Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Detransition, Baby contemplates what gender, sex, and parenthood really means when the unexpected happens.
Reese thought that she had it all in place - a loving relationship with Amy, a not so terrible job, and an apartment in the city. She had successfully carved out a so-called good life that is often out of bounds for trans women. The only thing missing was a child to fulfill her desire to become a whole woman. It all falls apart when Amy decides that life would be simpler by detransitioning and resuming his life as Ames, a cis man. Ames, now somewhat settled back into life as a man, begins a relationship with his boss, Katrina, and she becomes pregnant. Knowing that Reese's singular desire was for a child, he proposes the three of them raise the child together.
I'm going to start by saying that as a white, cisgender, straight woman, I don't know if I am exactly the best person to be writing a review on this book. At 33, I am still trying to navigate the complexities of gender identity and want to be respectful of a community that I am learning more about.
All that being said, this was an emotional whopper of a book. It actually took me several weeks to finish because the style is so different that I had a really hard time getting into the book. The non-linear timeline is somewhat disconcerting and slippery as you try to get to know the characters. Once you are in it though and begin to really understand the characters, it really picks up.
This is not a plot driven novel, it's more of a character study of what trans means to different people. Peters raises timely questions and observations. What does it mean to identify a certain way? How do transwomen fit into the conversation surrounding motherhood? Detransition, for me, is at its most poignant as Reese shares the complexities and loss that occurs as women talk about pregnancy and motherhood. There is no accepted way for transwomen to process this, as described by Peters via Reese, ultimate loss.
“As a child, I needed so badly. When someone could meet that need, it was beautiful. It was the proper place for mothering. Now I need that proper place for myself. My sense of hope, my sense of a future, they are both reliant on having a child. I want to see what I cherish live on. Does that make it clear why I want to be a mom? Is that acceptable?” -Detransition, Baby
I can certainly understand why this book created so much buzz while remaining incredibly polarizing. It's ambiguous, indulgent, chaotic, and confusing at times, but at its heart it is an incredibly moving book.
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