In Her Skin: Growing Up Trans
Trina Sotira, author
On the outside, Tirzah has everything: a best friend who adores her and the potential of a full-ride soccer scholarship at her father’s alma mater, Illinois University. But to Tirzah, none of it matters since she's stuck in the body of a girl. Struggling to hide her feelings for her best friend, Heidi, and fighting to cover up female body parts, Tirzah realizes the only way she'll ever be happy is if she transitions. But the change could mean losing Heidi, her scholarship, and possibly her parents' acceptance. When Tirzah starts to live as Troy, Heidi's family forbids the friendship. That's when Heidi goes missing. Troy must find Heidi, and, ultimately, himself.
In Sotira’s story of a teenager coming out as transgender, high school senior Tirzah Maxon is happiest when living as Troy—something that only seems possible doing during anonymous trips to hang out with skateboarders in downtown Chicago. Additionally, Tirzah loves best friend Heidi in a more-than-friends kind of way, but it’s unclear whether Heidi feels the same, and Heidi’s conservative Muslim family wouldn’t condone such a relationship even if she did. As graduation looms and Tirzah pursues a soccer scholarship, the teenager bemoans having to play on the girls’ team, struggles in dealing with Heidi and other classmates, and gradually feels empowered to live full-time as Troy. Sotira (Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth Through Change) writes sensitively about Tirzah’s gender dysphoria; the teen’s tender friendship with Heidi and the realistically varied reactions to Tirzah’s transitioning are also handled well. Readers may wish for more resolution concerning Tirzah’s future with Heidi, who drops out of the story somewhat unceremoniously toward the end, but Sotira’s first novel remains a thoughtful portrait of one teenager’s incremental progress toward greater self-knowledge and acceptance. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)