Transitions of the heart - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by ViVix

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Change of Heart or Mind?

If one day your child came to you and told you that he/she felt that they had never belonged in their own body, would you go on the journey with him/her to match the inside to the physical outside? The authors of this book are parents of transgender and gender variant kids that publish all emotions and problems while watching their children go through their changes. Some can't seem to find peace, others pave the way for their children, but every story has a truly "parent: flaws and all" feel.
+All Kinds of Parents
+Shows the Journey Even in Short Story Form
-Some Parents' Hearts Do Not Transition to Support Unconditional Love
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review

About author

There are multiple authors in this book that each tell of their experience with a child (or children's) transition or gender play. Basically, the authors are parents of gender variant or transgender children who are not professional writers though many seem to come from educational or medical backgrounds. Almost all of these authors struggle to see the difference between sexual orientation and sex in terms of gender. The authors will be relatable parental figures for the millennial generation whereas some of the older readers will relate to how these authors are addressing the transitions that are before them. I personally found some authors to be aggravating and closed minded, and I don't believe that all of these individuals truly learned to love their children unconditionally. Many struggled between the concept of feeling a connection with the child that used to be and finding a connection with the person their child became (the one that existed on the inside all along). I had not read any stories from these parents prior to this book though it turns out some had their lives publicized for these transitions before the editor, Rachel Pepper, organized this series of short stories. Overall, all of the authors have the human element, and they are all deeply connected to what they write. It brings an interesting perspective to the book to have the parents tell the stories rather than the transgender or gender variant person.
    • Multiple contributoring authors
    • Very personal approach

Content / Style / Audience

Transitions of the Heart is a 203 page book about coping and adapting with transgender and gender variant children. This book actually covers some of the stigma around gay and lesbian individuals as well, which will help it to appeal to a larger audience. The five stages of grief can definitely be found in this book, though there are a few parents who barely seem to skip a beat when their children decide to transition. I know that these stories were put together to convey the message of acceptance, though I find a few miss that mark. Parents navigate the stigma from family and friends, the scary world of school bullying, and a lack of information or specialists. However, don't let this book make you forget who the real focus should be on! The one issue that I have with this book is that some parents seem to think that their child's transition is all about them!

On a separate note, I do think that this book will appeal to a variety of age and economical groups. There are 5 year old children in this book who do not relate to their born physical gender. There are also individuals who do not transition until they are in their 40s or later. There are young parents, and there are old parents. Some are wealthy, and some are poor. Some of these parents are married, and some are single parents. I think that the variation is meant to show that people are born the way they are (transgender, gender variant, gay, etc.) and don't necessarily choose to be that way later on in life due to their upbringing or some issue. The only reason why some of these individuals wait so long to transition is due to society's unwillingness to accept them.

This book is non-fiction. It is also not erotica in any way, shape, or form. There are no racy sex scenes or described kinks about transgender or gender variant people. I would describe this book as educational. For instance, I work in a library, and one of the teachers at my building felt that this would make a good book report/assignment for psychology students.
    • Instructional / educational
    • Non-fiction


Transitions of the Heart (as offered on EF) is a paperback book. I don't see any issues with the binding and rather enjoy the actual layout. On the front, two hands come together to form a heart, and this is kind of simple...a little cliche. However, that does make it discreet enough and appropriate to read in public if you are the shy type. The first page (front and back) is a collection of positive reviews of the book. There is a foreword and an introduction. Generally, I skip right over these two sections, but I genuinely enjoyed the foreword. At the end, there is a glossary, which is extremely useful if you don't know what a bilateral mastectomy or sex reassignment consists of. This is followed by a resource guide, which gives information for transitioning individuals and their families. Given that the book speaks quite a bit on the fact that it is difficult to find information about transitioning, I find this highly valuable. The final section gives some information about the editor. It all seems in very logical sequence.
    • Discreet cover

Personal comments

Here is the general sequence for these stories...
Parent notices child doesn't like "gender appropriate" items, but believes it is a phase.
Child continues to protest these same items, and parent forces them on the child.
Child becomes depressed or suicidal.
Parent finally gives in and begins the journey to acceptance.

Though this is not true of every story, I've found that this conveys the good majority of them. Many of the parents feel that their child has died when that child transitions, but as one child explains it...they are still exactly the same on the inside. I found myself angry at some of the mothers who seemed to set up a form of conditional love for their child as long as he/she didn't talk about transitioning or argue about anything. My own grandmother often says of my cousin (who is a lesbian) "I love her, but I don't love her lifestyle." I got this vibe from some of these stories, and that's not REAL love! That's not acceptance, and often it isn't the heart that hasn't transitioned for the's the mind!
Follow-up commentary
This is a book for any parent struggling with the acceptance of their child on any level or for any reason. While I originally only realized the surface storyline of this book, I have since come to appreciate that it has an underlying message of how parents struggle when children decide to lead their own lives. It applies to parents who raise their child with the hope of him/her going to college...only to have that child become pregnant as a teenager, to a parent who has a child who does not want to take over the family business, and so on and so forth. The point is that while I judged some of these parents for not instantly accepting their children for who they are, if my child decided to join the circus tomorrow, I would struggle to deal with it as well, and I wouldn't have the guts to publish a story about that struggle.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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  • GONE!
    Thanks for the detailed review!
  • bowzer311
    Thanks for the review!
  • surreptitious
    Thank you for the in-depth feedback!
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