Back when I requested some books from a transgender perspective this memoire called Love Lives Here by Amanda Jette Knox was recommended by my local bookstore. It follows a family, written from the mother’s perspective, as first her daughter transitions to who she truly is. Then the final bit looks at the transition of her wife becomes who she has always been.
This isn’t a book that’s designed to help you learn more about how to address transgender issues specifically. It opens the troubles that a family has as their members start to live the lives that they feel fit them.
One of the things that stuck out to me was the practice of dead naming someone. This is when you use their “old” name or gender instead of the one that they are now. This is why I was specific about the genders I used in the opening paragraph, to stay truthful to the people they are.
Another issue, that I’m grappling with as I look more at transgender topics, is the assertion that medical intervention in a child before they finish puberty causes irreparable damage to them. In contrast Knox cites studies that show forcing a child to stay with their birth assigned gender increases the likelihood of suicide to a rate that’s higher than almost any other marginalized group1. Knox also talks about the long wait times for intervention increase the rates of suicide and depression in transgender people2.
After reading this book the biggest topic of discussion at my house was around the author marrying a man (I say man here to try and make it clear not dead name anyone) who later finally felt free enough to express how trapped they felt in that body. We discussed this because of the vast change it would bring to a relationship as partners had to come to terms with their relationship on entirely different terms.
Knox is clear that her wife has always been a woman, but was trapped in their birth assigned gender which was reinforced by society. That her wife was depressed and hard to be around for decades before she was able to live authentically and how much better their relationship is after the transition.
Now the author doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of the transition though. She talks openly about how much harder it was for her to come to terms with the transition of her spouse compared to the transition of her child.
Should You Read Love Lives Here by Amanda Jette Knox?
If you’re looking for a book with a bunch of statistics and long thought out arguments about transgender topics and how to work through them as a family, this isn’t the book you’re looking for. If you want a story of a real family grappling with the transition towards authenticity of two of its members, this is the book you’re looking for.
I found the book to be well written, and while I won’t say it answered my questions around younger transgender people, it certainly showed the struggles that society imposes on them. Struggles I never want to contribute to.