cover image Free to Be: Understanding Kids and Gender Identity

Free to Be: Understanding Kids and Gender Identity

Jack Turban. Atria, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-6680-1704-3

Psychiatrist Turban debuts with a vital parenting guide for raising trans children. Writing for parents who may have little familiarity with trans terminology, Turban explains the basics of gender expression and the importance of using the right pronouns. A wealth of client stories addresses common questions and misconceptions. For instance, Turban pushes back against the fallacy that trans people are merely depressed by recounting how the poor mental health of one trans teen from a conservative Southern state was caused by her anxiety about coming out and improved substantially once she did. Delving into the science of gender affirming care, Turban explains how taking testosterone or estrogen changes the body and how puberty blockers fool the brain into ceasing the production of certain hormones. The numerous medical studies discussed make an airtight case for the benefits of such care (one paper found that taking puberty blockers while attending therapy improved trans teens’ mental health significantly more than therapy alone). A bravura chapter forcefully debunks the premises of antitrans legislation, noting, for instance, a study that found “policies that force transgender youth to use the bathrooms of their sex assigned at birth were associated with dramatically elevated rates of sexual assault against transgender kids in schools.” Thoroughly researched and buoyed by empathetic patient stories, this ranks among the best guides available for parents of trans children and teens. Agent: Todd Shuster, Aevitas Creative Management. (June)