Being Emily: LGBT Book Review

imageHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be born into a body that did not match who you really were? Imagine the emotions, feelings, fears and internal struggle that would live with you throughout your existence.

Many people would argue that no one is happy with the body they were born with; that there is always an aspect of their body that they’re unhappy with. However, what if that little issue was your gender? Your biological sex determines several things in life; be that from your upbringing, to society’s expectations of you, and from restrictions of fashion style to controlled barriers of emotion.

However, your gender identity is who you feel inside. Do you feel like a boy or girl, a man or woman? Hard concept to grasp? For many it is, for others it is not. A huge number of people in this vast world live their lives, growing up feeling that their assigned gender at birth does match with what and whom they feel inside. They feel that they have been dealt a difficult hand from the very beginning…and forces beyond their control prevent them from allowing themselves to be their true selves.

I have always been in search for a book that portrayed Transgenderism for what it is. NOT a phase, NOT a choice, NOT a fashion statement and most certainly NOT an abnormal mental condition. As a lover of all things fiction, I searched for a novel that would show the reader that being transgender is not a choice. It is simply a necessary & inevitable way of life that allows the particular person to find out who they truly are, embrace themselves with love and most of all, plan their lives from this moment on; through the acceptance and kindness of others.

imageAfter a long search, I was recommended to read a book that was published in 2012 by the author Rachel Gold, called BEING EMILY. The novel is written in memoir format, as if they are looking back on the journey they have come so far. “Being Emily” follows the story of Chris, a 17 year old boy living in Minnesota, USA. To everyone, Chris is a happy guy. He swims for his local swimming team, has many friends, has a girlfriend who adores him and a close-knit family.

What more could he want? Well that’s the trouble. Chris,deep down, knows he is not Chris. Ever since he was a child, he dreamt of growing up and transforming into the girl he always knew he was. For he always felt that he was a female trapped within a male body, and the person screaming to get out…was EMILY.

As I read, from one chapter to another, I could not help but well-up at the developments. When Chris finally accepts that 17 years is enough of playing a role that was not meant for him, he eventually brings Emily to life, by revealing his feelings to others.

The book is fantastic and one of the best I have ever read, as it documents Emily’s transition perfectly. From the moment she tells her girlfriend Claire that she is transgender, to finding a therapist & support network of people like her to feel loved and accepted. From when she meets Natalie, a pre-op trans girl her own age that welcomes her into the world of being a woman, to the inevitable moment that has been building up from Chapter 1…the disclosure of Emily to her parents.

The novel is perfectly constructed to detail Emily’s transition from male to female, as the first half of the book shows us the internal struggle she has with herself and her fears of telling others she no longer wants to be son and boyfriend that people have come to know her as. However, it is the second half of this masterpiece that had the biggest effect on me. After revealing Emily from behind the mask of Chris, the book then follows the loving support of those few individuals around her, but also the discrimination, the prejudice and the hurt caused from those who refuse to accept.

With the strain that her announcement puts on her relationship with her family, it only highlights to the reader the importance of finding a safe network during transition. At the end of the book, we get to find out what eventually happened to Emily…did she become the girl she always dreamt of, does her parents come to accept her no longer as their son, but daughter, and most importantly what is the message for those who feel the same way?

In a time where being transgender is slowly getting accepted more by others, it is important to look back on how far we have come as a society. Every day we are introduced to someone who identifies as transgender, whether they are just coming out, in transition or those who have completed their transformation. This is what makes me love this world, as it would be very boring if we were all the exact same. It’s what makes the world colourful, bright and ever-changing.

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Many media sources claim that “being transgender” has become popular or fashionable within western society today and ‘that’ is why there is this peak in numbers, in recent years. My opinion on this is that “being transgender” is not what has become popular, whereas “being acceptable” and “being human” has.

With transgender icons and role models such as Laverne Cox, an award winning actress for her role as Sophia in Orange is the new Black, to the stunning actress Candis Cayne who graces the screen in both TV drama and reality, we get to see their true talents and qualities shine.

Also, an important thing I got from the novel was that there is always someone out there to talk to. With transgender youtube royalty such as GiGi Gorgeous and Maya (@Transmermaidx), there is no limit on the information and support you can get from these people, with just a simple click or tweet. Whether it’s an online friend who is in the same boat as you, or even a social media site that allows like-minded people to spread their love and guidance…talking to someone is the first step.

Only through the love, acceptance and support of today’s world, can these beautiful people be able to escape from the confines of their former cocoon and emerge as the wonderful butterfly they were always destined to be.

Being Emily by Rachel Gold, can be purchased in any bookstore worldwide. Hard copies as well as kindle editions of this book are also available via Amazon online.

Happy reading everyone…and remember…in the worlds of the famous Oscar Wilde…

“Be yourself…everyone else is already taken.”

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