Are you a parent trying to teach your kid about trans identity? Are you an adult trying to navigate concepts of trans identity that weren’t around when you were a kid? This is a really, really good place to get what I think of as a gut understanding of what it means to live as a trans person, which may be personally relevant, and/or give you a sense of what allyship might look like for these particular friends of the rainbow.
Plot: Melissa has to pretend to be a boy all the time because everyone is convinced that’s what she is. This is particularly alarming because in the next couple of years, puberty is going to start, and then people are REALLY going to have opinions on this. Then the school announces that the play this year will be Charlotte’s Web, Melissa’s favourite book and favourite character. When in a moment of weakness she reveals her truth to her best friend, it turns out that maybe there’s a way to show people who she really is, her way. Shenanigans ensue.
This is a kids book, but this review is very much for adults considering reading this for themselves. For most of us, trans identity was just not something we even knew existed as kids, so there is a lot of work we need to do as adults to catch up. For me, this book was about understanding in my gut what it feels like to live with this secret. I have read enormous amounts of data and intersectional gender theory and some biology too and these have all been incredibly helpful. I really don’t understand people who aren’t convinced by facts. Facts are awesome. But what Melissa does is help you put that knowledge to work in a really practical way. It helps you contextualize statistics and help you better formulate strategies for allyship by putting you in Melissa’s shoes as she comes out to different people, the different ways in which they react, and the impact it has on her.
Also, you can hoover this guy up in a couple of hours. Return on investment here is like if you bought bitcoin in 2007. Note that if you’re looking for a copy, some libraries still have it under the old name – “George” (which was subsequently removed since it’s weird to have a really affirming book about the experience of a trans girl deadnaming her in the title).