1/5 – DNF at 20%
TW: transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, and others since I DNFed it
Wow was this reread problematic.
But let’s backtrack.
When I was a young transman, still figuring out what the fuck that meant for me, I read this book. Along with a few others. But this one really stood out for me because I remember enjoying it. And it helped me ground myself in basic details.
But rereading it?
Nope. Just… nope.
First of all, it’s told from the perspective of Liam/Lia Marie/Luna’s (I’ll get to her later) cisgender sister, Regan. While I like that a cis author didn’t try tackling this book by writing as a transwoman, I also don’t think that Regan was the right way to get the message across. More to that later, though.
Liam/Lia Marie/Luna was just… ugh. I don’t know how to say it, really. Regan saw her as other. As weird. As different. And I don’t think that was the right way to do it. It really made Liam/Lia Marie/Luna set in stereotypes without trying to confront them. This book was published in 2004, back when we weren’t thinking about this as much as we are now. It wasn’t a publicly talked about thing while it is now. It’s becoming socially acceptable in the eyes of cisgender people. We’re discovering more.
But this book did not age well. It came across as offensive.
You have Regan, who has known that Liam/Lia Marie/Luna (and yes, she’s referred to all those names because Regan couldn’t get that correct) is trans for ages. And she didn’t care enough to do any research to find out about this. So it leaves LLL (I’m too tired to write that out now) to explain it all.
And it’s just infodumping about what some transpeople do with gender confirmation surgeries, called sex reassignment in this book. Not all transpeople go on hormones. Not all have surgeries. Not all have every surgery possible. Hell, I don’t want to have all the surgeries. One was enough thank you very much.
Then, you have the subplot of Regan trying to find herself and live up to her brother/sister (because, again, LLL is called both). And what was the point of it? Why not focus on a sibling relationship with Regan actually caring about her sibling, caring enough to find out more information about this very important thing her sibling is going through? Why not show her progression to understanding and actually using the write language to talk to her with?
It was just… it worked for me when I was navigating this and it helped me prepare for telling my family, along with expecting them to not get it correct 100% of the time because it’s a process even for the most accepting families. And I was lucky to have an accepting family.
But this is not the right book to tell the story of a transwoman coming into her own. Telling it from an outside perspective made LLL feel even more like a freak. This book could have been incredibly empowering but it wasn’t on a reread. It wasn’t even worth my time.
So, do I recommend this? Fuck no. It got to me. It made me cringe. It made me wince. It made me feel bad for this character who is a stereotype of what cispeople think of transpeople. LLL became a walking stereotype written by an author who didn’t seem to understand or have researched what she was writing.
There are better books out there than this offensive piece of crap. And yes, I said it. It was well-meaning, but it’s offensive and plain bad at promoting old beliefs that were on the way out when it was written.
What’s your favorite book featuring a transperson? Recommend it to me because I need another one to get this bad taste out of my mouth!