Synopses & Reviews
When Cris Beam first moved to Los Angeles, she thought she might put in just a few hours volunteering at a school for transgender kids while she got settled. Instead she found herself drawn deeply into the pained and powerful group of transgirls she discovered.
In Transparent she introduces four of them Christina, Domineque, Foxxjazell, and Ariel and shows us their world, a dizzying mix of familiar teenage cliques and crushes with far less familiar challenges like how to morph your body on a few dollars a day. Funny, heartbreaking, defiant, and sometimes defeated, the girls form a singular community. But they struggle valiantly to resolve the gap between the way they feel inside and the way the world sees them a struggle we can all identify with.
Beam's careful reporting, sensitive writing, and intimate relationship with her characters place Transparent in the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction.
"In this gripping, illuminating and deeply moving portrait of transgender teens in Los Angeles, the smallest incidents reverberate sharply. Beam, volunteering at a support center for trans teens, helps a young woman named Christina make changes on her driver's license: her name from Eduardo and the gender from male to female. The DMV clerk adamantly refuses to make the adjustment and only acquiesces after the humiliated Christina has a meltdown and Beam, pretending to be an ACLU lawyer, demands a supervisor. Christina is one of several, mostly minority, male-to-female transgender women to whom Beam becomes attached. Their group interactions including fights, friendships and daily struggles to survive form the center of the book. Though these women's lives are difficult when Christina is beaten during an attempted rape, she has to lie to the police about being transgender there are also moments of quick wit. As Beam morphs from parent to therapist, chum, cheerleader and legal adviser, she seamlessly blends memoir, reportage and advocacy. The result is a vivid and fiercely empathetic narrative that juxtaposes dead-on portraits of these young women with clearly articulated fury at a culture that's not only fearful of anyone who deviates from traditional gender roles but treats minorities and the poor with contempt." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Beam knows how to tell a story. Her tone is evocative and warm without being cloying or judgmental. She delicately parses the story of her own troubled youth, not letting it become the center of attention. Her style grabs the reader at once." San Francisco Chronicle
"[C]ompelling reading that fills an important niche in gender studies." Booklist
A Los Angeles transgender school volunteer traces her work with four students whose otherwise typical teen experiences were uniquely shaped by their circumstances, in a personal account that describes their efforts to resolve identity challenges while making contributions to their community.
When Beam moved to Los Angeles, she was drawn deeply into the pained and powerful group of transgirls she discovered. This work shows readers their world--a dizzying mix of familiar teenage cliques and crushes with far less familiar challenges like how to morph one's body on a few dollars a day.
About the Author
Cris Beam is a journalist who has written for several national magazines as well as for public radio. She has an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at Columbia and the New School. She lives in New York.
Table of Contents
Eduardo/ Geri/ Christina
Boyfriends PART TWO