Monday, May 5, 2014

Book of the Week

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

by Susan Kuklin

Published by Candlewick Press, 2014
182 pages ISBN: 978-0-7636-5611-9
Age 12 and older

“My subjects’ willingness to brave bullying and condemnation in order to reveal their individual selves makes it impossible to be nothing less than awestruck.” (Susan Kuklin, from the Introduction) Six transgender teens share their journeys to coming out into the open as their true selves in this gathering of voices in which each offers insight into being transgender as part of their broader identities, and in the context of their families, their communities, and a society not always ready to accept, let alone embrace, the truth about this aspect of who they are. The profile of Christina includes a discussion with her mother, who initially struggled but now celebrates her daughter’s strength and courage. Cameron is full of idealism and looks for ways to challenge perceptions of gender every day. Mariah says, “Transition? Everyone goes through one kind of transition or another….Except mine is maybe a little more extreme.” Nat has battled severe depression but is hopeful about his future. Jessy notes, “I’m embracing my in-between-ness. I’m embracing this whole mix that I have inside myself … So forget the category. Just talk to me. Get to know me.” In the profile of Luke, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, Kuklin shows the important role community and adult mentorship can play as he talks about his work in a local LGBTQ theater company and its impact on his self-understanding: “Portraying a trans person came really, really easily….because I was acting the role of a trans man, I could explore being trans deeper than I could by just thinking about it.” Most of the profiles include wonderful photographs taken by Kuklin of the teens. A glossary, extensive resources, and an interview with the clinical director of a program providing outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens rounds out this groundbreaking, inspired, essential work. (MS) ©2014 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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