Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

Review:

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family - Amy Ellis Nutt I’ve had this book on my To Read list for a while but finally prioritized it for the Litsy A to Z Challenge. I had first seen it when looking for books on the trans experience that talked about more than the act of transitioning from one end of the gender spectrum to a place further into the other end.

The story itself is beautiful. Sure, there are struggles and lots of things that it’s terrible they had to deal with just for their daughter to be able to be herself, but there is a lot of hope here. Nicole still has her whole life ahead of her. While the family probably has more troubles like these ahead, they have experience and persistence. Nicole will never have to be on this journey on her own and that’s not something that all trans kids get.

I am not trans, so I don’t want to get too far into the weeds on the particulars of Nicole’s story. As far as the writing goes, though, I greatly appreciated the execution of her story. It doesn’t sensationalize any particular aspect and it does a great job of explaining where the parents are coming from and why they dealt with their daughter’s gender differently. It also explains quite a bit of the science and biology so that the reader can begin to put understand that aspect which helps inform us of the impact of these things on a trans person such as Nicole. The book never felt like it was judging any particular family member.

For a review that includes commentary on the way the book handles gender issues and transitioning, here are two reviews from trans bloggers:

I borrowed the audiobook from the library, which was read by the author. Personally, I liked her narration as well, though I did find others who found it flat while looking for reviews by trans people. Overall, I think the issue with the book is whether or not it adequately captures a piece (because no single experience of anything could capture all of it, so this is not diferent) of the experience of what it is like to be a trans child or their family member. The book doesn’t focus on the other family members, but it gives them enough attention that I feel like it does offer them as role models for dealing with trans children in the family. This shouldn’t be an issue, but I think we all know that it is and that family and other children can be cruel, but we don’t have to be and this book and the Maineses offer another option as to how to respond. When looking at that core issue, though, I think it speaks volumes for this book that it was recognized by the trans community and is a 2016 Stonewall Honor Book for Non-Fiction.

If you are curious about this issue in general or researching how to interact with or treat a trans family member, this book is a great one to include. As I’m not sure whether or not to refer the book to trans people who it may or may not trigger at times, I will again refer to the two reviews above and defer to their judgement. I apologize for not having a better answer than that but I would not want to presume anything.

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