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Honest and Heartwarming

This book features 32 stories of mothers describing their struggle to accept and understand their transgender or gender variant child. It is a fantastic book that needed to be written and is a wonderful resource for families of transgender individuals. The editor and authors did an amazing job with this book.
Published:
Pros:
Honest, emotional, well written.
Cons:
None. It's just fabulous.
Rating by reviewer:
5
extremely useful review

About author



The authors of this book are all mothers of transgender and gender variant children who have written their own essays about their experiences as parents of these children. Each essay is written in a different style and voice, but all of them are incredibly personal and emotional. At the end of each story you feel like you know both the mother and the child being referenced in the story, which made me much more engaged in this book.

The book is edited by Rachel Pepper, who is a therapist that works with the transgender community and with the families of transgender individuals. She has a Masters in Counseling and a Masters in Journalism, and has worked on other books in the LGBT genre like "The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals" and "The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life". She discusses in the introduction how there has not been a book like this one out there for mothers to read.
    • Multiple contributoring authors
    • Very personal approach

Content / Style / Audience

This book is geared towards transgendered individuals and gender variant individuals, as well as their friends and family. I think anyone who wants a genuine look into what it is like to have a family member transition should read this book. Each story is written by the mother of a transgendered or gender variant child: some of these children are under the age of 18 and others transitioned as adults.

The stories speak of struggling to get pronouns and names correct, fears for how society will treat their child, having to deal with friends or family members who are not accepting, surgeries, and acceptance. There are a couple of stories where the parent is not in contact with their child, but wishes them well. There are others that describe having some rough years where they did not speak to their children very much or things were tense between child and parent. Most all of them feature the same theme of parents telling other parents that the most important part is to just love and accept their children. Almost every single story has some moment where the mother realizes that their child is much happier after the transition than they ever were before. There are stories that deal with male to female transition as well as female to male transition. Most all of the mothers state in their story that they did not know where to turn for support or resources, so I really like that the back of the book lists websites, medical organizations, and books that will assist people with helping someone who is transitioning or is gender variant. The book was quite easy to read and flowed very well. Even though some of these mothers are being published for the first time the book is well edited and put together. Each story is written from such an individual point of view that the stories are not repetitive.
    • Non-fiction
    • Queer

Design

This books is a standard size industry trade paperback. It has 203 pages and features 32 different stories from different parents. The book has a foreword written by the parent of a gender non-conforming child about her experience and how much she appreciates this book. This parent is the Executive Director/Co-founder of the TransYouth Family Allies agency and is very passionate about more information being put out there for the parents of gender variant youth. Following this is the introduction by the editor, which details why she felt this book was so important to put together. The stories go behind that. Last is a glossary section to explain terms that family members may be unfamiliar with and a list of resources of families. It flows well and the layout makes sense. The cover design is well done and shows two hands forming a heart. It is simple, but communicates the overall message of love and acceptance. The binding is good for a paperback and seems like it will hold up to repeated readings.
    • Small size
    • Soft cover
    • Well made

Personal comments

A couple of stories sparked a negative response from me though. The story "I Wish Her Happiness Most of All" by Dana Lane really struck a nerve with me. In the story the mother talks about her child as female and by the child's birth name. The mother talks about the struggle to come to terms with it, but mostly focuses on how she wants her daughter to just change her mind and not transition to male. The mother describes not being able to come to peace with the idea. This story hits a little to close to home with how my former partner's mother responded to his transition and how she kept referring to him as female even after he transitioned and just focused on how hard it was for her to see him as her son now. I understand that it is a big challenge for a parent, but I have witnessed how traumatic it can be for the person transitioning when their family is not supportive.

Reading this book at times was a challenge because of that. I am very open minded and have always been supportive of friends and significant others who have transitioned and I have struggled to understand families who could not get pronouns correct or call the person by their legally changed name. This book has really helped me see things from a different perspective and better understand the struggle that family members, particularly mothers, go through with a gender variant or transgender children.

Most of the stories like "A Blessing in Disguise" By Judy Sennesh detail a mother's acceptance of her child's decision to transition to male. The mother describes being so proud of her son and how she sees being transgender as a birth defect and how her child had surgery to correct it. She describes not feeling that she had to mourn the loss of a child because she still had the same child just with a different name and gender. Many of the stories are along this line and describe a parent who just wants their child to be happy and feel comfortable in their own body.

Experience

As someone who has friends and significant others who are transgender and gender variant, I felt compelled to read this book and see what I thought of it. I know from the experiences of these individuals that I care about that there are a variety of reactions that families can have to someone deciding to transition or be gender variant, and those can range from wonderful to really terrible. I have seen people struggle to give their family time to get used to appropriate pronouns or legal name change. I have seen people whose families did not accept them or did not accept their new name or gender. I have seen families that have fought with their children about having surgery or asking them why they could not just be happy the way they are, or the way they were before the surgery. I have also seen parents who say that it makes sense or that they just want their child to be happy. There really are not that many books out there for families to read to understand how they can better support their child in this process. I feel like this book is an amazing resource and something that so badly needed to be written. I will be recommending it to some of my friends to read to see if it will help their families with the transition process.
Follow-up commentary
This book is still a great resource for those who identify as transgender or transsexual, their family, friends, and allies. This book is a broken up into short stories written by mothers of trans individuals. I found the book to be very heartfelt and touching as well as a great conversation starter.
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Comments
  • LaSchwartz
    LaSchwartz  
    thanks for the review .
  • chantalgiardina
    chantalgiardina  
    great review thanks for sharing
  • freud13
    freud13  
    Thanks for reading
  • freshbananas
    freshbananas  
    This looks really good, thanks for reviewing. I might have to pick this one up
  • GONE!
    GONE!  
    Awesome review!
  • Beneath The Bed
    Beneath The Bed  
    Thanks for the great review!
  • maddameheather
    maddameheather  
    ty great review
  • freud13
    freud13  
    Thanks for reading everyone
  • RedKyuubi
    RedKyuubi  
    Sounds interesting. Thanks for the review
  • Zandrock
    Zandrock  
    great review
  • Geogeo
    Geogeo  
    interesting, thanks for reviewing
  • butts
    butts  
    Thank you for the review Sounds like a good book for my mother.
  • Mediumsizedman
    Mediumsizedman  
    Great review, thanks for sharing.
  • jjasc90
    jjasc90  
    This looks like it could be a great resource. Thank you!
  • freud13
    freud13  
    @jjasc90 it is a great resource.

    @butts it makes a great holiday present.
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