Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
by Susan Kuklin
Candlewick Press 2014
A close-up look at the teens today who are exploring their gender identities and searching for themselves, as all teens and young adults do going through puberty and thinking of themselves as adults in the world. The six teens in this book range across the LGBTQ spectrum and bring their own unique perspectives and personal journeys into focus for author and photographer Susan Kuklin, who gives them a voice and an image so that they, and everyone else who sees this book, can see the beauty within each of them.
The book is primarily the personal journey, or some portion of the story, of the six teens showcased: Jessy, Christina, Mariah, Cameron, Nat, and Luke. At different stages of transition, each one falls under the broad umbrella of transgender and though each has a uniqie story to share, they all have many things in common. The struggles to be “out” to themselves and to their families, particularly with parents. The conflict of the body inside and the body outside, as with Jessy (formerly Jessica) who identified male but suddenly found that the female body he was trapped in during puberty was getting her period. Or Christina (formerly Matthew) who presented male until after high school and then chose to undergo sex re-assignment. And Cameron, who is the face on the cover. Transgender and sexuality do not always align as well.
From the author’s website:
Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.
This is a really powerful look at the teens who are transitioning and coping with the internal and external conflicts that accompany this complex and complicated area of human development. The photographs are moving and the teens in them are vulnerable and sensitive. Especially moving is the chapter for Mariah who chose not to use any photographs at all.
The back of the book has some really important information for anyone who wants to learn more about LGBTQ issues, and debunks myths with real information from actual physicians. There is also a glossary of terms, the community center where these teens shared their experiences with the author, and other resources in print and online for further in depth information.
Human sexuality can be a fluid and confusing topic for anyone. Beyond Magenta tries to shed some light on what it means to be a transgender teen and give readers a better understanding of the compassion and love we all need – regardless of our outward appearance in the world.
Information about the Author
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her photography to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference.
Awards: None yet.
Content Area: LGBTQ Issues; Family Relationships.
The cover is the best place to start a conversation about this book.
Text Measures/Reading Level:
Quantitative: Lexile Level: HL600
Interest Age: 14 – 17 Years
This book deals with transgender issues and teens and their families who have experienced these issues first-hand. It is very frank and honest, the interviews are candid and the discussions about the emotional and physical process of transitioning from one gender to another are openly discussed. There is clinical information in the book as well as photographs showing the process of transition for five of the teens in the book. Challenges are possible for parents who may object to the subject but the book itself is very professionally done and very well crafted for the teen audience.
Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies
GLBTRT Book Challenge resources and evaluation guidlines for LGBT materials for teens, go to the ALA website at http://www.ala.org/glbtrt/ and the GLBTRT website at http://isd.usc.edu/~trimmer/glbtrt/bibthemeslit.htm
Why This Book?
It was recommended by a teen I know who is gay as a way of allowing me to become familiar with the many nuances of transgender identity.