Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin

blackbird_reads's review against another edition

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informative reflective fast-paced


cchipman's review against another edition

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dark informative medium-paced


I love the concept of this book, but the outcome not so much. I was disappointed with the sexism and the binary view of gender roles. 

heather3879's review against another edition

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informative medium-paced


This was a great concept, poorly executed. I was really interested to read about these teens, but the book was poorly structured and there was not a great deal of depth to any of the stories presented. I appreciate that the author wanted to allow the teens to speak in their own words, but a good interviewer and writer should lend some structure and dig deeper with strategic questions. These are important stories and deserve a better presentation. 

c100's review

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challenging emotional hopeful informative reflective slow-paced


bookish_selkie's review against another edition

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emotional informative inspiring reflective medium-paced


kmishmael's review against another edition

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emotional informative reflective medium-paced


shoshin's review

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informative fast-paced


I read this book for a banned books reading challenge. It's a straightforward book that features several trans teenagers telling their own stories in their own words, warts and all. I think some of the stories are partially about things that people like to pretend don't happen to kids, and that's why the book gets banned. But it's pretty inoffensive to my mind, and helpful to understanding what trans teens are thinking and feeling. 

blurrybug's review against another edition

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I really adored this book.
As a cis-woman I can never put myself in the shoes of any of these people but it was nice to be able to get a view of their life and their story.
Honest and raw, powerful and beautiful this book had me both laughing and tearing up.
I really recommend this to anyone.

I'm also glad the book had resources for further reading and more importantly had a section of "Service and Advocacy organization" and "Legal organization"

crabbygirl's review against another edition

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the author opens the book by stating authors are supposed to be objective but then betrays that objectivity by admitting she is awestruck by their bravery. a weird intro. and one I suspect she had to make for the book to even be published. she talks with 6 youths, ages spanning 16 to 22

Although Jessy was quick to state they never hated their body or were gay-bashed, the circumstances of their life tell a different story: raised by a religious family, announcing they were a lesbian caused her mom to withdraw from her, and their high school disciplined outward signs of lesbianism. puberty brought hated breasts and bras... Jessy's own words, separated by only a paragraph or two, were often contradictory: pg 18 "I was still going to the women's lockers" then "Ever since I started transitioning, I've used a stall in the men's room. Jessy finally gets a girfriend who initially refuses him b/c she is attracted to older women. even when the GF relents, she still calls Jessy 'she' and speaks of her attraction to the female parts of Jessy. One of the saddest comments from Jessy was this: "before, the guys on the street wouldn't respect two women together. But now they see me as a man, they back off" By the end of the interview, Jessy takes T but stopped binding; they are comfortable in their in-between-ness. I think Jessy is going to be OK

weirdly, the author frames the next subject, Christina, in the worst possible light: describing in her a type of anger that initiates a conflict and has no problem grabbing a woman by her throat (a type of anger that usually comes from males). Christina is unable to reconcile her self image with the perceptions of others: "some girls say I look like a man. I don't know how they can pick it up but they do." Christina also came from a religious family and first thought they were gay. but they also toyed with the idea of wanting to be a girl. An older brother, also gay, introduced him to cross-dressing. more than the clothing, Christina especially loved the attention she got in school when she showed up in women's clothing, and even allowed her fellow classmates to touch her budding breasts. the hormones reduced their sex drive and this suits Christina (although she did admit to a 'ho' phase). She has an one and off again boyfriend who treats her poorly; her insecurities allowing him this leeway. I don't think the future is bright for Christina who will not pass consistently and who so desperately needs external validation.

Mariah is next but given her history and her refusal to be photographed (for a pictorial book), her inclusion is a mistake. this person is deeply troubled, mentally and physically abandoned by their family (alcoholic, prostitute mom dead when Mariah was 10, never knew father, neglectful grandmother often fearful of them). oversexualized at a young age (they put their hand down the pants of a young girl they just met when they were six), medicated for ADHD at 6 and then committed to a hospital for threatening her grandmother with a knife, Mariah's chaotic life never settled down. at 8 they were put in a children's home due to allegations that Mariah would not elaborate on and here Mariah speaks vaguely about sexual relationships with other kids in care and maybe even adult caregivers that she characterizes as not abuse but curiosity sex. in and out of hospitals, children's homes, psychiatric centers and at times with her grandmother, Mariah got fat which gave them curves (they liked that). she threatened teachers, pushed a pregnant woman onto the floor, was put on more and more medications, lost weight, was put in juvenile detention center, fell in love (inappropriately) with caregivers, and was sexually abused, often consentually. This is not a person with a stable personality or stable mental health. at the end of the interview she is 19 years old, 7 months on hormones (another medication in a long line of them), has changed her name at least twice (and Mariah was chosen for Mariah Carey and a teen's obsession with one of her songs) and might never address and recover from his/her tumultuous childhood. this 'transition' is yet another distraction.

Next is Cameron, who is using transition in the way my generation used goth. they started questioning their gender at 14 and two short years later, have burned thru many permutations to arrive at gender fuck (blending girl, boy and neither "stuff") and absolutely love being photographed - a record breaking 11 picture in a row for this entry! proud that their parents work in the non-profit sector (and not the corporate world), hating the rich white part of town (they are white, and middle class), being the president of their GSA, and fluent in the language and pitfalls of male privilege, Cameron embraces all the current ways of being. like Jessy and Christina, Cameron first thought she was gay (age 13) and went thru phases in 7th and 8th grade to find a niche they liked. they decided they were trans while at hippie camp and were very focused on the minutia of officially coming out to her parents and getting a new wardrobe in time for their summer vacation in 2 weeks time. Cameron states they are not dysphoric but want hormones and top surgery. a month before they turned 16, Cameron started hormones and has been on them for a year. Cameron speaks about the energy and libido they gets from the T shots and the lethargy of the days before the shot. I think Cameron might, in time, desist but the effects of the drugs are addicting. weirdly (and given the abundance of photographs that belie its use), binding is never brought up.

Nat developed relatively late. that, combined with the awkwardness of not fitting in, made her reach for an explanation. since she got her period so late, Nat went to 5 different doctors at different times and one of them used the word intersex. this is the explanation that Nat has settled on and for reasons I am still not clear about, intersex is part of the trans community. she also comes from a religious family that punished her when she was caught kissing a girl. she originally was given estrogen by a doctor to correct for her malfunctioning ovaries but is now on testosterone, has broken contact with her family, and is living on her own. I imagine they will continue to identity as trans as this is the only support system they have. it looks like a lonely life from my vantage point

Luke is difficult to separate from their career aspirations: actor and playwright. they wrote down their story as a series of scenes and, as such, a reader like me might question if the 'plot development' was all true, or merely good for the story. Her/his section opens with a long poem that references magenta, a nod to the title of this book. at 12, they went to a theatre called Proud Theatre (it gets it's own sidebar in the book so I imagine there was some collaboration. ie: someone from Proud Theatre was going to be profiled) and joined it at 13. Luke immediately felt accepted and embraced by the adult mentors. the first role for which they were cast was trans man, yet at the time, Luke still identified as a female. this entire environment could be accused of funnelling Luke toward transition. since the theatre is their whole life, their friendships, their career path, could Luke have these opportunities as a non LGBTQ entity?

I have to say, when you ask a teenager to sit down and tell you their life, it's going to be ALOT of introspection, telling stories that SEEM important at the time and general navel gazing. what else could it be? they haven't had much experience yet! young people should be free to explore their identities and be allowed to change, and often. but more importantly, young people need to live a life outside themselves. get out there and DO. too much self-focus leads to a habit of narcissism.

yapha's review against another edition

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An important book. Recommended for grades 10 & up.