Beyond Pronouns, The Essential Guide
for Parents of Trans Children,
written by Tammy Plunkett,
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2022
In the introduction, author Tammy Plunket writes, “Welcome to your safe space. If you’re the parent of a child who just came out as transgender, a thousand questions are swirling in your mind, and a confusing mix of emotions sits heavy on your chest. I know just what you’re going through because my own child, raised as a girl, told me he was transgender when he was eleven years old. This book is meant to answer some of your questions and help you understand that those emotions are absolutely okay.”
In the first chapter, Tammy explains that when her son first came out as transgender, she wanted control. She wanted to prevent the pain of others judging him. She wanted to protect him from bullying. She wanted to help him avoid the complications of a lifetime of medications and surgeries. She then writes that what Mitchell, her transgender son needed most from her was curiosity. He needed her to listen to his thoughts and feelings. She learned to “ask open-ended questions and dance with all the options and possibilities.” She writes, “The world is a much different and much more colorful place when you approach it from the space of curiosity and humility instead of wanting to be the expert and control the situation. Because in the end, what you can control is much less than you’d imagine. You can manage your response. I suggest you respond with the curiosity and the open mind of a lifelong learner.”
This open, non-judgmental guide for parents and loved ones of gender-diverse children also includes a single page titled “You Time” at the end of every chapter. During “You Time” Tammy recaps important information covered within the chapter and encourages parents to take a minute or two to center themselves and incorporate what they have just learned while also thinking about their own uniquely personal situation. The foreword to this book is written by Mitchell, Tammy’s transgender son who inspired his mom to write this book. As of the writing, he is 16 years old and has been on hormone replacement therapy for about two years, while still waiting for top surgery to become an option for him. Mitchell writes, “My mom is one of my best friends … Mom was with me for every single doctor’s appointment, psychologist appointment, and discussions about hormone blockers or testosterone… She was there when people were rude or discriminatory. She was there when I wanted to change my name and gender on my birth certificate. She was always there for me whenever I needed her, for which I am forever grateful… I am proud to see this book come to life.”
Offering gentle guidance through the first hundred days and beyond, Tammy uniquely addresses the need for parents to be supported so they can best care for their child. The reader will find ways to face common fears, have important conversations with their child, learn what social transition looks like, find the right professional care, be a good ally, and much more, with age-appropriate approaches that aim for a happy and connected family. There is a chapter titled “Frequently Asked Questions” as well as a “Resources” section and a thorough index at the back of the book. The audiobook (5 hours and 31 minutes) is also excellent and easy to listen to. I listened to the audiobook and had a paperback copy by my side, so I could reread and highlight important sections.
Tammy Plunkett is the mother of four children, all of whom identify within the LGBTQIA+ acronym. Even though she is most vocal about the journey with transgender son Mitchell and trans daughter Rose, her children are a huge reason for her advocacy work. Tammy is a certified life coach, writer, and speaker, who began her career as a registered nurse. She lives in Alberta, Canada. Learn more about Tammy by visiting her website tammyplunkett.com which includes articles, blogs, podcasts, and additional resources.
This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans advocate Barb Shumer, who is a past board member and retired public librarian.
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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