Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey Book Review

Coming out is not as simple as stating your truth. For many, it takes years, if not decades to gather the courage to reveal who they really are. Built-in, (which goes without saying) is the fear of rejection from family and friends.

Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey, by Jo Ivester, was published in 2020. It is the story of her transgender son, Jeremy, and his journey to becoming his true self. Given the name Emily at birth, he never felt right in his body as a child. As soon as he hit puberty and junior high/high school, the issues became magnified due to the natural difficulties of the age.

As he grew into an adult, he slowly began to accept who he was and go through physical changes (medical procedures included) to match his outsides to his insides. The narrative is told from multiple perspectives: Jeremy, Jo, his father, and his siblings. It is more than the fight for his identity, it is his right to be respected as he is by society and the law.

This book is fantastic and different from other memoirs about this subject. What makes it unusual is the multiple perspectives. It gives the reader a 180 view of what it is like to come out as a transgender person and the multiple ripples this revelation creates.

I also very much appreciate the political action Jo took. She became an advocate not just for her son, but for the millions of LGBTQ Americans who are being discriminated against simply because of who they are.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey is available wherever books are sold.

A Lady for a Duke Book Review

I hope and believe that anyone’s greatest wish is to love and be loved in return, regardless of who they are.

Alexis Hall‘s new regency romance novel, A Lady for a Duke, was published last month. Up until Waterloo, Viola Caroll hid her true self. When it appeared that she did not survive, she took the opportunity to become the woman she knew she was inside. But there was a price to pay for being herself.

Among her losses is her best friend Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. When they reunite years later, Gracewood is a shadow of his former self. Relying on alcohol and other substances to dull the pain, he has become a recluse who is living in the past.

Doing everything she can to bring back the man she knew, new feelings of both the physical and emotional kind bubble to the surface. Viola wants to tell Justin the truth, but doing so may cost her everything she has fought for.

I love that the cover is giving me Beauty and the Beast vibes. I also love that the heroine is transgender. It was a lovely change to a genre and a narrative that many of us know all too well. The problem is that the spark between the main characters is missing. While the author does a great job of keeping us in Viola and Justin’s heads, the all-important “will they or won’t they?” question is missing. I badly wanted to root for them. But the chemistry that should have pulled me in was simply not there.

Do I recommend it? A highly disappointed no.

More Republican Fuckery: FL’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law, TX’s Anti-Transgender, Cowardly Kevin McCarthy, and MI’s Banning Contraception For Married Couples

It says something about a nation when one political party is focused on the future and bringing people together while the other one is focused on the past and pulling people apart.

In both Texas and Florida, laws against the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ kids have created a dangerous precedent that puts lives at risk. As of Monday, the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida is one step closer to becoming law. The details of the bill are as follows:

Should the bill become law, Florida educators would be barred from speaking to primary school students about certain LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Under the bill, parents would also have greater authority to take legal action against school districts they believe to be in violation.

In Texas, parents of transgender children who seek out hormone therapy to help their offspring become their true selves could be characterized as child abusers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to foresee the potential mental health issues that may have a hugely detrimental effect on an entire generation. If we lose young lives due to these laws, the blood will be on the hands of those who wrote and supported these pieces of legislation.

Several weeks ago, Kevin McCarthy was asked by a member of the press about January 6th. Instead of answering her question, he ran away.

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Contrast this to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. When asked by the US if he wanted to get out of the line of fire, he said no and asked for ammunition. We should all be so lucky to have a President like him.

Finally, in Michigan, the three Republican candidates for State Attorney General were asked about the 1965 Supreme Court decision Griswold vs. Connecticut. The ruling states that married couples can buy contraception without the government stepping in. All three of them (who are all men, if it was not already obvious) state that they believed it was up to the state and not the federal government.

Who are they to make these decisions? When Roe V. Wade was ratified as the law of the land in 1972, it came down to privacy. That same concept applies to married couples. The choice to end a pregnancy and/or use contraception is one that belongs to those who are involved in that process and no one else.

Just another day of Republican fuckery.

P.S. I hope I was not the only was one who was offended and horrified by the outburst by Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene during last night’s State of the Union. It was akin to drunken idiots insulting the opposing team during a baseball or football game. What is worse is that they chose to do this when President Biden was speaking about his son who he lost to cancer. How much more disrespectful can they get?

Throwback Thursday-Harry Potter Film Series (2001-2011)

There is something about the magic of a favorite childhood book. No matter how old one gets or how complicated adulting becomes, these books will always stay with us.

The Harry Potter film series (2001-2011) is one of the few book to movie transitions that is both true to the source material and has the ability to stay with the audience.

The films follow the title character, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), an orphaned boy who discovers that he is a wizard. Over the course of ten years and eight films, Harry and his friends, Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), grow up, fall in love and fight against the dark forces of their world.

If there is one thing that stands out to me, it is that the narrative and characters feel human and normal against an extraordinary backdrop. Harry is an everyman type of character, giving readers and viewers an emotional hook to grab onto and stay with until the very end.

Do I recommend them? Yes.

P.S. I would love to just talk about the films, but I must address J.K. Rowling‘s morally disgusting remarks about Trans men and women. They are a stain on the legacy of the books/movies that inspired a generation of readers.

Anne Frank, George Floyd and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells: Killed by Hate

I think it is pretty safe to say that in the nearly three weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, the world has changed. Across the globe, millions are making their voices heard. George Floyd was one man, but he has come to stand for those who have been killed by hate.

Yesterday would have been Anne Frank‘s 91st birthday. Her diary has been ready by millions of readers over the last 70ish years. Like George Floyd, she has become a symbol of a life cute short by hate.

Among the issues that have been brought to the forefront is that Americans of color who also identify as transgender are being killed at an alarming rate. On June 9th, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells was murdered in Philadelphia. If this was not enough to make one’s blood boil, you know who has decided to roll back health protections for transgender Americans. Considering that it both Pride month and yesterday was also the 4th anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, this rollback feels particularly painful.

I keep thinking that if the world had collectively protested in the 1930’s as they do now, would the Holocaust have happened? How many might have survived? Unfortunately, this question can never be answered.

I wish that we lived in a world in which our rights were immediately given to us at birth. I wish that we were not categorized and then based on that category, denied or approved for where we may end up in life. But that is the world we live in. But until that day in which that happens, we must continue to stand up and fight for those rights.

Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman Book Review

No matter how old we are, we still want our parent’s love and affection. But what happens we have to make a choice between our parent’s love and our authentic selves?

The new book, Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman, is a memoir written by Abby Chava Stein. Abby was born a boy, the eldest son of a large Hasidic Jewish family in New York City. A direct descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the expectations on her shoulders as a child were clear. She would follow in the personal and professional path of those who came before her.

But something inside of her said that she was different. In her 20’s, after marrying and having a child, Abby knew that it was time to be herself. Even if that meant being estranged from the family and the community that she grew up in.

I loved this book because the author lays it all on the page. It is an honest, heartfelt, sometimes painful memoir of a time in her life when she was living as two different people. Though Ms. Stein comes from a specific community with a specific faith, her story is universal. There are many of us in this world who live two lives. We know at some point, we must come out of the closet, in whatever form that takes.

If she can do it, so can the rest of us.

I recommend it.

The Rights of Transgender Americans Are About to be Taken Away

The reality of gender and sexuality is that neither can easily fit into a box. But some people still believe that gender and sexuality are binary and limited to two boxes: male and female. Anyone who does not fall into these specific boxes is therefore an other.

The administration of the current resident in The White House is considering a proposal to define sex and sexuality. Any protections and rights that those who identify as transgender could be potentially stripped away.

I am not only bothered as an American, but on a personal level. As an American, I am bothered that the inalienable rights of my fellow citizens are being denied because they don’t fit into someone else’s too neat box. I am bothered on a personal level because I have a relation who is near and dear to me who identifies as transgender. To know that this person would be denied their rights because of who they are not only breaks my heart, but makes me angry.

The midterm elections are coming in two weeks. As citizens, we have a responsibility to vote to ensure that all citizens, regardless of labels are not denied their rights. No one should be denied their unalienable rights because they don’t fit into the neat little boxes of others.

Waste

Warning: This post reveals spoilers of this week’s episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. If you have not seen the episode, I will not be offended if you do not read any further.

The premise of the episode is as follows: A transgender teen Avery Parker (Christopher Dylan) is taunted and attacked by a group of African-American teenagers.  After sustaining traumatic injuries, he passes away from his injuries. One of the young men who attacked him, Darius McCrae (Dante Brown), is being tried as an adult for the crime.

The question posed around the squad room is a difficult one. Darius is only fifteen, should he be tried as an adult or as a juvenile?

What struck me about this episode was that hate is a waste. It is a waste of time, of breath, of life.  The end result was that Darius was tried as an adult and his crime was labelled as a hate crime. He would not be a free man until he was in his 20’s.

There was no reason for Avery to die and Darius to spend his formative years in prison. In the end, two lives were forever changed and two families have to face the reality of the loss of their child.

I hope it was worth it. It feels like a waste to me.

 

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