Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers

Cris Beam, Author . Harcourt $25 (323p) ISBN 978-0-15-101196-4

In this gripping, illuminating and deeply moving portrait of transgender teens in Los Angeles, the smallest incidents reverberate sharply. Beam, volunteering at a support center for trans teens, helps a young woman named Christina make changes on her driver's license: her name from Eduardo and the gender from male to female. The DMV clerk adamantly refuses to make the adjustment and only acquiesces after the humiliated Christina has a meltdown and Beam, pretending to be an ACLU lawyer, demands a supervisor. Christina is one of several, mostly minority, male-to-female transgender women to whom Beam becomes attached. Their group interactions—including fights, friendships and daily struggles to survive—form the center of the book. Though these women's lives are difficult—when Christina is beaten during an attempted rape, she has to lie to the police about being transgender—there are also moments of quick wit. As Beam morphs from parent to therapist, chum, cheerleader and legal adviser, she seamlessly blends memoir, reportage and advocacy. The result is a vivid and fiercely empathetic narrative that juxtaposes dead-on portraits of these young women with clearly articulated fury at a culture that's not only fearful of anyone who deviates from traditional gender roles but treats minorities and the poor with contempt. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/02/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 323 pages - 978-0-15-603377-0
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