CW: gender dysphoria, deadnaming, and bullying
I’m waayyyy late to this book.
You might ask why. I’m trans. I’m pretty open about that being a part of my life. So, why did I wait so long to read a book that’s being lauded as a heartfelt book about a transkid?
Because I’ve been burned many times by books that are labeled as that and about transpeople. Half of the time, it’s a sobfest of all the hard issues that transpeople face, including deadnaming, transphobia, bullying, outing, death, suicidal ideation, and extreme descriptions of gender dysphoria. Sometimes, it even misrepresents the people since the big authors who write these stories aren’t trans. They’re cis. All while trans authors are struggling to get their ownvoices works published.
Just once, I want a happy book with a transperson in it.
I finally have this book!
Now, I know the book is called “George” and that “George” is the MC’s birth name. But, she refers to herself as Melissa and that’s her chosen name. So, she’s Melissa in this review and always will be Melissa. Think of it as someone deciding not to call me Caidyn because that’s not my “real name”… even though legally it’s been changed to that and that’s the name I’ve lived in for years.
As basically all of you know, this book is about a transgirl and her coming out experience. Melissa desperately wants to play Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Her best friend is the super supportive and amazing Kelly. Her mom doesn’t quite get it and she has an older brother, Scott, who doesn’t know either.
And this is how she comes out to them and finally gets seen as the girl that she is.
It was incredibly sweet to read. As I said, there’s deadnaming in it (mainly because Melissa hasn’t told everyone the name she’s chosen) and definitely descriptions of gender dysphoria, but, overall, this was a happy book. It was a great book to read during Pride and I’m incredibly happy that it’s available for young kids to read and perhaps put a better name to what they’re feeling. It’s also easy to wrap your head around as a parent and an adult. It doesn’t dumb things down. It just makes it easier to understand.
This is one of those books that I wish that I’d had as a kid. Now, I never felt gender dysphoria as a child. I was pretty chill in myself. More friends that were boys than girls for a long time. My mom didn’t enforce any gender things on me, so I could play with what I wanted to. (I loved cars. I had a bff, Andy, in preschool and we’d play with them. I got bitten over a toy car there, too. Those were the days.) I also played dress-up and I’d fluidly go between male and female characters. One second I’d be playing Harry, then I’d go to Hermione, then I’d be Aladdin or Mogli.
But, being trans wasn’t a thing that was talked about. I think the first time I was exposed to transpeople was when I was 13 — so, a few years before I came out to myself and my family — and in Thailand. A transwoman there was in a shop we were shopping in because we didn’t pack what we needed so we were buying jeans. She was gorgeous and I didn’t have a clue that she was trans. But my parents did and they told me later.
I didn’t grow up with it in the news. I didn’t grow up like these kids are. And, maybe, if I’d had this book or more exposure I’d have realized sooner. So, it makes me incredibly happy that this book exists for younger kids so they can have a name for how they’re feeling and expressing themselves. Also, it’s a great book for parents to use to introduce their kids to more diverse topics and to help their kids understand people who aren’t like them.
I’d definitely recommend this book to other people. It was just fantastic in so many ways — supportive friends, school environment, and, in the end, family — and it’s the happy trans book that I’ve been searching for.
Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you have any other happy trans books you’d recommend?