Transitions of the Heart
Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children
By Rachel Pepper (Editor)
(Cleis Press, Paperback, 9781573447881, 240pp.)
Publication Date: May 2012
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Transitions of the Heart is the first collection to ever invite mothers of transgender and gender variant children of all ages to tell their own stories about their child’s gender transition. Often transitioning” socially and emotionally alongside their child but rarely given a voice in the experience, mothers hold the key to familial and societal understanding of gender difference. Sharing stories of love, struggle, and acceptance, this collection of mother's voices, representing a diversity of backgrounds and sexual orientations, affirms the experience of those who have raised and are currently raising transgender and gender variant children between the ages of 5-50. Edited by Rachel Pepper, a gender specialist and co-author of the acclaimed book The Transgender Child, Transitions of the Heart will prove an invaluable resource for parents coming to terms with a child’s gender variance or transition.
Rachel Pepper holds a Masters in Counseling in Community Mental Health and is currently working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in the care of the LGB, transgender and gender variant communities. Her clinical skills are in demand in both the LGBT mental health field and as an eating disorder specialist. Rachel also holds a Masters in Journalism and is the author or co-author of three previous books including The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals and The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians, both published by Cleis, as well as the Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life, published by the Princeton Review. An experienced public speaker and events planner, Rachel has organized symposia, presented at conferences, and held workshops throughout the country on LGBT health and mental health related issues. She previously was the coordinator of the LGBT Studies program at Yale University.
"The stories of unexpected twists in the journey of parenting should resonate with all of us who have ever been surprised at the directions our children take."
"Sometimes, the T” in LGBT” seems to hide behind its fellow letters. Your friends and family might not even know what it stands for, but Transitions of the Heart explains in a gentle, celebratory way. That’s a very useful beacon for anyone who feels isolated as their transgender child begins to embrace who (s)he is. But it’s also important, I think, that editor Rachel Pepper includes stories that aren’t so rosy mixed with the stories of acceptance and encouragement. That added a stronger, more authentic message to this book and quashed the Pollyanna-ish tone it might’ve had otherwise. But it’s not just for parents of trans children. There are useful lessons about acceptance and unconditional love that will resonate with many parents, gay or straight."
"Transitions of the Heart is a moving collection of very personal stories, and I hesitate to reduce the nuances of each to general themes. One of the strengths of the anthology is, in fact, the diversity of stories. Mothers from across the United States (and a few from Britain) describe the fears and joys of parenting a trans child, whether that child is transitioning on the eve of retirement or just entering kindergarten. Families are Euro-American, African-American, Latin-American and Asian-American. Families are queer, single parent- or blended-family homes, as well as your husband-wife-kids prototype. There are urban professionals and rural hippies, Bible-thumping Baptists and Jewish-Italians."
The Corner of Your Eye
"A heartwarming collection of 32 personal accounts, Transitions of the Heart details the changes and challenges” faced by mothers of transgender children, ranging from deep grief over losing a son or daughter to rage at the ignorance of school administrators. The courageous voices of these moms come through this book’s pages with emotion and stark honesty. I defy you to read Anna Randolph’s What I Didn’t Say” and not be moved. One lesson learned? I now realize that all children are born exactly as they are meant to be,” writes Betti Shook."
Baltimore Gay Life
"Uniformly heartwarming and edifying, Pepper's labor of love will prove enriching and galvanizing for parents currently in the throes of their own familial transgender odyssey."
The Bay Area Reporter
"[A] heartwarming collection This deeply personal book should prove an invaluable, inspiring resource."
"For every thriving transgender or gender non-conforming son or daughter, there is a parent who has struggled, searched, listened, and loved. Rachel Pepper’s Transitions of the Heart is a compelling and moving compilation of the personal stories of mothers from all walks of life who have taken that journey. The first book of its kind, it is a must read for anyone who is a parent, works with a parent, or wants to learn about a mother’s courage to overcome personal barriers, stand up to an unfriendly word, and stand by her gender creative child."
Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, author of Gender born, Gender Made
"For many transgender or gender nonconforming people, our life journey is riddled with struggle, solitude, and a long road toward self-acceptance. The love from a mother is a treasured gift. Transitions of the Heart captures the complexity and depth of a mother's journey to understand and support her child --- a child who, confronted with questions, fear and self-doubt, is sometimes the one who leads the mother to understand the true meaning of unconditional love. The stories told in Transitions of the Heart are are brave, honest, compelling and timely. They represent a powerful tool that can guide a parent from struggle to acceptance."
The Jim Collins Foundation
"These honest, deeply felt testimonies of parents discovering and grappling with the unexpected difference of their trans child -- exemplify the grace of parental love. I am moved to tears reading these stories, amazed continually by the insight, tender reflection, and courageous love that each parent exhibits in their struggle to understand their trans child, and to parent responsibly and with inspiration. The book, Transitions of the Heart, restores my faith in the world."
Max Wolf Valerio, author of The Testosterone Files
"As a mother it’s easy to relate to the concerns expressed by the contributors to Rachel Pepper’s new book TRANSITIONS OF THE HEART. These mothers represent a variety of family arrangements, life stages, and backgrounds... but they communicate the love for their children, hope for their future, and self-doubt of their parenting skills familiar to most mothers. What happens when parents learn their child is transgender? How is it different if they are adults, or still in school? Will they be safe? Can they be happy? While the experiences are specific to being the mother of a transgender child, any mother can relate to the feelings the women reveal. The mothers we meet in these pages can be our friends, our neighbors, ourselves."
Eden Lane, Host/Producer - In Focus : Colorado Public Television