Wednesday, 18 January 2012

LGBT Reading Challenge: Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents

This is the first book that I've managed to finish reading this year and I quite enjoyed it. I'd go so far as to say that if I'd been able to sit down with nothing else to do then I'd have read it through in one go.

This book is edited by Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels and contains the personal stories of 21 children of parents who are gay, lesbian or transgender.

The essays document how youngsters have dealt with their parents relationships with same sex partners or changing sex and show how attitudes have changed from when people had to keep their sexual identity hidden away and pretend that they were heterosexual for fear of a backlash from people in the communities that they lived in. The stories explain how hard it is for children, whether young or older to have to keep their parents secret.

The book provides an excellent picture of American life, as all the contributors live in the United States, when being gay or transgendered was something to keep hidden away.

Being individual stories its easy to pick up and read a chapter at a time. As someone who is transgendered it gives an insight into what youngsters go through, something that you can't really imagine unless you've been there or have a child that will share their feelings with you.

For a child of someone that is gay or transgendered the book would be useful to see that you aren't alone and that there are others that have experienced what you might be feeling.

Society has moved on since the writers had their experiences and so youngsters today wont necessarily go through the same things but fear of what people will say or how they will react wont have changed that much and seeing how others dealt with similar situations and knowing that they've got through it might be of help in the long term, less so in the short term.

It would be interesting to have an up-to-date version with essays by youngsters who are growing up, or have grown up, with parents who are gay or lesbian in order to compare their feeling, fears and experiences.

The book has a list of resources at the end. As the book was written for the American market the organisations listed are based in the United States. A list of resources that support children in similar situations in other countries would be useful as from personal experience trying to find organisations that provide support to children of transgender parents has been very difficult. Especially organisations where the children can discuss things amongst themselves and provide support to each other.

As a transgender parents I found the book useful as it gave me an insight into what my son might be thinking and feeling. As a resource for youngsters I think the book is a useful starting point for teenagers as it provides lots of good points to start a conversation on.Thi

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