Saturday, July 15, 2017

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
By Susan Kuklin
Candlewick Press, 2014. 182 pages. Young Adult Nonfiction

Beyond Magenta is a window into the lives of six teens who have blurred traditional gender lines. Kuklin conducted personal interviews to write the book, but she quickly fades to the background as full page photos and first-person narratives help the teens tell their own stories. Four of the six teens are transgender, identifying themselves with a different name and sex than what appears on their birth certificates. From childhood to college years, these teens describe their lives and the pivotal events that led them to where they are now. From the first time they questioned their gender, to coming out to their parents, to making the decision to transition, each of the four has something new and different to share. The remaining two teens are queer and intersex, respectively, and their tales broaden the book even further by calling into question the simple delineation of trans-gendered and cis-gendered.

I saw this book on a library display and couldn’t look away from the beautifully androgynous teen on the cover. It intrigued me. Wasn’t the point of swapping genders to be convincing in your chosen role? Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what would happen next. Would Jessy’s family accept him as a “him”? Would Mariah achieve the body she always wanted? The more I read, the more my original question about the cover lost its meaning. Beyond Magenta demonstrates that gender isn’t a black-and-white dichotomy, but a spectrum, and that any place on the spectrum can be okay. This book can be hugely helpful for teens who are exploring their own gender identity, but I think the intended audience is broader than that. All of us could be more understanding of the transgender community, so I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about LGBTQ issues.


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