A brave transgender woman experiences both triumph and tragedy in this memoir of transitioning and so much more.
McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, was a high school political activist well before coming to terms with her gender identity, so this mix of policy discussion and personal revelation seems to come naturally to her. What she had never expected is that she would be a widow at 24 and, two years later, become the first transgender speaker at a national political convention. The author first came to national attention in college, when, as student body president of American University, she announced first through social media and then in the pages of the school newspaper that she was transgender. She had previously presented herself outwardly as male. She was scared of rejection or even ridicule from the campus culture, but she received “a total and overwhelming outpouring of love and joy.” However, McBride’s earlier experience coming out to her parents had been more traumatic. Even though they were progressive and supportive of her gay older brother, they had been blindsided by her declaration. “So you want to be a girl?” asked her tearful mother, who later said, “I feel like my life is over.” “I didn’t want to be a girl. I was a girl,” thought the author, who had felt like a girl in a boy’s body since she was 10 and who had since recognized that if this were in fact a choice, it was the only choice she could make. She became an activist and eloquent spokesperson for LGBTQ legislation, the first transgender intern to serve at the White House, and an inspirational speaker at the Democratic National Convention. She also fell deeply in love with another activist, who would soon succumb to cancer, but not before they had the chance to marry. Throughout, the author ably balances great accomplishments and strong emotions.
Reading McBride’s inspiring story will make it harder to ostracize or demonize others with similar stories to share.