Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

by Amy Ellis Nutt
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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt


The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for The Washington Post

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.

Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately, Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same.

Praise for Becoming Nicole

“A profoundly moving true story about one remarkable family’s evolution.”People

“Fascinating and enlightening.”—Cheryl Strayed

“Exceptional . . . ‘Stories move the walls that need to be moved,’ Nicole told her father last year. In telling Nicole’s story and those of her brother and parents luminously, and with great compassion and intelligence, that is exactly what Amy Ellis Nutt has done.”The Washington Post

“If you aren’t moved by Becoming Nicole, I’d suggest there’s a lump of dark matter where your heart should be.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“Extraordinary . . . a wonderful and inspiring story.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A downright necessary book—and a remarkable act of generosity by the Maines family.”BuzzFeed

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812995428
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/20/2015
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 7,425
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Amy Ellis Nutt won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for her feature series “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” about the 2009 sinking of a fishing boat off the New Jersey coast. She is a health and science writer at The Washington Post, the author of Shadows Bright as Glass, and the co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Teenage Brain. She was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, and an instructor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a touching, sensitive, and caring story of the journey of a young woman growing up and her remarkable family. While the author reviews the substantial medical research on transgender people, she never lets the technical details get in the way of the story of Nicole, her identical twin brother Jonas, and her supportive parents as they come to terms with Nicole's gender and the discrimination that they faced. The author is careful to depict all parties fairly and shows their good and not so good points instead of taking the easy way out and painting cardboard cut-outs of good and evil. While you may feel, as I do, that some of the school officials and certain others acted callously and ignorantly, it is important to remember, as the author does, that these people often acted on deeply held sincere beliefs. I hope every school administrator in the country reads this book and takes to heart Nicole's eloquent story of how she and her classmates had no problems until adults jumped in with their rigid, pre-conceived notions and the pain she suffered as a result. Even people who have no interest in transgender issues will enjoy the story of determination and of a close-knit family's love and support for each other. Highest recommendation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! I completely agree with everything "anonymous" below said by beginning with "This is a touching, sensitive, and caring story...." That reader took the words right out of my mouth and there's no way I could've said it better. Bravo, fellow reader and a shout out to all the friends and family members of the Maines family that supported them through thick and thin. They are very fortunate to have you in their lives!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learn a lot about life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an absorbing story of transformation and redemption on many levels. It is personal, yet takes into account family, community and cultural issues. It is narrative, and also explains the latest science on gender and gender expression. Members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters will find it inspirational. Others will find it the same, and it has the power to open minds and hearts. For the curious, this family's story will answer questions and give new insight. It is well-written and researched. I recommend it for all!
Anonymous 5 months ago
I am a 61 year old wife, mother, grandmother, and a hair stylist for the past 32 years. I already knew a lot about transgender, gay, bisexual, Etc. I have always embraced anyone that was different from me. This book added to my knowledge and made me even more open-minded. I love the whole Maine's family! I respect you all and Hope that I hear wonderful things happening for all of you in the future:-)
lynnski0723 More than 1 year ago
When I saw the picture of Nicole on the cover of this book, I remembered seeing her in a documentary I watched a few years back regarding transgenders. I immediately knew it was a book I wanted to read. I don’t know any transgenders personally (that I know of) but I do know there are a couple at my daughters’ high school and that our county is one of those currently struggling to provide equal rights to those children in our school system. I am very supportive of that cause and hope they do the right thing, but wanted to read more about Nicole’s journey to get a better understanding of what these children go through and the effects it has on them and their families. This book definitely delivered. Some people think a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice….it’s not. It is not something you just change….you are born that way. It’s a matter of accepting it and adjusting life to embrace one’s true self. I believe this book can help people understand that. Maybe open some doors and windows to those living close-minded lives, to become more accepting of others that aren’t like them, that might go against their religious beliefs. Knowledge is the key – this book can provide some of that. Whatever your beliefs, I hope you will take the time to read this book. If nothing else, it will let you know what it’s like to be a little boy that wants nothing to do with being a boy. He’s a “girl-boy” and prefers it that way until he can realize his dream of truly becoming a girl – to then dress how she wants, act how she wants, and be accepted as one of the girls. Because truly, that is what she is. The innocent minds of children can accept her as she is, it’s those darn close minded adults that get in the way. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, not because it’s beautifully written or a great literary piece. I give it 5 stars because it is a wonderful story of love and commitment, finding one’s self, supporting others, diversity, and acceptance. It’s not preachy or critical, it’s honest and educational (without feeling educational). It is truly moving.