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She Had Been A Tomboy. Raising A Transgender Child, A Mother's Journey
Synopsis Prologue (Authors Note): I reveal that my oldest child, GRANT, is transgender. Forward: I relate my desire to be a better mother than my own mother. The Story: Grant is born premature. PARKER is born full-term. Family life is happy. Grant’s style of play is “all boy.” He shows exceptional intelligence. It is difficult for peers to relate to him. Teachers struggle as to where to place him academically. Grant refuses to bond with his father ROBERT. He clings to me. His suffers anxiety and depression. I begin to neglect Parker. Grant doesn’t graduate high school on time. He spends six months in “treatment.” Grant goes to college. He becomes agoraphobic. He returns home for two years. We learn he is bipolar. Parker gets into his first choice college. Robert’s work puts him out of town often. Repeatedly I care for Grant on my own. I fake swallowing many pills and am rushed to the hospital. Grant sees a cognitive therapist. To a computer gaming company he suggests ways to improve their game. They implement all suggestions. Robert and I see a behaviorist and learn new ways to parent. In college Parker wins many academic awards. Grant tells Robert she is transgender. When I learn this I freeze up emotionally. Then I feel rage, then depression. “Gant” choses the name GRACE. Grace comes home for another year. In a writing class she encounters verbal abuse. Due to hurt over neglect Parker leaves graduate school. We send Grace away. She becomes homeless. She encounters physical abuse. I have a breakdown. I leave Robert. In six months I return home. Parker and Grace return to school. Parker, Robert, and I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Parker receives his PhD. Grace meets a woman. They become lovers. At thirty she receives her degree. She is recruited to work for the company to which she had made suggestions. She moves to California. Afterward: As a way to heal I must forgive those who have hurt Grace and caused me undo pain.
Debut author Bowman tackles gender identity and her child’s transgender experience in this brutally honest memoir. Born Grant, Bowman’s child experiences crippling depression, anxiety, and phobias until she transitions to Grace in her twenties. Bowman is unabashedly frank about the journey that led to her daughter’s transformation, and many parents of trans children will likely identify with the experience. Bowman’s main focus is on the time Grace struggled to become her true self. “He is my son,” she muses as the memoir begins, “This is as clear as day. And for still two decades moving forward she will remain hidden from me.”

This is as much Bowman’s story as it is her daughter’s. Bowman openly chronicles her own confused emotions and overwhelming love for a child she’s working to understand and parent responsibly. That struggle is reflected in her language, as she often uses “Grant” and “he,” rather than “Grace” and “she,” while trying to navigate unfamiliar topography. Bowman is also forthright about her relationship with her youngest, Parker, who understandably felt neglected during Grace’s journey. Her candid approach lays bare her family’s choices—and opens them to potential criticism, as when she and husband Robert follow the advice of their psychologist to enforce “tough love” by consigning Grace to the streets after several years of trying to motivate her to action, in an effort to teach her self-sufficiency.

Bowman is a talented writer, channeling her pain and confusion with compelling prose. She pulls no punches, longing to understand her child but untested in how to move forward—and Grace’s emotions during the process of reclaiming her true identity are heartbreaking for anyone to witness, especially parents. Bowman’s feelings of inadequacy will ring true for parents of children everywhere, and her experience will provide guideposts for other parents navigating similar roads.

Takeaway: An unfiltered memoir of a family’s transgender journey.

Great for fans of: Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt; She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A