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“When Cris Beam moved to Los Angeles, she thought she might volunteer just a few hours at a school for gay and transgender kids. Instead, she found herself drawn deeply into the pained and powerful group of transgirls she discovered. Transparent introduces four: Christina, Dominique, Foxxjazell, and Ariel. As they accept Cris into their world, she shows it to us—a dizzying mix of familiar teenage cliques and crushes and far less familiar challenges, such as how to morph your body on a few dollars a day. Funny, heartbreaking, defiant, and sometimes defeated, the girls form a singular community. But they struggle valiantly to resolve the gap between the way they feel inside and the way the world sees them—and who among us can’t identify with that? Beam’s astute reporting, sensitive writing, and passionate engagement with her characters place this book in the ranks of the very best narrative nonfiction.”

This is one of the books I have been longing to read since I was let loose in a bookstore with no supervision. It did not live up to the hype I had created for it in my mind. It was generally dull, but there were many stories that were interesting in it. It failed to capture my attention for large sections at a time.

I have many issues with the book such as saying it is about transgender teens when it barely mentions anything to do with transgender males (female to males, drag kings, etc). Instead it focuses almost exclusively on the author and young transsexual women. The word choice felt misleading as I was expecting some transgender male characters to appear, but yet again transwomen were seen as the main source of transgender.

I felt like I know more about the author and her emotional issues over her childhood than I know about transgender teens after reading this book. This is not a bad thing, but it was not what I was expecting. I was more interested in the author than I was in the teens so this focus was the highlight of the book for me.

I was greatly upset that the author chose to focus on transwomen that prostituted and did copious amounts of drugs as these are large stereotypes of the community. I can see why she would focus on these women as they were the ones she was closest to, but again it didn’t differentiate between transwomen that did prostitute and those who didn’t. Instead I felt like the author thought it was normal behavior for all transwomen to do this.

This book was so close to being a book that was good. Every so often the author would pipe in some facts that supported what she was saying or went against a belief she had. It made the book more than a memoir or a biography instead it started to lean the book toward stand point theory. It did not reach that status, but it was not a badly written book or one that should be mocked. However I think that the author could have made more of an impact on the world by doing newspaper or magazine articles instead of making a book. The book is great, but it does not seem like the most effective way to help the teens the author swears to love like family.

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4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy this book here.

~Isaiah

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