Archive for the ‘Transgender’ Category

Having attended a Jazz Jennings interview during the American Library Association annual conference in June (and having scant prior knowledge of who she is–I’m probably the only such person in the world), I was impressed. She was your typical fifteen year old, other than the fact that she was being interviewed primarily regarding her LGBT advocacy. And while I didn’t have time to stand in the (long) line to get a copy of her book autographed, it sparked an interest. (Lucky thing I’m a librarian and can order books for our collection.)


I said in my post about Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston that there are serious books describing various, sometimes debilitating, trauma experienced by victims of rape, bullying, etc. However, similar to Hermione in Exit, Jazz has the benefit of strong family and friend support and so her transgender experience is vastly different and probably vastly better than many young girls and boys in similar situations. Both books are very positive.

In Being Jazz, Jazz describes the early feelings of being a girl in a boy’s body, wanting to wear girl’s clothing and play with dolls instead of trucks. She describes not being able to use the girl’s bathroom (it was interesting that the Orlando Convention Center had several unisex bathrooms), not being allowed to play on the girl’s soccer team. Yet, in the background, her parents were fighting the fights required to change the rules. I’m sure many (most) parents of transgender youth don’t have the knowledge or resources (time and money) to do all that the Jennings did.

She describes the onset of depression and how she handles it. She talks about friendship and shows a lot of spunk and self confidence when saying if someone doesn’t love her for who she is, then the friendship isn’t worth pursuing. She talks about the awards she’s won and the people she’s met.

Despite her experiences and the associated maturity, Being Jazz has the feel of being written by a fifteen year old (there’s no ‘with assistance from ___’ in the credits) and that’s good because maybe other fifteen year olds will be inspired by it…more so than if an adult wrote about being transgender.

No such book would be complete without a resource listing. Being Jazz includes the following: websites, depression outreach services, books for kids, books for teens and adults, educational books for parents of a transgender child and movies/tv.

All in all, Being Jazz was an enjoyable and educational read. It could be and should be a primer about what transgender means and how trans kids are no different than any other kid, having the same hopes and dreams.


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IfYouCouldBeMineIt boggles my mind that a country could accept (and even pay for) sex change operations yet consider homosexuality a sin. Apparently there is nothing in the Bible that says a person can’t change the gender of his/her physical body, but there is something that says having sexual relations with a person of the same sex is a mortal sin.

Sara Farizan in her debut novel, If You Could Be Mine makes this abundantly clear as seventeen year old Iranians Sahar and Nasrin are in love but must keep their feelings secret. It comes as quite a shock, especially to Sahar, when it is announced that Nasrin’s parents have promised her hand in marriage to a doctor, Reza. The wedding is in three months. Sahar cannot think of living life without Nasrin and while Nasrin says they can still see each other after the wedding, Sahar knows it can never be.

Sahar contemplates all options to cancel the wedding and claim Nasrin as her own, including undergoing the long and painful sex changes operations. She is introduced to transgenders through her cousin, Ali, who is gay. None of these people say life is easy after the changes, but at least they are in the body they should have been born into.

Sahar wonders whether her father, who has been in a depression for the several years since Sahar’s mother died, would even notice if one day she came home sporting a beard. Or would he disown her?

This is certainly a new and relevant twist on teenage sexuality. Sahar and Nasrin are two distinct personalities, one serious and determined, the other flighty and always in need of attention. So, it comes as no surprise, although in my mind it was a bit far-fetched, that Sahar should consider drastic measures to keep Nasrin. Farizan also brings up the question: would someone who loves you romantically as a woman, feel the same way if you were a man? Good question!

While, if you read this blog regularly, you know my absolute favorite books on this subject, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan is certainly up there on the list. It is an absorbing read.

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