It’s a big transgender week in our household. We just hosted a get-together to meet some of the other families of transgender children close to us. NBC Nightly News is running a two-night series on transgender children, Bruce Jenner has an interview with Diane Sawyer later this week, and the Mister and I received our copy of You Are You by Lindsay Morris. We happily funded the Kickstarter campaign for this project and now that we have the book in front of us, we couldn’t be more impressed.
I haven’t had the opportunity to go to the weekend camp that brings transgender families together, but looking through the photographs in You Are You made me wish that we’d gotten our act together and made the trip. My initial reaction is to tell you that You Are You is filled with pictures of children. And it is. These kids are playing in fields, gathering flowers, showing off in front of friends, getting ready for a show, holding hands with each other, and making memories.
But this book is so much more.
It starts with a beautiful poem, Bedecked, by Victoria Redel that somehow manages to capture the beauty of a boy loving a sparkly world, the struggle a mother faces in wondering if it’s prudent to allow him these pleasures, and a challenge to society that would tell him that it’s wrong. I was immediately all goosebumps and ugly crying. Now, I want to sit in a bookstore with her and drink coffee and chat about the world. I’m running to the library tomorrow to get one of her books.
I could devote an entire blog post to the foreward from Dr. Norman Spack to discuss his point about the need to include gender fluid children in our conversations. He encourages readers and our culture at-large to take into consideration the individuals who fall outside the gender binary of male and female. Many children are somewhere along a spectrum and what Dr. Spack discusses in his forward, Lindsay Morris is able to capture with her camera.
Jennifer Finney Boylan writes about her experiences in summer camp as a young boy and her wish that the feathers she earned for camp achievements would stamp out her heart’s desire to be a girl. Her words, aching but without bitterness, reveal to me the thoughts deep in the hearts of so many transgender children.
But the photographs. Have you ever looked at a rainbow and tried to pull out the ROY G BIV that you learned in school? I’ve tried so many times as a child and as an adult to find the line that distinguishes the red from the orange, the orange from the yellow, and so forth. I can see the red and I can see the violet. But, there’s this beautiful tapestry of colors in between that I can’t always distinguish.
That’s what you’ll find between the covers of the book. There are girls and there are boys. But, the point being made, is that these are children being children. I feel that it would be a huge disservice to Lindsay Morris to try and put words to the images on the page. It would be like trying to describe all the colors in that rainbow. There are so many shades of gender on the pages. Shades that are loud and outspoken, others that are subtle and layered. Some are colors waiting to blossom. I can only encourage you to take the link to see the webpage. There were photographs that made me smile and laugh, others brought me to immediate sobs. I found myself wondering about the children on the pages, their families, their experiences, what they went through outside of the protective bubble of camp. It made me feel ALL the feels. It made me feel like we weren’t alone.
The book is full of words from parents. There is so much wisdom in one book whether it is done with a pen or the look in a child’s eyes. I hope you’ll consider buying the book but do yourself and the world a favor and go look at the website. There’s a letter “To the Unicorn’s Dad” written by fellow blog writer Bedford Hope (Accepting Dad) that makes me smile and cry and want to high-five him. The forewords from the book are there as well as some of the photos. There’s a place to donate to Camp You Are You if you feel led.
I’ve gotten the chance to share the book with most of the people who have come into my house over the past few days. I’m excited to be able to share it with you as well. I’d love to hear your comments about the book.