- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812995414
- ISBN-13: 978-0812995411
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 507 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family 1st Edition
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2015: “Why IS it such a big deal to everyone what somebody has in their pants?” Excellent question, posed by an unusually astute transgender girl, the subject of Amy Ellis Nutt’s emotional and illuminating Becoming Nicole. It’s also a little ironic, since Nicole’s story makes a bit of a deal of it, but in a much different way than other stories we’ve been hearing lately, from celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and television shows like Transparent. Nicole, her twin brother Jonas, mom Kelly, and dad Wayne, are your typical middle class American family. They live next door to you--are shuttling from work, to Cub Scouts, to softball practice…. They’re also coming to terms with the fact that one of their own has Gender Dysphoria, a medical condition whereby a person does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. And so Wayne and Kelly Maines discover that they don’t have two sons at all, but a son and a daughter. This is a particularly hard pill for Republican, Air Force veteran, Wayne, to swallow, and his journey from denial to accepting and championing his daughter, is one of the more powerful and moving side narratives in a book chock full of them. That is why I really struggled to write this review, because Becoming Nicole is an important book that imparts important lessons, and the ones that resonate most have nothing to do with what’s in anyone’s pants: Be true to yourself, live an authentic life, exercise compassion. –Erin Kodicek
“A profoundly moving true story about one remarkable family’s evolution.”—People
“Fascinating and enlightening.”—Cheryl Strayed
“[Becoming Nicole] generously traces the parameters of parental love . . . delving deep into the case of a single family with a transgender child and discovering in its particulars certain universal truths about the ways children arrive in one’s life already themselves.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“[An] exceptional chronicle . . . ‘Stories move the walls that need to be moved,’ Nicole told her father last year. In telling Nicole’s story and those of her brother and parents luminously, and with great compassion and intelligence, that is exactly what Amy Ellis Nutt has done here.”—Sue Halpern, The Washington Post
“Reading strictly for plot, Becoming Nicole is about a transgender girl who triumphed in a landmark discrimination case. . . . But the real movement in this book happens internally, in the back caverns of each family member’s heart and mind. Four ordinary and imperfect human beings had to reckon with an exceptional situation, and in so doing also became, in their own modest ways, exceptional. . . . If you aren’t moved by Becoming Nicole, I’d suggest there’s a lump of dark matter where your heart should be.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
“A transgender girl’s coming-of-age saga, an exploration of the budding science of gender identity, a civil rights time capsule, a tear-jerking legal drama and, perhaps most of all, an education about what can happen when a child doesn’t turn out as his or her parents expected—and they’re forced to either shut their eyes and hearts or see everything differently.”—Time
“Extraordinary . . . a wonderful and inspiring story.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A downright necessary book—and a remarkable act of generosity by the Maines family—that will surely start hundreds of conversations in living rooms across the country about what ‘transgender’ means. But it’s also a deeply universal book, one that hits the heart of what it means for all of us, no matter how we struggle (or not) to identify, to be ourselves.”—BuzzFeed
“Gorgeous . . . a really wonderful story.”—NBC New York
“Becoming 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.”—Jennifer Finney Boylan, co-chair of GLAAD and author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders
“Gripping . . . a timely, significant examination.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This poignant account of a transgender girl’s transition offers a heartfelt snapshot of a family whose only objective is to protect their daughter. Tackling the subject from a biological, social, and psychological viewpoint, Pulitzer-winning reporter Nutt . . . succeeds in placing Nicole’s individual story within the more general narrative of transgender rights in the United States and humanizes the issues currently at play.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Shows how one] family took precious steps in order to understand, support, and celebrate differences that make us all unique. If you want to get a look into a family that has made great strides to change the way some people think about the American nuclear family, and accept the beauty of the world around us, definitely buy this book.”—Philadelphia
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Two things in this book really struck me. First, I think it’s easy to view those who actively defend LGBTQ rights as crusaders and zealots. The truth is that they are a patchwork of people who – by and large – have been forced to examine their own viewpoints and carefully consider the status quo when it comes to opportunities for and treatment of the LGBT community. Many have not done this simply because it interested them, but because they were faced with the reality of being or loving someone who does not conform to the rigid gender norms that have been laid out for us culturally. Though I have long identified as someone on the left of the political spectrum, I struggled mightily when my child began identifying as the opposite gender, and it has been a continual learning process. And while Nicole’s father Wayne and I began on opposing ends of the political spectrum, I identified with him in so many ways throughout this book, and his journey felt very familiar to me. I am immensely thankful to books like this and the plethora of organizations and media attention this issue has garnered over the past 5-10 years, as they are truly invaluable to families like ours trying to better understand our children and learn how to stand up for them at school and in society.
Second, I am continually amazed by children and their unquestioning acceptance of people who differ than them, but at the same time saddened and frustrated by some groups’ stubborn insistence on labeling transgender individuals as sexual deviants. This abominable behavior was on full display throughout the second half of this book and I find it infuriating. As a reminder, these are children we are talking about – many as young as 3, 5, 7, 10 years old. They are not predators. They are not a danger to others. They are children and they deserve to be loved and cherished. Please stand up against the perversion of religion to preach hate about children – the day that is achieved cannot come fast enough.
I am very lucky to have a partner in my life similar to Nicole’s mom Kelly, who has strongly supported my child every step of the way, and was a rock before I could be. They once said to me “Just think: this experience will make us stronger, will make us better.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The writing is very accessible. It's obviously very sympathetic to the family members, but also doesn't shy away too much from displaying their own faults. The story begins with the upbringing of the parents, and follows through the growth of their family until the twins finally head off to college. It's very encompassing in very many ways. It follows the family closely, but then has whole chapters that detail political, social, and medical events that affect transgender individuals. For example, while it may seem puzzling how one of two identical twins can be transgender, enough information is given that the reader understands how gender is formed in the fetus/infant, and how it becomes not a question of genetics, but of epigenetics (which is likewise explained). By the end, you come away with a working knowledge of how gender develops in individuals, the different types of genders, how genetics and epigenetics play a role, social and political changes that affected how transgender individuals are viewed, and an intimate look at not only a transgender child and how she felt growing up, but how it affected the family.
Our knowledge of gender and sexuality has come a long way in the last fifty years. Since more and more people are aware of the differences in gender, it's become a very important social issue. I heartily recommend this book to everyone so they can further understand this topic and not only understand it better, but see how it directly affects not only the transgender person, but the people around him/her.
I felt the author was a bit of a cheerleader in her support of the family, which is ok, but somewhat more than I expected for a journalist.