Book Review – Becoming Nicole

by Amy Ellis Nutt (Atlantic Books) ISBN 9781782399698

Imagine your luck when you find out that although you have not been able to have children, your teenaged cousin wants you to raise her child? Then the luck is even greater when you discover that she is carrying identical twins! Your husband is even more excited to hear they are boys and he is already shining his hunting rifles and fishing rods to teach them all the manly things they need to know.

Then think how you would feel when you realise one of the two-year-old twin boys is more interested in Barbie dolls than toy cars…”It’s just a phase,” you think, laughing it off. Then, at four, he wants to wear pink dresses to playschool and grow his hair long…Then he asks his father when his manly bits will fall off so he can be the girl he feels he is already?

This is the conundrum Kelly and Wayne Maines face when one of their twin boys declares that he is a girl trapped in a girl’s body. At first, the school is helpful and allows Wyatt to dress in a more feminine manner, and when his name is officially changed to Nicole, the kids welcome this as they have seen Wyatt as a girl in their eyes for so many years already.

All does not continue smoothly when one of the boys in the class and his conservative grandfather decide to make Nicole’s life hell because Nicole has been allowed to use the girl’s restroom at school. This results in a petition that is won by the opposing side. Eventually, Kelly realises the only way to help Nicole avoid this harassment and bullying is to move far away from Maine and to not tell anyone she is a transgender child who will have a gender reassignment surgery when it is legally possible at eighteen.

This book is written factually, with research and case studies added to show the pain that transgender children and adults feel. There is a high suicide and depression rate amongst this group of people because they feel alienated and judged for something that is outside their control.

One way of explaining this is that sexual orientation is who you go to bed with and gender identity is who you go to bed as. This is a fascinating success story about how one family managed to assist their child in self-actualisation with as little trauma as possible.

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff

Posted on: 15th August 2016