The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

Jodie Patterson. Ballantine, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-17901-3
Patterson leaves no emotional stone unturned in her powerful chronicle of her experiences being the mother of a transgender child. Patterson, an activist and former magazine ad executive who grew up in 1970s New York City, was already mother to a daughter, Georgia, and a son, Cassius, when Penelope was born in 2009. Almost from the start, Penelope was constantly angry, and then, as a three-year-old, told Patterson, “Mama, I’m not a girl. I’m a boy.” While Penelope’s mother, father, and siblings—a brood that grew to include two additional brothers—accepted him without question, neither Patterson nor Penelope were exempted from thoughtlessness and intolerance of others. “The story of trans people, to me, was shaping up to be very similar to the story of Black people,” Patterson observes. “Stories in which some have tried to rewrite people’s identities to serve their own needs.” A pleasant surprise came when they explained to Penelope’s religious Ghanaian grandfather, to refer to Penelope as “he”: “Ayy! It’s no problem at all! In my language of Twi, Jodie, we don’t use gender pronouns,” he replied. Patterson’s raw tour de force illustrates the strength of a loving and determined mother. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Release date: 02/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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