Trans Kids Transition: “Far From the Tree” and “Beautiful Music…”

Trans kids are featured in Andrew Solomon‘s Far from the Tree as well as a new YA novel, Kirstin Cronn-Mills‘s Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. (See my previous post about Far from the Tree.)

I. Transgender chapter, Far from the Tree

In a recent review in The Huffington Post, Lisa Belkin relates one of Andrew Solomon‘s “Transgender” stories from Far from the Tree. Because adult child Kim, who’d been raised as Paul, is coming home for her father’s funeral, her mom recognizes the need to explain things to some folks. “‘I’m not responsible for my child and who she’s become, but I am responsible to her,’ Kim’s mother says as she spreads the word, ‘and she is a wonderful person. I love her. I don’t know if you need to know anything else, but that’s all I need to know.'”

Below, Kim Reed talks about dealing with transgender issues:

I watched the above video clip and realized that Kim is the same person featured in the documentary Prodigal Sons (2008). It’s for a different purpose that she returns home to Montana in this film—her high school reunion.

II. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

The 18-year-old protagonist in a recently published Young Adult novel, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, is just waiting to finish high school so he can make his transition from Elizabeth to Gabe.

“Beautiful Music for Ugly Children” refers to the radio show Gabe deejays. Music is very important to him, and, as Kirkus Reviews states: “Being trans, Gabe opines, is like being a 45 record with an A side and a B side.”

The importance of a support network for trans kids, including of course one’s family, is emphasized in many of the reviews:

 LGBT@Your Library: “The path is not at all easy and the book tackles a lot of difficult facets–from being bullied to gaining the acceptance of friends and family. It’s clearly not an easy road for anyone involved and Ms. Cronn-Mills didn’t shy away from those aspects. Acceptance wasn’t sugar-coated or made to seem easy, and readers will appreciate that honesty.”

Infinite Reads: “All in all, an often-sweet, sympathetic look at a talented protagonist who only wants to live his life without getting persecuted for his identity. Practical issues of transitioning come up several times, and teens might come away with some great new (to them) tunes.”

Kirkus Reviews: “While Gabe’s coming-out process figures heavily into the story, it is, refreshingly, only one aspect of his experience. The show-stealer here is John, a unique, well-conceived, funny and loving figure whose enthusiasm for music and endless support for Gabe provides solidity and warmth amid the many changes Gabe experiences.”

Here’s the book trailer:

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