role playing, which really brings out the trans kids. So he was - he didn't bat an eyelash. His only concern was what he should call me.

MOSLEY: What does he call you?

SANTE: Nothing. He refers to me as Lucy to other people. He's never called me that to my face. And - but he - you know, in fact, when I came out to him, I said, just keep calling me Dad. You have a mom. You know, I don't want to go bother that that particular relationship. But quickly, I mean, within six months, it was no longer - calling me Dad was no longer really tenable.

MOSLEY: When you first transitioned, you worried that somehow the name change from your deadname to Lucy...

SANTE: Right.

MOSLEY: ...Would change your reputation for those who knew you by your deadname, which we often refer to as the former name of someone who has transitioned.

SANTE: I like the term deadname a lot. People are freaked out by it, though. But it was a preoccupation, and it seems so weird to me now. I mean, how - why would I think that this would present any kind of difference in my career? I mean, for one thing, my name is so unusual. My last name is rare. You know, and I'm only changing one letter. But some - the fact is that that was a kind of cover for a deeper existential reckoning with myself, you know, this unstable personality because, well, first of all, having come here as an immigrant child and learning to speak English, being the only immigrant kid around, trying to pass myself off as an American, trying to speak English and speak - learning English, and then trying to get rid of my accent as quickly as I could - all of these...

MOSLEY: Because your family was from Belgium. Yes.

SANTE: Yeah. My family was from Belgium. So that was, you know, my first attempt at passing, as it were. And I guess there's always been a kind of unstable relation between my inner self and what I show the world. And so changing my name rather than changing my gender per se, it was changing my name that set off this weird kind of existential freefall. Like, who am I, you know? - just this bizarre uncertainty that manifested as this completely ridiculous fear.

MOSLEY: There a flood of memories that came to you, which is the basis of this book, that really showed you that all along you had been subconsciously aware of your being. And I'm curious, though, in 1998, you wrote a memoir called "The Factory Of Facts," and in it, you take the reader through your family's history in Belgium - the language, religion, your parents, your childhood, your career. You are there on the page, but you dodge, as you say, self-depiction. How do you look back at that memoir?

SANTE: It's an interesting piece of writing, you know? The first chapter is the one that became well known, in which I present the pivotal experience of my family when the bottom dropped out of local industry in our hometown in Belgium. And we're faced with this choice. And so I present nine different versions, one which is the true one, and eight fictitious resolutions to this problem. But for the rest of it, I was dodging self-depiction. And it's clear to me now, and it's a weakness of the book.

And the fact is that, you know - I mean, I've recently realized from writing this book, in which most of my close friends make appearances, and I'd never really been able to write about people before because somehow there was a chain of constraints, beginning with the fact that I was trying to hide the secret, also prevented intimacy. And that even included intimacy on the page. So everything I wrote was - you know, it was nicely written, deeply researched, blabbity blah, but it lacked that personal quality because I was unready to face who I was.

MOSLEY: You say you didn't want to be seen because you didn't know who you were.

SANTE: That's right.

MOSLEY: Did you ever think that maybe maintaining this secret, though, was in opposition of your profession as a truth teller?

SANTE: Well, yeah. That's, you know - I told myself regularly how I was being a hypocrite. And I'm not in favor of hypocrisy as a general rule. You know, I make a practice of being honest. And, well, the interesting thing is that since I've transitioned, I've become brutally honest.

MOSLEY: Oh, really?

SANTE: I can't lie anymore. I tend to speak my mind, sometimes a little too loudly and indecorously. But in any event, yeah, I was painfully aware of that - you know, that gap, that - between intention and actual result. And it's really set me free as a writer as well, I think, now.

MOSLEY: Right. I mean, I'm just wondering because you are a deeply curious person with very specific interests. Your books span across many topics - photography, reviving worlds that have been lost with time through photography. And you write about these subcultures and the underbelly of society. Do you think your writing might have been different had you transitioned earlier - your approach, the subjects that you take on and, of course, as you said, maybe people on the page?

SANTE: Yeah. That latter fact, especially - that's crucial. I - you know, I'm still not sure I have a very good sense of story, but I definitely would have written, I think more intimately more about people - fictional or otherwise - had I transitioned earlier. That's quite possible because - yeah, I mean, my - probably my preoccupations might still be the same, which is I might - I'm deeply preoccupied with memory and time above all. That - those are the two subjects that run through all my writing, and that might have still been the case. But they might have been a little refocused, maybe warmer and less distant than they are.

MOSLEY: Let's take a short break. If you're just joining us, we're talking with writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante about her new book, "I Heard Her Call My Name: a memoir of transition." We'll continue our conversation after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. And today we're talking to writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante. Her latest book is called "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." Sante announced her transition in 2021, at 67 years old. Sante is known for her incisive criticism and cultural commentary for The New York Review of Books and various other publications, including The New York Times, Harpers, The Village Voice, Artforum and Vogue. She's also written nine books.

What a time you were in in the '70s and '80s in New York City. As you mentioned, like, you were around people who were strung out. You were also in the company of emerging artists and creatives that we've come to know, the likes of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, for instance. And there was also a transgender population that was visible during that time period. How did you view and interact with them?

SANTE: I didn't. I - you know, it's funny because I was close to Nan Golden. We actually dated for about a week. And when Greer Lankton - the artist Greer Lankton - who's trans, became her roommate, I was terrified. I avoided her. You know, the idea of an actual trans woman just scared living daylights out of me. They were going to take me by the hand and pulled me across the line, and I wasn't ready, and, oh, my God. And...

MOSLEY: But you were aware - 'cause that's interesting. That takes a certain amount of awareness to know that that fear, that's the reason why you feared it. Or is that upon reflection?

SANTE: No, no. This was happening at the time. And then, actually, when I was writing "Low Life," I had an office a block away from Tompkins Square Park. And at that point, every year there would be a thing in Tompkins Square Park called Wigstock, which was a celebration of all things gender-bending. You know, trans women, drag queens - there wasn't that much of a distinction made in those days. I could hear the festivities from my office, but I never - I'd wait until everybody had gone home before I'd slink back up the side of the park to my apartment. I was scared, you know? The Pyramid Club was half a block from my office, and that was the epicenter of all things drag in the Lower East Side at the time. I never set foot in that club, not once. It was really, like, a big, big job of avoidance that I was doing in those days.

MOSLEY: Was it part of that thing you describe, that - what did you call it? - one-way ticket or, like, a point of...

SANTE: Yeah.

MOSLEY: ...No return?

SANTE: Yes. I mean - and, you know, of course, the irony is that I simultaneously yearned for that. I yearned for somebody to come along and take my hand and pull me across the line, even though I knew people who I was terrified that they might do that. You know, this is the kind of internal war that just raged in me for decades.

MOSLEY: You describe yourself as never really one of the guys.

SANTE: Yeah.

MOSLEY: It always felt like a performance. And yet you didn't have a lot of women friends. Most of them were romantic. So what kinds of male friends did you connect the most with?

SANTE: Well, I mean, I really had very few friends of any kind until I was in college. I did not start meeting girls until my middle teens. I went to Catholic schools where, generally, the genders were segregated. I didn't have any girlfriends in the neighborhood, you know, playmates. And, of course, I had no family over here at all. And for guys - well, you know, I'd occasionally meet some other guy who also read books. It happened.

And it really took until I was in college when I suddenly started meeting people with backgrounds very different from mine, but somehow, we had something crucial in common. And I've had this friend cluster since - you know, since 1972, pretty much - I mean, some people added in the next few years. But, you know, my crowd is like - it's probably fewer than a dozen people held together by sensibility, something like that, 'cause we're men and women, gay and straight, Black and white. And yet we all have something in common that I don't think any of us could really define. And that's what I needed from life.

MOSLEY: Has it opened up maybe a sense of intimacy with these friends that you've had for a long time, but they didn't really know you? They didn't know the core of you because this fundamental part of you you were keeping a secret. How has - how have your friendships changed?

SANTE: Yeah. That's definitely true. I mean, there're definitely people with whom friendship has blossomed in the last couple of years, and people from my past who've come back, partly as a consequence of all this, you know? Two women who I was very close to in high school, I'm very close to again now, after many years of not really communicating. And I can feel that there are tensions in friendships that have relaxed all of a sudden. And I'm just better at talking to people now because I'm not hiding anything.

You know, my - I was inhibited from real intimacy with really anybody because at any moment, I could blab the wrong thing, you know? It's like my terror of talking in my sleep, my terror of inadvertently, you know, starting a subject line that might somehow lead to the doorway of gender. This haunted me for all these decades. So I think I'm probably a better friend with all of my friends than I was before this.

MOSLEY: Let's take a short break. If you're just joining us, we're talking with writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante. She's written a new book called "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." We'll be right back. I'm Tonya Mosley, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME")

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: (Singing) Ever since I was on cripple Monday, I've got my eyeballs on my knees, aw, baby, walking. I rapped for hours with Mad Mary Williams. She said she never understood a word from me because I know that she cares about me. I heard her call my name - heard her call my name. And I know she's long dead and gone - heard her call my name.

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Tonya Mosley, and we're talking to writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante. Her latest book is called "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." Sante announced her transition in 2021 at 67 years old. She's written nine books exploring subcultures and urban history, including "Low Life: Lures And Snares Of Old New York," "Evidence," a collection of rarely seen New York City Police Department evidence photos taken in the 1900s, and "The Other Paris," a look at the underbelly of the French capital. In 2022, Sante retired from Bard College after teaching there for 23 years.

I thought you wrote so clearly the differences in how you feel in a group or in the company of men now as your true self versus how you were when you were presenting as male. It almost felt like when you'd walk into a room of all men - not peacocking, but maybe like there was a defense mechanism, there was an armor that you had to put on. And can you describe that and then in contrast to what it feels like now for you?

SANTE: Well, yeah, I mean, being around guys, except for certain select guys - and in fact, I had, you know, a lot of gay male friends, many of whom died of AIDS, you know, like, half of them at least. But most guys - if I went into a room of football fans, I was - you know, I was on my guard. I did not feel comfortable. And now it's a different matter because, well, I'm an old woman, so most guys do not register me at all, and I'm able to observe them at my leisure. And what I see - you know what used to be a kind of constant chiding, you know, this constant demonstration of how I was falling short, this is how guys behave and you're not doing that and this is why girls don't take you - whatever. Now I look at men performing and all this behavior that goes on, this making themselves more manly than they might actually be, it's really very funny and - but it's such a completely different experience. It's, you know, I'm like I say in the book, it's like reading a familiar text in a different language, perhaps the original. Yeah, I don't know how better to say it than that. It's - I'm seeing and experiencing things I've seen and experienced a million times, but with a completely different lens now.

MOSLEY: I'm really interested to know about the messages and letters you get from men, because after you went public, you heard from all sorts of people with various reactions. And some of the interesting ones - all of them, I'm sure, are very interesting, but you get - you receive some where you call them secret sharer notes from cis men who said they have also felt like this too, and they're repressing themselves too.

SANTE: Yeah. There's a range, you know? I mean, I know, you know, a couple of cis men who've said, oh, yeah, when I was younger I used to cross-dress all the time, and somebody said, you know, I've thought about doing what you're doing, but I can't, you know? So there's, you know, a range. And, of course, they might be expressing very different desires, or they may be couching the same desire in different clothing, you know, as it were, different guises. It's - I didn't want to push them, you know? Plus this was - I was getting these messages at a time when I was getting, you know, maybe even more reactions than I'm getting these days from the book, because I started hearing from all kinds of people from my past once the - well, it happened in three waves, you know? It's happened when I sent the letter out and then started sending it out to concentric rings of people, and then again when I published the first piece about my transition in Vanity Fair two years ago, and then now with this book. So this has awakened all kinds of submerged feelings in all kinds of people.

MOSLEY: You were born in Belgium and immigrated twice to the United States. You all came here and then went back to Belgium and then came back. And you grew up in New Jersey and New York. Your parents were working class. You were also your parent's miracle child because your mother had - she actually had given birth to a stillborn baby girl before you were born. You write about this in the book, but how do you think that impacted your relationship with her?

SANTE: Well, my stillborn sister was - it was a year, exactly a year and a month before I was born. And she was named Marie-Luce. And when I came along - and my mother was warned, you know, when I was born, not to try it again, so I was born an only child. And when I was born, they reversed her names and gave them to me from Marie-Luce to Luc-Marie (ph). And they actually bought a - or leased because this is Belgium. There's limited land. You don't just buy a - unless you're very rich, you don't buy a cemetery plot. You lease it. So they leased a cemetery plot for 10 years for this tiny body. And my mother never got over it. I - you know, I can hear her voice saying, la petite, the little girl, and mourning her but also conflating her with me. And my mother called me by female diminutives all through my childhood.

MOSLEY: She also dressed you in blue, which at the time was a girl's color in Belgium.

SANTE: That's right. My father's birth announcement was pink. And blue was for girls and - but for my mother, it also stood for the Virgin Mary, which may be part - a good part of the reason why blue was for girls over there. But she dressed me in blue, and apparently, you know, this raised eyebrows, but she defended it because of her devotion to the Virgin. And when I was in Belgium, maybe not for one of our immigrations, but my mother and I went back for both her parents' illnesses and death, so I was - I spent - my second and third grades of school were split evenly between American and Belgian schools. And at - on one of these trips, she bought me a bicycle. And we brought it back, and it was - get this - a unisex bicycle. It had the bar halfway up. And I got so much flak from the neighborhood boys that I had - I put the bicycle away and never rode it again. And to this day, I'm still kind of awkward on bicycles.

MOSLEY: What did you know about your parents? Meaning, like, I know it was of a certain time when, you know, parents didn't reveal, sometimes, their inner self. You and your mom had a very contentious relationship. There's this line that you say that stopped me in my tracks, where you say, I hated her. She hated me so much that it was almost love, or like love or something to that effect.

SANTE: Yes. My mother and I had a very, very difficult relationship that lasted right up to her death. She hit me every single day between the ages of 13 and 18. She probably hit me before that, too. But that's when - puberty is really what set off her enmity, which never lapsed, even though she stopped hitting me when I became an adult. My mother just never approved. Part of it was religion.

She was completely unimpressed by my career. You know, she wasn't a reader, for one thing. But when I - I think it was when I - either my first book was published or when I got my first prize. And I proudly announced this to my mother, and she didn't say great or congratulations or good for you. She said, remember that he doth corrupteth (ph) the morals of the young should have a millstone tied to his neck and be thrown off a bridge. That was her entire response.

She was one of those, you know, European pagan Catholics, didn't know a thing about theology. It was about medals and amulets and statues and scapulars and rituals. She wanted a child who she could mold to be like herself. And that included not - someone who wouldn't know any more than she did. If I used a French word that she'd never heard, she would deny that it was a word. And she kept doing this into my adulthood, mind you.

MOSLEY: Let's take a short break. If you're just joining us, we're talking with writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante about her new book, "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." We'll continue our conversation after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. And today we're talking to writer, critic and artist Lucy Sante. Her latest book is called "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." Sante announced her transition in 2021 at 67 years old. She's known for her incisive criticism and cultural commentary for The New York Review of Books and various other publications, including The New York Times, Harper's, The Village Voice, Artforum and Vogue. She's also written nine books.

You don't see yourself being like, a, spokesperson, but you know that you are just by virtue of you telling your story, that people are looking to you for that, especially during this moment where trans rights are at the top of the conversation.

SANTE: That's right. You know, I know a lot of trans writers, but I know some who write for a trans audience. They've given up trying to write for a general audience, which is not just a trans problem. It's today, you know, there being no big stage, and everybody's writing for their own share, their own little pool. And in my case, I, you know - I'm trying to take on the job of explaining this to cis people who are well meaning but do not understand, which is most cis people, frankly.

They just don't get it. They have no idea how - especially - I mean, to this day, you know, people who are very, very close to me and love me, they don't understand how I could have had these feelings for so long and kept them hidden. And it - well, it bruises some egos that, like, you mean you carried on this deception for 50 years, and we never knew? And that reflects back on them, right? Anyway, so - but they have no idea what the mechanism - how this feels.

You know, I had a very close friend write to me after reading my discussion of men and women, you know, where I say, like, you know, with women I feel at ease. I feel like I don't have to hold down an artillery position. With guys, I feel like I'm in a struggle I didn't sign up for, you know? And I had a very close friend write to me and say, I feel the exact same way as you do. But I've never wanted to be a woman, you know?

So I have to explain that to people and explain to the parents of, you know, children who've expressed their transness that, no, this is not a passing fancy. I mean, it's a moment of liberation. Across Generation Z, people are getting permission from their peers to come out. And so it's this great moment of release, which, of course, the right wing is trying to stomp on as hard as they can. But I - you know, I want to explain to the parents this is not a will-o'-the-wisp. It's not going to go away. And, you know, I am lucky to have survived my own repression. I think a lot of people in my position have not.

MOSLEY: You write about how - or you have written about how, at almost 70, a slight worry that people will think you're jumping on a trend. But is that really how you feel? - because, I mean, your friends tell you that they're seeing you smile with your whole face now. People have known you for 50 years and have never seen you smile.

SANTE: Yeah. No. That's true. I mean, I - well, I never opened my mouth in a grin. I never showed my teeth. And I used to think that - well, how did I even phrase it to myself? I think it made me look too vulnerable or something. Well, I - it made me look too feminine because that's - you know, I mean, I look distinctly better when I'm in a good mood, and I look most feminine when I'm smiling or grinning or laughing or whatever. I mean, the things seem - those two things seem to - happiness and female appearance seem to be intimately connected for me. It's really kind of inexplicable, but there you have it.

MOSLEY: I want to go back to one of the things you mentioned that you struggled with, and I'd like to know if you still struggle with it. Your attraction to women and fearing that women would not like you as a woman - do you still feel that way?

SANTE: I don't know. I mean, women have been - all the women in my life have been fantastic. And I - and, you know, women I've met since transitioning have been amazing. As far as being a romantic attraction, I think, you know, I'm - I may be too old to attract anyone. Let's put it that way. In any case, I do have to - the - you know, there is a flip side to all of this, which is that it's - you know, transitioning has shown me whole new landscapes of loneliness that I didn't even know existed before.

MOSLEY: Oh, wow. Now that's - yeah. Are you lonely?

SANTE: You know, I'm - it's - you know I'm lonely in that I'm - well, I'm a love junkie, always have been, and suffer from withdrawal when I don't have it. But also, I don't know very many trans women. You know, I have one - I mention in my book, my Virgil, my guide through this, who is currently 26 and in graduate school, so I don't see her very often. But I don't know many trans women, and - you know, and I live in this upstate town where it's - I've been living there for an embarrassing amount of time, considering how few people I know around there. You know, sometimes, when the mood is wrong, I can feel like I'm living on my own separate planet, far away from anyone else.

MOSLEY: And yet, it's been worth it.

SANTE: Yeah. And yet, at the same time, when the - whole series of paradoxes here. Yes, and one of them is the fact that while it's - you know, I'm extremely lonely much of the time, I'm also much happier than I've ever been. Explain that one, you know? But there it is.

MOSLEY: Lucy Sante, thank you so much for this book, and thank you for this conversation.

SANTE: You ask wonderful questions. Thank you so much.

MOSLEY: Lucy Sante's new book is titled "I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir Of Transition." Coming up, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the first three episodes of the new Apple TV+ series "Constellation." This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUY MINTUS TRIO AND GUY MINTUS' "OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER")

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