Once a girl, always a boy Book Review

Summary: Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself.

By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns.

Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

Thoughts: Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

I’m always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people especially when they are not written by the transgender person. Sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated or because of the transphobia that is included throughout by the person writing the story. I went into this one expecting that which is what I got but what I didn’t expect was to learn.

As someone who is transgender it was nice to watch Jeremy’s family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrated by my family not understanding my gender or sexual identity and seeing all of Jeremy’s family react and learn gave me a new perspective. It taught me to give people some time to learn, especially the people who I know are trying and to listen to why they’re struggling with things related to my gender and sexuality. While it did show me the other side of things there were moments that I just couldn’t deal with the transphobia from the family. There is one scene in particular with Jeremy and his older brother in which the brother and Jeremy are both not aware of how Jeremy identifies and his feelings are dismissed.

I think one of my favorite parts of this book was watching as Jeremy learned about himself and the sections that were written in his voice. It was also really nice to watch Jeremy learn about himself and come to terms with each of his identities. I was able to relate to so many moments that are included in this book and loved how much of his feelings are included. It was refreshing to see how his understanding of his identity was constantly shifting and how he slowly leaned into who he is. I loved that this story was centered on Jeremy’s adult years and how so many of his coming to terms with who he is and learning about himself happens in his late 20s. It made my journey as a non-binary transgender person feel normal and let me know that it was okay to not have the answers at my age.

This was a great book to be able to read during this stay at home order because it made me feel understood. This book uplifted me in moments that I was struggling with because living at home with a family who uses my legal name and misgenders me without having an escape from it gets rough. This book was a constant reminder that I decide my identity and even when others don’t see me that way my identity remains the same.

I really enjoyed how this book was written in multiple perspectives and you got sections from Jeremy, the mom, dad, and the siblings. It was great to see so many of the same scenes through different eyes.

I recommend this to those of you who have transgender family members or I recommend this to those of you who are parents of a transgender child. For those of you who are transgender, I would caution reading this, this book is about how the transgender person needs to have grace with others and give them time to comes to terms with who you are. I felt that so much of it was how Jeremy accepted his family rather than the other way around and that felt off to me. ⁠

You can get this book starting today at Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or look for it at your local library.