Friday, 5 August 2016

I Promised Not To Tell: Raising a Transgender Child

Author: Cheryl B Evans
Genre: Non-Fiction, Canadian
Type: e-book
Source: Author
Publisher: SmashWords Edition
First Published: July 15, 2016
First Line: "Imagine that you have just had a beautiful, healthy baby."

Book Description from GoodReadsIn the beginning, transgenderism was not even on Mom’s radar. There was a so much to learn. She went from knowing nothing at all about the subject to becoming significantly more knowledgeable. She partook in a journey of learning that evolved into one of self discovery for her as much as for her transgender child. There were valuable lessons and gifted blessings along the way. There were also times of great heartache and pain. Mom was strengthened, she was tested, she wept and she prayed and in the end, she survived as did her transgender child.

The journey this family took is spelled out in the pages of this book in the hope that it offers encouragement, support and wisdom to others who may have found themselves on a similar path. Mom shares many of the resources she used along her own family’s journey and extends to you a friendship that goes far beyond the pages of this book.

This is a uniquely written and thought provoking true story which transitions beautifully between the family’s personal journey and some of the larger societal issues that face the transgender community today.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Review: I agreed to review this book because, while I'm not a mother of a transgender child, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand. There has been so much in the media about transgenderism in the last few years but it was often relayed with a very slanted and sensational purpose.  My knowledge thus far had been to see some transgender celebrities on TV and read Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt a couple of months ago. My knowledge base was meager to say the least.

With I Promised Not To Tell, Evans has shone a bright light on the emotional, social and personal implications of someone struggling to be their authentic gender.  This is Evans' personal story as a mother of a transgender child and how her family helped her daughter Jordan transition from female to male within the Canadian health, educational and legal systems.  Her writing style is quite casual and has an easy-going conversational feel and yet she has provided a great resource for parents of transgender children as well as the general public to get a better idea about the struggles for those who are transgender.

This is a story about family and two parents whose only desire is for their two children to be happy.  This fact is proven time and again in the book as Evans details how they educated themselves about transgenderism and became staunch advocates for Jordan as he transitioned from female to male as he went into puberty.  Evans admits her family's mistakes during the process and details their struggles to come to terms with the reality that their child/sister is transgender.  There was a lot of adjustment to expectations and it seemed that their older daughter Mariah struggled the most.  Evans touches on how Mariah was influenced by people with strong religious convictions (who deem transgender people being 'not of God') and while Mariah is said to be someone who doesn't want to be in the spotlight, it would have been interesting to get her personal, and no doubt, emotional take on the changes her sister went through.  I respect the fact that Evans has changed the names of her family and hidden her own identity to honour her son and his desire to remain anonymous.

This is a great book for the general public to get an idea of what transgender means but ultimately it is a wonderfully detailed resource for parents of transgender children with a very personal feel.  It is a guide to help parents understand and be able to navigate the educational, health care and legal systems as their child transitions to their rightful gender.  For a small book, Evans packs a lot of information about gender dysphoria (gender identity disorder) and issues affecting transgender people including the washroom debate, dating, others thinking that transgenderism can be 'fixed', the risk of entrusting the knowledge of your transgenderism to a romantic partner, gender affirming surgery (commonly referred to as gender reassignment surgery) etc.  She also outlines the importance of being able to change the gender on passports, birth certificates, driver's license, health cards etc - something I had never given much thought to - and how being denied the right to change that little F to an M or visa versa can impact a person's need to be considered their correct gender in every aspect, including legally.

At the end of the book Evans provides her readers with many resources for further information.  Evans has done the leg work and successfully raised a confident and much happier son which will hopefully aid other parents in similar situations.  Through this book I hope that Evans is able to open some minds, provide some clarity to gender dysphoria and dispel myths and misinformation surrounding transgenderism.  Evans has proven that love for one's child is a very strong motivator and I applaud her for bringing her family's story forward to help others.  If you or someone you know is struggling with gender dysphoria I highly recommend this valuable resource.

Favourite Quotes

"Everyone's life matters and everyone deserves to be happy but not everyone is in a place where they think, or even believe, happiness is possible."

"The most basic thing about transgender people is they truly believe they're the gender they identify with! Transgender women do not think of themselves as men wearing women's clothing, they ARE women."

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

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