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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  9,444 ratings  ·  1,530 reviews
When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasnt 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 ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published October 20th 2015)
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Nancy Shelton Its easy to say that others who struggle with an issue are bigoted and narrow-minded but especially in the context of discussing this book, it seems…moreIt’s easy to say that others who struggle with an issue are bigoted and narrow-minded but especially in the context of discussing this book, it seems like the wrong conversation. I’m thinking specifically about Wayne Maines, who boldly admitted how difficult it was for him to live his daughter’s journey with her for much of her childhood. Before parenting Nicole, Wayne could easily have been one of those people who were unaccepting, bigoted and/or narrow-minded. I’m proud of Wayne for transforming himself and I don’t want to focus on the bullies and people who denied Nicole the right to a peaceful and happy adolescence. Instead, I’d like to thank both Amy Ellis Nutt and Wayne Maines for helping me understand the complexities and realities of being transgender.

I started reading this book because I work with preservice and inservice teachers. One day this past week, one of the preservice teachers with whom I work asked for my advice in how to help create a safe environment for one of her first grade students who is gender nonconforming. I could not offer any supportive advice, however, I promised to research the ways we educators can help, to find children’s literature appropriate, and to do my best to come up with pedagogical suggestions. I turned to my own professional community for support and one of my peers suggested this book as a resource for parents. I thought, “Well, if it’s good for parents, surely it will be good for teachers,” and the next day I checked it out from my public library.

Amy Ellis Nutt’s exquisite writing, her ability to help me feel like I was a neighbor to the Maines family, and her explanations of genetic, biologic, social, legal and personal issues surrounding transgender children have changed me personally and professionally. I thank the Maines family for sharing their story and I thank Amy writing it. (less)
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My views are far from politically correct so if being pc is important to you, pass on by....

Is there an explosion of gender-confused people in the West or is it just acceptable now, and it never was before, to speak of the confusion aloud? Why does it strike me as weird that a man wants to become a woman so he can be with another woman because he really a lesbian inside but other people understand this? I don't disbelieve any of these people, anyone who is willing to go through gender
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

This book had some very valuable things to say in terms of family and finding strength in times of difficulty, but I think that the sections on the evolving legislative battle across the U.S. was the more interesting part of it. I appreciated Nicole's story a lot, and definitely feel it was told well, but I would have preferred hearing more from Nicole herself. However, the sections on worldwide views of gender, the breakdown of what being intersex means and the ways it proves that
Diane Yannick
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Becoming Diane is a never-ending process. You would think I'd have it all figured out as I close in on 70. Not so much. I have an open heart/mind and liberal beliefs. Plus I read a lot. I have a friend who is transitioning-- FTM (she taught me to use these letters signifying female to male). I have a 10 year old granddaughter who told me that she's glad that she's okay being a girl. A boy in her acting class told her he used to be a girl. She passed no judgment but thought it would make life ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about a more traditional American family and how they come to accept and fight for their transgender daughter, Nicole. Born as Wyatt Maines, Nicole had always preferred more feminine toys and activities, in particular when compared to her twin brother, Jonas. Kelly and Wayne Maines, Nicole's parents, accepted their daughter's transition from male to female with kindness and open minds, though Wayne took more time to warm up to the idea. When Nicole's middle school discriminates ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: transgender, lgbtq
I consider myself quite open to LGBTQ people and the movement for greater recognition and consideration, especially in terms of legal rights. However, I went to school at a time when transgender individuals were not identifying themselves as such, in contrast to today where there are several transgender children in the school system in my town. So, in a way, I was uninformed on much of the difficulties faced by transgender individuals and this book changed that for me. It really opened my eyes ...more
Nicole Maines's story is simply a story about growing up and becoming who you are. The circumstances aren't simple, it's true, but author Amy Ellis Nutt writes in such a way that you feel you know and understand Nicole and her family. That Nicole knew she was a girl when she was a toddler named Wyatt doesn't seem strange; it's just that she knew who she was even when her body didn't match.

Transgender issues have come to the forefront lately, at times somewhat sensationalized in the case of
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this -- it's informative, heartbreaking, and inspiring, but I kept wishing it was narrated by the teens. While I particularly appreciated the science and the perspective of the parents and their unique struggles (and victories), it was the teens' voices that were still missing for me. Hearing about them was important, hearing more from them would have been even more powerful.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
Originally posted @
I loved this book. It is very enlightening and would be so helpful to the people that are full of hatred toward transgender people to help them realize how fluid gender is. Being Transgender as the book explains so well has nothing to do with a person's sexuality. There are actual medical reasons for a person that is transgender to be that way. It is written in the voice of the father but by someone outside the family so it does not have as much of
Gia Drew
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through damp eyes and under the fading November daylight, I just completed "Becoming Nicole, The Transformation of an American Family", by Amy Ellis Nutt. I was slightly hesitant to read the story because I know and have worked with several of the main characters. I also wavered because I'm trans like the title character, and I'm always afraid and often dubious of how non-trans folk write about us. But after I was given a copy of the book directly from Wayne, I thought I'd better get to it.

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

This is a story of a remarkable family. Wayne and Kelly thought their lives were complete when, after years of infertility, they were able to adopt her teenage cousins newborn twins. Though identical, from a young age the boys were very different: Jonas was a typical boy, while Wyatt loved pink, princesses, and makeup, and insisted that he was a girl. Wyatt, of course, ultimately became Nicole, and this book follows the familys journey through conflict with the schools, a landmark
Extremely accessible introduction to gender identity issues. This heartwarming story of an ordinary family fighting to make a safer world for their transgender daughter is both engaging and informative. While the Maines family is central to the book, there is also a ton of information on the science behind gender development. This is one of the few non-fiction books that I have stayed up way too late reading!

Lesson number one: Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with, he told Spack. Gender
Book Riot Community
Nicole Maines won a landmark transgender rights victory when she and her family took her Orono Maine school district to court for failing to provide her with the same access to school facilities as other female students. But behind the headlines was the personal journey of a transgender child who knew from the age of two that Im a boy-girl. And that journey took place in a close knit family context, with parents who werent even sure what transgender meant at first, a father who struggled to ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 dont 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 ...more
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love someone who is transgender, you should read this book. If you love someone who loves someone who is transgender, you should read this book. If you align yourself with the virtues of perseverance, dignity, and compassion, you should read this book. You will be so glad you did.
Kaethe Douglas
A marvelous introduction to transgender equality issues (and equality issues in general in public schools). The Maines family have to be thanked for their education, advocacy, and their admirable frankness. It can't be easy for anyone to fight for the rights their children deserve, or to balance such a fight against the needs of the family for privacy and "a normal childhood". Nutt shows the struggle for rights and the costs of that struggle, with no obvious efforts at myth making.

I cried pretty
Maddison Wood
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've ever read about someone who is transgender, and I am in awe. This was so wonderful and positive and beautiful, and I completely fell in love with the Maines family and the journey they've been through. As a member of the LGBT community myself, I hear way too many sad stories about transgender individuals. Nicole's story is so refreshing and uplifting, and I am so happy to know that people like the Maines family exist. This book makes me believe that the future is ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched and the author seems to have spent massive amounts of time with the books subjects to report so extensively on them.

But I couldnt help but feel that we didnt actually get to know Nicole very well as a person, and both her brother and her father come through more strongly in individual characterization.
Perhaps its because both Nicole and her mother Kelly dont change much; both seem pretty sure about who they are and how they feel about things since near the beginning.

While Wayne
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having a transgender daughter myself, I was extremely interested in reading this book. When I started it, I was afraid it was too much information on every aspect of this family's life. I worried that it would be too time consuming to read the entire story. But I didn't need to be concerned. This book was fascinating, from cover to cover. It was so well written and engaging that I basically couldn't put it down, and I finished it in just a few days. It is an excellent view of the joys and ...more
Emily B.
Interesting story, but not an overly deep look at the situation with simplistic writing
Kailyn Kausen
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
RTC. Eye-opening. 4/5 for the journey and knowledge, 3/5 for the writing.
Laura Stone
Mar 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I HATED this book. H-A-T-E-D. It succumbed to every. single. mainstream trope about transgender people that exists (before/after pictures, referring to the person by their birth name as opposed to their chosen name, a fixation on genitalia and in-depth description of surgery, focusing on The Bathroom Issue). The constant fixation on normalcy, traditional values, ugh ugh ugh. I am clearly not their target audience.

My heart goes out to the family, and I'm sorry they had to go through the
Wendy Goldstein
Interesting and enlightening but wish the story was told more from the voices of the family and not the narrator. While I was rooting for the Maineses family throughout the book, I thought the writing got a bit boring for me at times.
Kaje Harper
This book is part memoir and biography, part documentary of the social and legal journey that a young transgender girl and her family took to achieve her goals and affirm her identity. The writing was well done, readable, and clear. The difficulties and hard moments, the doubts and setbacks, and the range of reactions from people around Nicole are well presented, and set in context. It was a very interesting narrative to me, as a cis parent.

This does not have the deep and personal perspective
Susan Cushman
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written, straightforwardly told, nonfiction story of a Maine family with male twinsidentical except one knows himself to be a girl. Calling herself a boy-girl from an early age, the child is accepted as female by her mother, brother, and most other children. But challenges lie ahead, the most important one being acceptance by her father. Nutt does a good job describing how the dad gradually embraces the reality of having a transgender daughter, how school officials fumble the ...more
Lindsay Nixon
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is both a memoir and non-fiction. It educates and brings light to transgender issues and civil rights that should be afforded to all humans. It also gives the perspective of Nicole, and her family (mainly her mother). It is heartbreaking and heartfilling.

I will never walk in their shoes but by allowing me into their thoughts, their experiences and their histories, I am better informed. Education is the anecdote to discrimination. People fear what they dont know and react
Lucy Qhuay

'If not for me I feel like I need to do this for Wyatt. I need to do this to make up for everything that he had to put up with. I need to do this to apologize to him. I need to do this to show him that it was all worth it. I need to do this to thank him for not giving up and for giving me a chance...He always remembered that there was something to be gained from putting up with everyone else's nonsense - he was going to have the body that he always felt like he deserved and was meant to have.
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Becoming Nicole:The Transformation of An American Family,by Amy Ellis Nutts, narrates the true story of the Maines.Nutts narrated the story of this American family who welcomed adopted twins to their sweet home. Both of them shared twins and were formerly borne as male, but a particular Wyatt felt more like a Nicole.

This book clarified the terms: gender identity and sexuallity, in a way that no other book or article had before.The specific quote which sums it all for me is Lesson number one:
Sharman Wilson
I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about transgender issues as they affect real people in their everyday lives. In this case, we are invited into the life of a family living in rural Maine. Wayne and Kelly have adopted a pair of identical twin boys, Wyatt and Jonas. As the boys grow, their parents become confused and concerned when, from the age of two, Wyatt consistently sees and speaks of himself as a girl. This family's fierce love for their child takes them on a long and ...more
Nutt took a crack (get it? lol) at a timely issue that keeps popping up in the press. I really enjoyed this autobiography because it gave a personal, scientific, cultural and social look at what being transgendered really means. Nutt struck a balance of making the book personal by giving us the story of the Maines while providing us with historial information on the struggle of being a transgender.

I really felt for the Maines and what an uphill battle they had to fight with their daughter
// Trigger warnings in this book: depression, bullying, homophobia, transphobia //


I liked how informative this book is, how it's written in an accessible language that doesn't take away from the importance of what's being said.
It was a riveting read and something I'd recommend to whoever wants to learn more about gender identity and the struggles a family had to go through to make sure their kid is okay.
I am glad Nicole had a supportive family and even though her journey was anything but easy
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Nonfiction Naviga...: Transgender Youth 1 13 Dec 08, 2016 03:16PM  
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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 ...more

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