Dotson: My Journey Growing Up Transgender
Written by Grayson Lee White, with illustrations by Stephanie Roth Sisson. Published by West Margin Press, 2023.
For as long as he can remember, Grayson, now just thirteen years old, has known he is a boy, not a girl. While his identical twin sister loved wearing princess dresses and dancing ballet in a tutu, Grayson preferred his Spider-Man costume, sweats, and collared shirts just like his dad wore. He tried to explain to his mom when he was just three or four years old:
“I know I’m supposed to be your daughter, but I feel more like your son. I guess I’m your – Dot-Son – My mom loved the name and it stuck for a few years until we learned the correct term for what I am: transgender.
Another thing that Dodson remembers about his early childhood years is that every opportunity he had to make a wish, over birthday candles, or as he blew white dandelion fluff into the air each spring, he wished for the same thing, “Can you please make it so that I was born a boy?” As he got older, the wishes became more rational and realistic: “I wish I looked like a boy.” “I wish people called me a boy.” “I wish this whole transitioning thing will work out.” “I wish the shots wouldn’t hurt.” “I wish people wouldn’t be mean to me.” “I wish that someday I’ll be a boy … one way or another.” Happily, a lot of Grayson’s wishes have already come true. He is a boy now, legally, and in many other ways. He started wearing boy styled clothes at age three, got a true boy’s haircut at age six, and started going by a new name Grayson (that he chose for himself) and using he/him pronouns at age seven. Grayson’s parents also helped him at age eight, get official court documents approving his new name, and a birth certificate with a gender change to “male.” Now that he has started hormone blockers (medicine that delays puberty) at age twelve, Grayson’s last wish is also well on its way.
This is a beautifully written memoir by a thirteen-year-old boy who has known from the very start that the gender assigned at birth was wrong. He takes us through the different parts of his journey from self-discover, to sharing feelings with parents and family, to learning moments at school, from how to tell elementary school teachers and classmates that he’s transgender, and figuring out what bathroom to use, to legal challenges, and first experiences with doctors, therapists, and shots.
This book is written as a chapter book for early elementary school age readers, with easy-to-read language and colorful illustrations adding context on many pages. It will certainly help children, and parents of children in this age group better understand what it means to be transgender, and what it means for children to find their authentic selves. Even though the book is written for young readers, I highly recommend this book for all ages, starting with early elementary through adult. It will help adults who are still confused about what it means to be transgender understand that being transgender is not a phase, and that when transgender kids are loved, appreciated, and understood for who they are, from day one, their stories are happy ones. Grayson includes his own glossary at the end of the book, as well as a list of resources for transgender kids and families.
Grayson Lee White, (he/him) is thirteen years old and this is his first book. He writes “I’ve known since I could barely walk that I wanted to write and publish a book someday. It looks like that someday is now- you are reading my first book! Although I’m transgender and that’s an important part of my life and what this book is about, it isn’t normally a big part of my personality or my writing. The stories I usually write are fantasy mixed with realistic fiction. So, expect more books to come. I want to be known as a good author, not just a good trans author.
This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans advocate Barb Shumer, who is a past board member and retired public librarian.
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