I attended my transgender granddaughter’s B’nai Mitzvah ceremony last weekend

Hello everyone. I had a busy weekend of traveling and a family event this past weekend, and simply couldn’t get around to writing up a book review this week. But the usual highlights from this week’s new book releases are below. The books in the photo above are my weekly 15% off advertised new release choices on the website. And yes! Your 15% DAILYKOS coupon code discount stacks on top of already-discounted titles, so you can get bigger savings!

We flew from Phoenix to Kansas City last Friday, the first time we’d been on a plane in over three years, in the before times pre-COVID. That trip three years ago was also to Kansas City for a family event: the Bar Mitzvah of my oldest step-grandson. The trip this past weekend was for the same reason: the Mitzvah of the younger child in that family. In this case, the ceremony was a B’nai Mitvah, a genderless version of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, because last year the boy who had been my step-grandson came out as transgender. The synagogue was fully supportive of the ceremony.

This was my first time seeing her since this change. She has the full support of her family de ella, and they are all getting counseling as the decisions regarding puberty blockers or other hormone treatments must be dealt with soon.

She seems very well-adjusted, is very bright and artistic, and as lively and loving as when we last saw her three years ago (when she was still he). It was interesting to observe her over the weekend. At times she spoke of wishing she had a greater circle of friends. At this point, she still doesn’t feel fully comfortable using either gender bathroom. She requested as B’Nai Mitzvah gifts that donations be made to The Trevor Project, which offers support to LGBTQ youth, so she is clearly aware of the political forces the GOP hatemongers are riling up. It’s tough for her parents de ella too, when states are literally passing bills to criminalize their very parenthood. Ella’s older brother seems fully supportive as well, and the two of them remain as close as they have been in earlier years. Uncles, aunts and cousins ​​in attendance this weekend were supportive as well, though the grandfather on the other side of the family, an 80 year old conservative who was my wife’s first husband, seems a bit grudging about it all.

There was a party at a roller rink afterwards for her friends, and it was very heartening to see this younger generation take gender and sexuality differences in stride. They seemed totally accepting of this choice by their classmate of her, and indeed there are a number of gender-fluid students in her school of her. It’s all very different from my childhood in the late 1960s.

I’d picked up a book from the library a few weeks ago: Trans Kids: Being Gendered in the Twenty-First Century, by Tey Meadow, just to see if I could pick up any insight. Some interesting stuff, but also rather dry. It was more interesting to see her in person. Adolescence is never easy, and her path certainly has lots of additional challenges. The statistics on transgender teen depression and suicide are alarming. But right now, she seems good, and we’re hoping she can come for a visit soon. For me, being a part of the Daily Kos community means being very steeped in transgender politics, and I’m happy to be able to have some first-hand experience in the issues.

A small sampling of books of interest on the subject of transgender children and teens (and there are many, many more!):

  • Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens, by Stephanie A. Brill and Lisa Kenney. Published in 2016, this book is a follow-up to Brill’s previous book, The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals, written with Rachel Pepper. An update version of that latter book will be published in June, and is available for preorder.
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference.
  • Obie Is Man Enough, by Schuyler Dance. A novel for ages 10 and up. A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie.
  • Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, by Jazz Jennings. Jazz transitioned starting at age five with the support of her parents de ella, and has been a top media spokesperson on the issue. She was also the co-author of an earlier picture book for young readers about her childhood de ella: I Am Jazzwritten with Jessica Herthel, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas.
  • Ana on the Edge, by AJ Sass. A novel for middle school readers. A heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.
  • Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope, by Jodie Patterson, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. A picture book for young readers. Jodie Patterson, activist and Chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board, shares her transgender son’s experience in this important picture book about identity and acceptance.
  • Calvin, by JR and Vanessa Ford, illustrated by Kayla Harren. Another picture book for young readers. A transgender boy prepares for the first day of school and introduces himself to his family and friends for the first time.
  • Act Cool, by Tobly McSmith. A YA novel in which a trans teen walks the fine line between doing whatever it takes for his acting dream and staying true to himself.

This Week’s New Hardcover Releases

I also post a comment in the Black Kos diary every Tuesday highlighting books of interest to BIPOC. You can read today’s comment HERE.

  • 8 Billion and Counting: How Sex, Death, and Migration Shape Our World, by Jennifer D. Sciubba. The author argues that the story of the twenty-first century is less a story about exponential population growth, as the previous century was, than it is a story about differential growth–marked by a stark divide between the world’s richest and poorest countries.
  • Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation, by Maud Newton. One writer’s attempt to use genealogy—a once-niche hobby that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry—to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors offers all of us.
  • The BBC: A Century on Air, by David Hendy. The first in-depth history of the iconic radio and TV network that has shaped our past and present.
  • Ever Green: Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet, by John Reid and Thomas Lovejoy. Clear, provocative, and persuasive, Ever Green is an inspiring call to action to conserve Earth’s irreplaceable wild woods, counter act climate change, and save the planet.
  • Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire, by Caroline Elkins. This study of the British Empire probes the country’s pervasive use of violence throughout the twentieth century and traces how these practices were exported, modified, and institutionalized in colonies around the globe using an evolutionary and racialized doctrine that espoused an unrelenting deployment of violence to secure and preserve the nation’s imperial interests.
  • My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route, by Sally Hayden. A staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa, in a groundbreaking work of investigative journalism. With unprecedented access to people currently inside Libyan detention centers, Hayden’s book is based on interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants who tried to reach Europe and found themselves stuck in Libya once the EU started funding interceptions in 2017.
  • On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union, by Daisy Pitkin. A bold five-year campaign to bring a union to the dangerous industrial laundry factories of Phoenix, Arizona. Immigrant workers wash hospital, hotel, and restaurant linens and face harsh conditions: routine exposure to biohazardous waste, injuries from surgical tools left in hospital sheets, and burns from overheated machinery. Broken US labor law makes it nearly impossible for them to fight back.
  • Pathological: The True Story of Six Misdiagnoses, by Sarah Fay. Both a memoir and a work of investigative journalism, The author—who over 30 years was diagnosed with six different mental illnesses (anorexia, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder)- – explore the ways we pathologize human experiences.
  • Who by Fire: War, Atonement, and the Resurrection of Leonard Cohen, by Matti Friedman. In October, 1973, the poet and singer Leonard Cohen – 39 years old, famous, unhappy, and at a creative dead end – traveled to the Sinai desert and inserted himself into the chaos and bloodshed of the Yom Kippur War. Moving around the front with a guitar and a pick-up team of local musicians, Cohen dived headlong into the midst of a global crisis and met hundreds of fighting men and women at the worst moment of their lives. His audiences of him heard him knowing it might be the last thing they heard, and those who survived never forgot what they heard.

All book links in this diary are to my online bookstore The Literate Lizard. If you already have a favorite indie bookstore, please keep supporting them. If you’re able to throw a little business my way, that would be appreciated. Use the coupon code DAILYKOS for 15% off your order, in gratitude for your support (an ever-changing smattering of new releases are already discounted 15% each week). We also partner with Hummingbird Media for ebooks and Book.fm for audiobooks. The ebook app is admittedly not as robust as some, but it gets the job done. Libro.fm is similar to Amazon’s Audible, with a la carte audiobooks, or a $14.99 monthly membership which includes the audiobook of your choice and 20% off subsequent purchases during the month.



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