Is that just a slip by the NYT or did I miss a memo?
Here's the underlying article, in the "Fashion & Style" section — is it fashion/style?! — "My Father, the Shapeshifter/In a book about her enigmatic father, Susan Faludi explores the very meaning of gender and identity."
"Decided" is Faludi's word:
“In the summer of 2004, I received an email from my father with the subject line ‘Changes,’” she began, her soft voice occasionally drowned out by cars racing up the canyon. “My father lived in Hungary, and it was the first communication I’d received from him in many years. He said he had some interesting news for me. He had decided, at the age of 76, that he’d had enough of, quote, impersonating a macho, aggressive man. There was a series of snapshots attached to the message. The first one showed my father standing in a hospital lobby in a sleeveless blouse and red skirt. Beside him were, as he wrote in the note, ‘the other post-op girls’ — two patients who were also making ‘the change.’”Also:
“He was always trying on different personae,” Ms. Faludi recalled. “Most of them at the time were frenetic sportsman identities — rock climber, ice climber, extreme cyclist.”
Walled-off and despotic, Mr. Faludi could also be abusive. Ms. Faludi’s parents separated when she was 16; one night the next year, her father violated a restraining order and returned to their home to attack the boyfriend of Ms. Faludi’s mother with a baseball bat and a knife. For the next two and a half decades, Ms. Faludi had little contact with him....
The elusiveness of identity is Ms. Faludi’s idée fixe. She is suspicious of efforts by her father or anyone else to reduce gender — not to mention sexual, racial or national identity — to an either/or proposition. “All the years she was alive,” she writes of her father, “she’d sought to settle the question of who she was. Jew or Christian? Hungarian or American? Woman or man? So many oppositions.”