Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Becoming Nicole" by Amy Ellis Nutt

Transgender rights have been in the spotlight recently, with brave individuals stepping up to claim the everyday rights they need. Things many of us don't think about, like access to a bathroom that makes us comfortable and wearing clothes that make us feel confident, can be battleground issues for transgender individuals. "Becoming Nicole" has been published at an opportune moment, and is a much-needed introduction to transgender issues with a strong, compelling young woman at its center.

Nicole Maines was born Wyatt Maines, twin brother to Jonas and adopted child of Wayne and Kelly Maines. From a young age she preferred traditionally feminine toys and identified as a female. "Becoming Nicole" follows young Wyatt's transition to Nicole, and how her family struggled to understand and support her. The Maines family is remarkably open about the difficulties they faced, both as individuals understanding Nicole's identity, and as a family combating the misinformation and prejudice from others outside their family.

"Becoming Nicole" weaves scientific studies and historical background into Nicole's story, providing context that places her story among a larger societal struggle to understand transgender people and an ongoing fight for their basic rights. Nicole and her family are admirable, inspiring advocates, and this book is an important read for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be transgender and the challenges faced by this community.

Verdict: Affirmed. Anyone who is interested in transgender rights, or even civil rights broadly, should read this book. Bonus points because the audio narration is superb.

"Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family" written and narrated by Amy Ellis Nutt, published October 20, 2015 by Random House.

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