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Sunday, December 13, 2015

(86.) Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt


Wayne and Kelly Maines always knew they wanted children so, when they were unable to have their own they adopted identical twin boys, Wyatt and Jonas.  From a very young age it was evident that Wyatt was different than his brother.  Wyatt preferred to play with barbie dolls, wear clothes from the girl section, and walk around the house pretending he had long hair using a bath towel.  He was practically a toddler when he declared that he hated his penis.  At first Kelly and Wayne are at a loss of how to handle Wyatt, but his insistence that he is a girl will not end and all they know is that he is their baby and they will do anything for him.  Kelly starts to  research and starts to believe that Wyatt is transgendered.  While Kelly researches, advocates, and buys clothes from the girls section, Wayne keeps his head down and struggles with how to process the fact that his son wants to be his daughter.  Around the fifth grade Wyatt changes his name to Nicole and wears his first dress to school and that is when the real fight begins  Together the family faces challenge after challenge to get equality for Nicole.  Together the family faces bullies of all ages.  Together the family will stand in courtrooms and at conferences to help one and all to understand that all Nicole wants to be is a normal girl.

Becoming Nicole is the story of one American family told by Amy Ellis Nutt.  From the very beginning I could relate to Kelly and even empathize with Wayne.  They are a middle class, conservative family and their beliefs were being challenged by their child.  I have nothing but mad respect for the way Wayne and Kelly handled raising Nicole. It may have taken Wayne longer to process and accept, but he was the one to dance with his daughter at the school's Father/Daughter dance.  He was the one to stand in court and defend his daughter.  He was the one invited, with Nicole, to go to the White House.  The family, including Jonas, made great sacrifices for Nicole, but they would have it any other way.   To say that the author did a great job telling the Maine's story is an understatement, she doesn't just tell you Nicole's personal story, but he covers history, science, and more in her effort to help people understand exactly what it means to be transgendered.

Bottom line - people fear what they don't know or understand and I believe statements of ignorance come from a place of fear.  I am sure we have all seen the hateful things said about Caitlyn Jenner over the last few months and I believe the majority of them come from people who just don't understand.  But Nicole is not Caitlyn, Nicole is a beautiful young woman who knew who she was from a very tender age.  If just one person comes away from reading Becoming Nicole with a changed perspective, then Amy Ellis Nutt and the Maines family have done their job.


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