Monday, June 11, 2012
REVIEW: I'm Your Daughter, Too by R. Madison Amato
We generally think of gender transition as the process by which an individual moves from one gender role to another. Although there have been a multitude of biographies and memoirs on this subject, many of which are outstanding, there isn’t much written about the “ripples” such transformation may cause within a family. This book is an account of how such a gender switch affects a family, written from the perspective of the mother of a transgender child who began this change as a late teenager. This is a “journey of self-discovery” for both the transgender offspring and her parents, as a teenage son transforms along the gender continuum, during a six-year process, eventually becoming the author’s young adult daughter.
It isn’t that I'm Your Daughter, Too (the true story of a mother’s struggle to accept her transsexual child) is such a brilliant work, although it’s certainly not poorly written by any means. But there’s something special about a book that grabs the reader as though they were witnessing a train wreck. Maybe it’s the simple, innocent, and almost childlike style that the author employs as she unfolds the story of the transformation of her young adult son into her daughter. In many ways this is a very sad, anguished, yet always hopeful tale of parental loss, grief, eventual acceptance and embrace.
This is the proverbial “coming of age” story, where an individual finally comes to grips with the person who they really are and begins to manifest that to the world. However, in this case, there is a genuine “parallel process” at work where the mother of the transgender child, along with her wonderfully supportive spouse, is forced to closely examine her entire belief system, while she battles her own depression. Fortunately, she and her husband eventually experience their own transformation as they move from initial denial and resistance to eventual acceptance and affirmation.
As parents, we know that it's difficult enough to raise children under even the best of circumstances, and, as the writer profoundly observes, “a parent is only as happy as her least-happy child.” Raising a family that includes three children is a difficult road to hoe, even under the best of circumstances, but when the emphasis is placed on assisting an unhappy and emotionally tormented child, sometimes to the detriment of the other children, that family can easily fall completely out of balance. As if that's not bad enough, when that "special" child doesn’t initially appreciate your sacrifice, and the others come to resent it, one might wonder, as did this author, why she deserved such a fate.
This is a book that is ultimately about the restoration of equilibrium, balance and harmony within a family.
[Reviewed by Samuel]