Hey, it’s Jay!
For my first post, I decided to talk about coming out. And no, not about me coming out (been there, done that, not fun). Some backstory: today I took my younger sister to the library, and naturally ended up looking for books based off of a list of 30 must-read LGBT novels for teens (yes, this is how I find new content these days). While looking, I stumbled upon a series of probably 7-8 books with the words Coming Out followed by several different names on the spines. Of course, I picked up the first one and read the back, and what I saw disappointed me more than I expected.
Now, to the left is the back of the book I picked up. It’s titled Coming Out: Alex and reads as following:
“Alex has two dreams: to become a farmer and a man. There’s only one problem: Alex is a girl who believes she was born in the wrong body. Until now, she has never shared the truth about herself, not even with her best friend. Alex is about to discover the meaning of the word trans and that her dream can become real. This novel explores the challenging life of a small town transsexual.”
Like I said, I was super disappointed. As a nonbinary teenager myself, it’s very difficult to find good, accurate fiction about other transgender, or, hell, even gay or bisexual teenagers. So, I took that picture, wrote a small rant dissecting it to my friends, and Basil and KR encouraged me to write a more extensive review.
Now, I haven’t read the books, but I plan on reading and reviewing the whole series (after I finish the books I checked out). But for now, I’m gonna focus on just the blurb on the back.
We’ll start at the beginning. “Alex has two dreams: to become a farmer and man. There’s only one problem: Alex is a girl who believes she was born in the wrong body.”
Just in the first two sentences we’ve come across more than one problem. (Note: I’m gonna avoid pronouns because I’m not sure how to approach them in this case.) Alex is not a girl. If Alex wants to “become a man” in the physical sense, then Alex is by all means not a girl. Second, the born in the wrong body argument is kinda ? ??? It’s not something most trans people would say. You can read more about it in this Buzzfeed LGBT Interview with Meredith Talusan, Tiq Milan, Jacob Tobia, and Nico Fonseca.
“Until now, she has never shared the truth about herself, not even with her best friend.”
Not much to say about sentence three, other than pronoun use, but we will continue to avoid pronouns. This is, in fact, fairly reasonable, because I waited quite a while to tell my best friends (at the time).
“Alex is about to discover the meaning of the word trans and that her dream can become real.”
Okay, yeah. That’s fair. We’ve all been there, we all had to learn it. Some of us are still learning.
Hold up. What? Challenging life, check, small town, okay.
Transsexual is an outdated medical term that’s really Not Good, or really even used in the younger trans community, because it refers to physical transition, and genitalia, which is not what you should think about when you think about trans people. Not to mention, once physical transition is complete, many people identify as male or female, and not trans male or trans female. You can read more on this on ISSM.
A lot wrong just on the back of the book. Another thing I noticed (but didn’t photograph) was the dedication page. It was dedicated “In honor of Leelah Alcorn.” Honestly? I find this dedication alongside the potential of the content based on the summary kind of disrespectful. I’m definitely going to go in a read the whole series and pick it apart.