Transgender Kids and Teens: Several Pertinent Books

Below are five notable books published in the last two years from the following types of authors: transgender kids and teens, the parents of a trans child, and a journalist who spent several years with a family affected by a child’s gender transition. Special bonus: a pertinent book not yet available but highly anticipated.

II Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings (2014)

Previously I posted about this activist author, Jazz Jennings, now 14 years old, and her reality show on TLC. Actress Laverne Cox: “I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty.”

II. My Daughter He: Transitioning With Our Transgender Children by Candace Waldron (2014)   

The trans son of Candace Waldron, MDiv, started to deal openly with his identity in his teens. Waldron’s book is about her own process of learning “to let go of her beloved daughter so she could welcome her son.” In addition, she provides solid info to other parents in similar circumstances.

Therapist Rachel Pepper, co-author of The Transgender Child (2008): “By sharing her own transition journey and that of her trans son, including issues around safety, schools, and mental health, Waldron has created an informative and comforting resource for other families.”

III. Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews (2014)   

Arin Andrews had gender reassignment when he was a high school junior: “Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.”

Kirkus Reviews: “Andrews received national recognition when he was profiled on television’s Inside Edition as one half of a transgender teen couple (the other half, Katie Rain Hill, has written her own memoir, Rethinking Normal)…Andrews’ tone when writing about the relationship is largely reverent, and background information about societal gender expectations and physical transition processes fit in easily among typical teenage concerns like love, heartbreak and prom.”

IV. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt (October 20, 2015)

Wyatt is one of the identical twins adopted by Wayne and Kelly Maines. “By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.” An Amazon “Best Book of October.”

Jennifer Finney Boylan, co-chair of GLAAD and author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two GendersBecoming Nicole is a miracle. It’s the story of a family struggling with—and embracing—a transgender child. But more than that, it’s about accepting one another, and ourselves, in all our messy, contradictory glory. The Maines family is as American as they come. In the journey they take toward authenticity and justice, we see a model for the future of our country, a future in which all of us—mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters—somehow find the courage, and the love, to become our best selves.”

V. Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child with No Strings Attached by Hillary Whittington (February, 2016)

Many have already seen the viral YouTube video of Ryland, age 5, and his parents—but if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. This book expands on their story:

After they discovered their daughter Ryland was deaf at age one and needed cochlear implants, the Whittingtons spent nearly four years successfully teaching Ryland to speak. But once Ryland gained the power of speech, it was time for them to listen as Ryland insisted, ‘I am a boy!’ And listen they did…

From the earliest stages of deciphering Ryland through clothing choices to examining the difficult conversations that have marked every stage of Ryland’s transition, Hillary Whittington shares her experiences as a mother through it all, demonstrating both the resistance and support that their family has encountered as they try to erase the stigma surrounding the word ‘transgender.’ In telling her family’s story, she hopes she can assist the world in accepting that even children as young as five, can have profound and impactful things to say and share. What emerges is a powerful story of unconditional love, accepting others for who they are, and doing what’s right, regardless of whether those around you understand it.

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