I went on the search for an informative book about transgender issues after an argument with my husband. We’re both pretty liberal, but I’m more idealistic and he’s more into political games. After a political discussion with his brother, my husband decided they’d figured out transgender politics. I disagreed with his assessment, but our argument really highlighted how ignorant both of us were on the subject [although–for the record–he was more ignorant than me 🙂 ]
I decided I needed a book, and so my google searches commenced. Somehow I found, Becoming Nicole (2015) by Amy Ellis Nutt. Nutt is a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist, so I figured this would be a well-researched, interesting story.
Nutt follows the family of Kelly and Wayne Maines and their two adopted twin boys: Wyatt and Jonas. The children were adopted from a cousin in the family, but Wyatt was different from as early as two years old. Wyatt would drape towels over his head like long hair, and was displeased with his anatomy.
Kelly and Wayne didn’t know what to make of it. They were a very “normal” family living in a small, conservative town. They just wanted their kids to be happy. Eventually, Kelly did some research and discovered that Wyatt might be transgender. The family faced an incredible uphill battle because Wyatt being transgender and becoming Nicole was hard on everyone. Even with a very accepting family and strong personality, Nicole dealt with gender dysphoria and other mental health struggles stemming from being born into the wrong gender’s body and hiding who she was. There were also kids and adults bullying Nicole and making her transition more difficult.
In addition, Nicole’s twin brother received a lot less attention, but also felt a strong need to protect his sister. Finally, Nicole’s father, Wayne, had a hard time wrapping his head around the whole thing. He let Kelly deal with almost everything and for awhile absented himself from the family whenever he could. They were obviously both loving parents doing the best they could, and Nutt showing their struggles really made them feel like the average, relatable American family.
I thought this book was very good. Besides going into depth for many years of the family’s life, she also included some more general information about transgender issues. I learned some things, and I was able to really feel what a struggle Nicole and her family faced. One important thing to remember, though, is that Nicole had a supportive family with some means. She had access to drugs that halted her puberty before the telltale signs of masculinity hit her, making her psychological struggles and transitioning significantly easier. As many challenges as Nicole faced, in some ways she was very lucky.
#cbrbingo: “Queer Lives”