Amazing Transformations

assemblySometimes a book comes along and I think to myself, “everyone I know needs to read this.”  Imagine my complete and utter delight when, last weekend, I read a pair of books coming out this Fall from Simon & Schuster that took my breath away, opened my eyes, and uplifted my hope for a better life.  And now I will have the opportunity to share these memoirs with you, book friends.  And you must pick them up and in turn share them with everyone you know; really, it’s that important.

Honest, clear-eyed, and emotionally impactful, Some Assembly Required and Rethinking Normal are the memoirs of Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, two teenagers who have transformed their lives in the last few years and whose character, courage, and honesty are inspirational.  Arin was born in the body of a girl but, as Emerald, never felt right in that body or all the girly clothes and activities of a typical little girl.  Growing up less than 100 miles away, a boy named Luke knew something was wrong with him, but had no words or way to explain the feelings that engulfed him.  While young children, both Emerald and Luke were able to express their preferences in small ways, but as they both got older and their bodies, and society’s expectations of them, changed, they fell into depression, isolation, and self-loathing.  Katie writes:  “what makes me female is something I felt in the core of myself: that my external body did not match up with how I felt inside, and that I was being seen by others as something I was not. I know this can be a difficult, abstract concept if it’s not your personal experience, but it was mine.” (44)

At a critical point, when both Arin and Katie were on the brink of suicide, each stumbled upon the answer to the question that had always plagued normalthem, realizing that they were transgendered.  Knowing that they were not alone, while by no means solving all their problems, was enough to infuse a small amount of hope into each teen and prompted them to reach out to the one person they both hoped they could trust to help them, their mothers.  As both Arin and Katie make clear, it was by no means easy, nor readily accepted, that their birth body did not match their true selves, but once their mothers did accept the truth, both Arin and Katie had powerful allies in their corners to help them on the road to true transformation.

I’m moved to tears by the moment-to-moment choices that these two young people made to withstand the years of confusion, self-loathing, and bullying they faced and then to move steadfastly, openly, and courageously into the whole-hearted lives they want for themselves.  Every human being has felt like an outsider, has felt vulnerable and afraid, and has felt that the challenges in his or her life may at times be insurmountable; it’s in these times that we need to know about, be encouraged by, and find true compassion for ourselves and others in the real-life stories of people like Arin and Katie.

  • Posted by Cori

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