Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews
VOYA Reviews 2014 October
The pictures that open the early chapters show a friendly, pretty girl smiling open-heartedly at the camera. But in easy, conversational style, Andrews recounts his persistent childhood discomfort with girlish pink accessories and his preference for being a tomboy. While his mother pins bows in his hair and enters him in child beauty pageants, Andrews winces at the “painted harlequin” he sees in the mirror. At thirteen, friendship with a fellow dance student who identifies first as bisexual, then as lesbian, leads to neighborhood gossip, and his mother’s fury. His Christian school expels Andrews after he questions its unbending condemnations of homosexuality. He considers suicide. Andrews realistically traces his mother’s journey from fury to reluctant acceptance to full support, finally achieved when a family therapist describes the Native American tradition of “two-spirit” people, incredibly wise healers Transgender “assembly” for Andrews has so far included testosterone treatment and “top surgery.” The book provides practical information on gender transitioning, directing readers to web sources for more details. Emotional “assembly” is rockier. An intense romance with Katie Hill, a fellow Oklahoman transgender teen, attracts international media attention. Two years later, Katie goes off to college and devastates Andrews by cheating on him. Haunted by the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry, Andrews promises himself to do everything he can to help transgender teens and to educate others. Teens will feel for him, root for him, and learn a lot about the costs and complexities of gender transition.—Katherine Noone Photos. Biblio. Further Reading. 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.
Rethinking Normal: a Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill
In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment. Have you ever worried that you’d never be able to live up to your parents’ expectations? Have you ever imagined that life would be better if you were just invisible? Have you ever thought you would do anything– anything –to make the teasing stop? Katie Hill had and it nearly tore her apart. Katie never felt comfortable in her own skin. She realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers’ bullying and the mounting pressure to be “normal,” Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that “Katie”–the girl trapped within her–was determined to live. In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world and experience heartbreak for the first time in a body that matched her gender identity. Told in an unwaveringly honest voice, Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of “normalcy” to embody one’s true self.