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Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

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Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.


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Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself. By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

30 review for Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This book is a mandatory read for every human, doesn’t matter if you are somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, an ally or not. This book is about a trans person, yes, but it also about finding one’s true self and identity, while struggling with expectations and assumptions. It’s what we a go through at some point in our lives, but for trans people it is even worse, they struggle with who they, how they feel, what others might think and are up against extremely discriminating legislation. How can y This book is a mandatory read for every human, doesn’t matter if you are somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, an ally or not. This book is about a trans person, yes, but it also about finding one’s true self and identity, while struggling with expectations and assumptions. It’s what we a go through at some point in our lives, but for trans people it is even worse, they struggle with who they, how they feel, what others might think and are up against extremely discriminating legislation. How can you become your true self and stay happy, with a support system like Jeremy’s. He is extremely lucky and his parents and siblings have shown to be true advocates and are more supportive and understanding than anyone can ask for. Penned by his mother this book tells Jeremy’s story from several viewpoints. His mother, Jo, interview/ had storytelling time with all his siblings and his father. As well as asking herself tough questions and be brutally honest in answering them. Jo captures a story of struggle, coming of age and love. They all have questions and doubts at some point, but don’t we all about everything? It feels like the memoir is written with extreme care, taking time to show true emotions, true feelings and letting no one feel bad about it. I think jo has been especially considerate when it comes to all the trans parts with Jeremy. The openging chapter actually already reveals that much.not everyone’s story is the same, but everyone can be inspired by this one. Also I find it disturbing to read about the different legislation in each state, the US can be a real messed up place... you can be a person and accepted (on paper) in one state, but in the next you can’t be who you are. I am glad to live in a country where this isn’t happening. Make this heartfelt memoir a mandatory read in schools and I think the world might just become a little better, at least I hope so. Thanks for writing this inspiring book! *ARC received in exchange for an honest review*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stacy Fetters

    "Something is different. I don’t want to hide anymore, even though I’m scared to say even to myself that I’m trans. I’m frozen, unable to make a decision. The thought of change is terrifying. Can I do it? Will I disappoint everyone if I do? Oh, God." Biographies (memoirs) are one of my favorite kinds of books to read but I don’t read many. It’s hard to put a rating and a review on someone else’s life. They’ve experienced these things and we’re just reading what’s on the paper. I haven’t read many "Something is different. I don’t want to hide anymore, even though I’m scared to say even to myself that I’m trans. I’m frozen, unable to make a decision. The thought of change is terrifying. Can I do it? Will I disappoint everyone if I do? Oh, God." Biographies (memoirs) are one of my favorite kinds of books to read but I don’t read many. It’s hard to put a rating and a review on someone else’s life. They’ve experienced these things and we’re just reading what’s on the paper. I haven’t read many books about the LGBTQIAP+ community but It’s time that I do, educate myself more, and this is where we should all start. This book takes us through the journey of not only Jeremy but of his closest family members as he discovers who he is. It’s told through many POV’s but it’s mostly of his Mom listening to her son, educating herself, and being an advocate for the transgender community. Not everyone’s family is supportive and willing to educate themselves. I’m glad that Jeremy had a great support system, not only at home with family but with friends as he transitioned into being his true self. Once a girl, Always a Boy is a heartfelt and important memoir. It’s an eye-opening memoir that should be read by everyone. Jeremy is brave for telling his story because not all of it was positive and it’s hard to find the right words in letting others know what you’re thinking/feeling. There is a lot of hate in this world and it needs to end. We should be supportive of one another. If you need to talk to someone, I’ve posted the phone number below. Trans Lifeline: (Information shared from their website) A 24/7 hotline available in the U.S. and Canada staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline is primarily for transgender people in a crisis, from struggling with gender identity to thoughts of self-harm. The number is: 1-877-565-8860

  3. 5 out of 5

    Casey the Reader

    Thanks to Booksparks for the free advance copy of this book. Jeremy was assigned female at birth. His parents thought he was a tomboy because he showed no interest in "girly" childhood things. But as he grew older and withdrew from social relationships where he was expected to act like a girl, they began to suspect something larger was at play. ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY is a "family memoir" - the book not only features transcripts of Jeremy's video diaries but first person writing from his paren Thanks to Booksparks for the free advance copy of this book. Jeremy was assigned female at birth. His parents thought he was a tomboy because he showed no interest in "girly" childhood things. But as he grew older and withdrew from social relationships where he was expected to act like a girl, they began to suspect something larger was at play. ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY is a "family memoir" - the book not only features transcripts of Jeremy's video diaries but first person writing from his parents and siblings, recalling their thoughts and experiences as Jeremy came to realize he was transgender and sought transition. I'll be completely honest. At first, I was a bit annoyed at this book for centering the feelings of all the straight cis people in Jeremy's life. I usually take the stance of "too bad if it makes you feel uncomfortable, that's not really my problem" when it comes to straight people understanding and accepting queer lives. But as I worked through the book, I realized most of why I felt that way is because this book isn't for me. It's for all the parents of trans kids who are having a hard time understanding their kids; parents who aren't well versed in gender theory and don't know where to start. And I do think that is important. It's important for family of trans folks to have a guide who isn't their kid so the burden of teaching isn't on the marginalized person. I do want to flag this, though. If you are a trans person, particularly one who has struggled with body dysphoria and social/family acceptance, take special care with this book. While Jeremy's family did come around, they had a hard time grasping the situation at first and cycled through a lot of transphobic thoughts and feelings, even when outwardly supporting their child. This is not to say the book itself takes a transphobic stance, just that in the process of debunking these ideas, they are stated pretty plainly in the writings of his parents.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This book deserves every one of the 5-stars I have given it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a well-written, enlightening, open and honest family memoir that helps readers understand gender identity and the issues surrounding it. I applaud and admire Jeremy for being willing to share his entire story with us (complete with pictures!), beginning in young childhood through and beyond his transition. The reader is able to hear his voice at each stage of his journey and that is so brave and so engaging This book deserves every one of the 5-stars I have given it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a well-written, enlightening, open and honest family memoir that helps readers understand gender identity and the issues surrounding it. I applaud and admire Jeremy for being willing to share his entire story with us (complete with pictures!), beginning in young childhood through and beyond his transition. The reader is able to hear his voice at each stage of his journey and that is so brave and so engaging! To be privy to his thoughts as he questions and struggles with his identity and deals with the huge impacts, repercussions and changes is nothing short of a true gift. I love that the reader hears from each family member as well. This book is filled with so many emotions and the author (Jeremy's mother) is skilled at taking the reader through all of them. This book will go a long way in helping people truly relate to and understand the LGBT (I know there are more initials but don't want to get them wrong!) community. Inspiring and heart-warming, a call to action, there is just so much about this book to admire and love! My thanks to NetGalley and She Writes Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly B

    A must read! An inspiring, honest, positive story about a family learning and growing together as their transgender son discovers and accepts his true self. Moving and insightful to read the family's struggle with understanding their son's feelings and choices but heartwarming to see their unconditional acceptance. The Ivester family allows readers to see their struggles, challenges, and ultimate unconditional love for one another. I pray all LGBTQIA+ persons have he same love and support as Jer A must read! An inspiring, honest, positive story about a family learning and growing together as their transgender son discovers and accepts his true self. Moving and insightful to read the family's struggle with understanding their son's feelings and choices but heartwarming to see their unconditional acceptance. The Ivester family allows readers to see their struggles, challenges, and ultimate unconditional love for one another. I pray all LGBTQIA+ persons have he same love and support as Jeremy does.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anya

    This book is incredibly important and poignant. I appreciated the different perspectives from each family member, and it was carefully and heartwarmingly crafted. There is something so genuinely special in reading about the love Jo and her family have for Jeremy, and their unwavering support throughout his transition.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Fleischer

    I received this books from Booksparks as part of their pop up tour. I absolutely loved this book. I felt that Jo Ivester did an amazing job at providing an inside look how her son and family processed and understood his transition to Jeremy. Longer review to come soon!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca D’Harlingue

    Knowing that Jo Ivester wrote this memoir about her son Jeremy, who is a trans man, as the focus, I expected it to be mostly from her perspective. However, Ivester included so much more, especially from the point of view of Jeremy. This book informs so well, and from an honest and loving perspective. We learn of Jeremy's journey, and I think that what most struck me was coming to understand how transitioning can be such a long process, one with so many decisions to be made, each one bringing on Knowing that Jo Ivester wrote this memoir about her son Jeremy, who is a trans man, as the focus, I expected it to be mostly from her perspective. However, Ivester included so much more, especially from the point of view of Jeremy. This book informs so well, and from an honest and loving perspective. We learn of Jeremy's journey, and I think that what most struck me was coming to understand how transitioning can be such a long process, one with so many decisions to be made, each one bringing on huge change, each one requiring tremendous courage. This is a book that makes a difference.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    One of the best written transgender memoirs I've read recently. It is told from multiple viewpoints including: Jeremy, his mother Jo, his dad Jon, and Jeremy's siblings. I know it's hard for people to talk about such private issues such as gender, but it's so important for the world to see that these are just regular people trying to be themselves just as we all are. Thank you for sharing your family.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Once a Girl, Always A Boy by Jo Ivestor is a wonderful memoir. In fact, this is the kind of memoir that keeps me reading them. There are transgender people in my life, and I suspect that most people know someone - even if they aren't aware of it. This memoir is personal and challenging and I would recommend that everyone read it. What's unique about this book is the way that the family is represented through a variety of POVs. The most present voices are that of Jo Ivester (author and Mom) and Je Once a Girl, Always A Boy by Jo Ivestor is a wonderful memoir. In fact, this is the kind of memoir that keeps me reading them. There are transgender people in my life, and I suspect that most people know someone - even if they aren't aware of it. This memoir is personal and challenging and I would recommend that everyone read it. What's unique about this book is the way that the family is represented through a variety of POVs. The most present voices are that of Jo Ivester (author and Mom) and Jeremy Ivester. Jeremy's siblings and his father have also contributed to this memoir and there's such a strong sense of family and love throughout the book. It's so valuable to have a book that gives a perspective on what a family member transitioning means to everyone involved. Unquestionably this book is about Jeremy and all the things that he went through as he worked through discovering who he was and how he wanted to be for the rest of his life. But, it's also about Jeremy's family and how they supported him, were confused by his thoughts and feelings, and the effect of transition on them. I haven't read anything previously that explores the impact of gender so well and in such an intimate way. I think that one of the most important things that I take away from this book is all the things I didn't think about. There are so many times during a life, during a year, during a day... that a person's gender comes up. There were things I hadn't even thought of that can really be such a shock to someone's system: growing and changing bodies, sports bras, sleepovers, shopping for school clothes, playing sports, hair cuts, weddings ... all these things happen constantly and are an ever-present reminder of gender. The systems that we interact with almost daily often begin with gender... there were things that I hadn't even thought of. When you apply for a job you have to show ID, what if that ID doesn't have the same gender as the one you present? Passports? Educational institutions? Doctors? Prescriptions? Appointments? Some of these systems are difficult to navigate without the added emotion and stress of having ID that doesn't state the correct gender? Maybe it was naive but I didn't even think about how difficult some of these everyday things (to me) could be for other people. That's because as a cisgender woman, I've never had to think about it. This book touches on so many things: intergenerational understandings of masculinity and femininity, being left out, being bullied, hiding pain and emotions to fit in, politics... life. There are so many milestones passed in this book and I feel honored to have been allowed to read about this family.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Beautiful clear story. Not especially literary writing. inspiring nonetheless.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Shepherd

    I rarely read memoirs but this grabbed my attention and I wasn't disappointed. The story of Jeremy Ivester who was born a girl and all the struggles he encountered on his journey to become Jeremy. Written with chapters and viewpoints of members of his family, friends and colleagues. A touching book and well written with family photos relevant to the book added a nice touch.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roger Hyttinen

    I don't read biographies all that often, but this one caught my eye, and I'm so glad that I read it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy follows Jeremy Ivester, a trans man who was born as Emily. We follow his journey as he struggles with his identity, knowing all along that something is not quite right with the way he perceives himself. What's compelling about this book, however, is that it's written by his mother, and the author represents the entire family via multiple points of view. In this way, it's I don't read biographies all that often, but this one caught my eye, and I'm so glad that I read it. Once a Girl, Always a Boy follows Jeremy Ivester, a trans man who was born as Emily. We follow his journey as he struggles with his identity, knowing all along that something is not quite right with the way he perceives himself. What's compelling about this book, however, is that it's written by his mother, and the author represents the entire family via multiple points of view. In this way, it's not just Jeremy's journey we're reading about but that of his entire family. There is such a strong sense of love and family throughout the book which rendered it all the more endearing. The story is told in short, vignettes of Jeremy's life presented chronologically by him and his loving family. We follow along with Jeremey at each stage of his journey, and I loved being privy to his thoughts, feelings, and questions as he struggled to discover his identity and deal with the enormous repercussions of all of his decisions. Additionally, the everyday gender issues that Jeremy had to deal with were quite eye-opening, things such as sleepovers with his friends, shopping for clothes, getting hair cuts, standing up at weddings, puberty, presenting your ID when asked, prescriptions, passports, which bathroom to use, discrimination and prejudice by others, getting a job, and hateful legislation aimed at trans people. My heart went out to Jeremy as he tried to figure out how he fits into his world, and I applaud his bravery and tenacity as he made many tough decisions, remaining true to his heart in the process. As a reader, I loved that Jeremy and his mom shared his entire story with us, beginning from around the age of six or so through his adulthood in his 20s. I loved hearing his voice and being privy to his thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams every step along the way. What was also interesting was his family's own journey, as they tried to understand and support him and work through their confusion about what their son was going through. This book is ultimately about the power of saying – and living – your truth, without fear. It's not just a story about being trans, but it's also about discovering one's true self in the face of the expectations of society and family. It's a powerful and compelling story that needed to be told and needs to be read and talked about. This was a surprising read that took me places I very much didn't expect. It's the kind of book that makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives, and I don't think I've ever read such an intimate and moving portrayal of gender issues like this before. It actually moved me to tears in several places. Once a Girl, Always a Boy succeeds in doing what you hope every book will do - it pulls you in from the first page, holds you captive in the middle, then leave you satisfied and thoughtful — and perhaps a bit wiser — at the end. What I especially found riveting about Jeremy's story is how he was able to discover his true self and move to his place in his life where he was happy, all with his family's love and support. It was evident how having a loving and supportive family like Jeremy's made all the difference in his life, and it hurts my heart to realize that not all trans people are so fortunate. Ultimately, I feel that Jeremy's story should be a welcome addition to everyone's bookshelves, regardless of whether you fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ Spectrum or not. This is a lovely story about a family accepting their son's transition and illustrates perfectly how we should all be supporting our children and loved ones. At the end of the day, it's a story of being human. It's about unconditionally loving our kids, regardless of how challenging and painful that move toward acceptance can be. I always find it difficult to rate biographies because, after all, what we have is a true story/snippet of someone's life. But I don't hesitate in the least to rate this one five solid stars out of five.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Hubbard

    I received a copy of Once A Girl, Always A Boy book from Readers' Favorite in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.  I can't speak from someone with gender or body dysphoria and I don't want to assume, but if you are trans and struggle with these things, then a trigger warning is perhaps needed.  Jeremy was assigned female at birth and was known as Emily for a majority of his life (at the time of publication). He and his family referred to himself as a tomboy in childh I received a copy of Once A Girl, Always A Boy book from Readers' Favorite in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.  I can't speak from someone with gender or body dysphoria and I don't want to assume, but if you are trans and struggle with these things, then a trigger warning is perhaps needed.  Jeremy was assigned female at birth and was known as Emily for a majority of his life (at the time of publication). He and his family referred to himself as a tomboy in childhood and early adulthood as he had no interest in "girly" things, only wanted to wear boys' clothing, was excellent at sports (often better than the boys), and more. The book is written from very different viewpoints.  Jo (Jeremy's mother), Jon (Jeremy's father), Ben & Sammy (Jeremy's brothers), and Jeremy himself (utilizing video diaries Jeremy created during his transition). I was really concerned about this book at first. I didn't understand why it was written by the mother and not Jeremy. Upon immediate reaction, I felt like she was trying to ride on his story. Also, without researching their story ahead of time, I worried that Jeremy was no longer alive and that's why it was written by her.  However, I gave the book a chance despite these concerns. And, I realized, for the most part, I was wrong. While the book is clearly about the entire family, they still do Jeremy justice in the book.  While I'm typically of the "too bad if it makes you uncomfortable" variety and couldn't care less if family and friends are put in a "weird" position, I also really appreciated the family's willingness to be honest about their feelings. I don't have any immediate and close ties to a trans person, but I still felt very invested in this story. Some may say that this book is for the parents of trans kids or anyone confused by the concept.  However, I didn't realize see this as "how-to" book so if you're reading this for advice and guidance, I'm not sure it will give practical, tangible advice. It will, however, possibly give inspiration. Jeremy's family ends up being extremely supportive, but they definitely had their bouts of not grasping the situation or Jeremy's feelings. While the book was written by the mother, supposedly Jeremy had final okay over what was included in the book. Assuming that's true, it is my belief that Jeremy always had a pretty good relationship with his family despite the hiccups along the way. He even mentions how lucky he is both for the support system and the financial support something many trans people do not have.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book. I'm always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people because I worry it'll make me overly emotional. While overly emotional isn't a bad thing, sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated. I went into this one expecting that but what I didn't expect was to learn. As someone who is transgender, it was nice to watch Jeremy's family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrat Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book. I'm always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people because I worry it'll make me overly emotional. While overly emotional isn't a bad thing, sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated. I went into this one expecting that but what I didn't expect was to learn. As someone who is transgender, it was nice to watch Jeremy's family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrated by my family not understanding my gender or sexual identity and seeing all of Jeremy's family react and learn gave me a new perspective. It taught me to give people some time to learn, especially the people who I know are trying and to listen to why they're struggling with things related to my gender and sexuality. It was also really nice to watch Jeremy learn about himself and come to terms with each of his identities. I was able to relate to so many moments that are included in this book and loved how much of his feelings are included. It was refreshing to see how his understanding of his identity was constantly shifting and how he slowly leaned into who he is. I loved that this story was centered on Jeremy's adult years and how so many of his coming to terms with who he is and learning about himself happens in his late 20s. It made my journey as a non-binary transgender person feel normal and let me know that it was okay to not have the answers at my age. This was a great book to be able to read during this stay at home order because it made me feel understood. This book uplifted me in moments that I was struggling with because living at home with a family who uses my legal name and misgenders me without having an escape from it gets rough. This book was a constant reminder that I decide my identity and even when others don't see me that way my identity remains the same. I really enjoyed how this book was written in multiple perspectives and you got sections from Jeremy, the mom, dad, and the siblings. It was great to see so many of the same scenes through different eyes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Marie

    • BOOK REVIEW • Book #55 of 2020 • Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester • Finished 06/22/20 I'm going to be very upfront • I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book A family memoir, Jeremy Ivester's story is told from the perspectives of alternating family members but all written by his mother • Jo Ivester uses interviews with the family along with information collected from Jeremy's journals to put together a timeline spanning Jeremy's birth to his young adult years • After a childhood of • BOOK REVIEW • Book #55 of 2020 • Once a Girl, Always a Boy by Jo Ivester • Finished 06/22/20 I'm going to be very upfront • I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book A family memoir, Jeremy Ivester's story is told from the perspectives of alternating family members but all written by his mother • Jo Ivester uses interviews with the family along with information collected from Jeremy's journals to put together a timeline spanning Jeremy's birth to his young adult years • After a childhood of being told and taught he was simply a tomboy, the book is meant to center around his realization that he was transgender, his path to seeking transition and his family's journey alongside him At the start of the book, Jo Ivester explains she chooses to use Jeremy's dead name when writing about Jeremy's early years to help the reader differentiate • I struggled with this choice because it felt as if we were meant to see Jeremy as two separate people rather than accepting he was Jeremy wholly, in any physical form • Because the memoir is solely written by his mother, it feels very heavily skewed toward how she interpreted what family members shared and moreso how she was affected • Due to the family memoir style, the writing and timeline feels disjointed at times • It made it hard for me to truly connect as I had to do quite a bit of backtracking as I read I feel this could be a good book for parents who are not well versed in gender identity and spectrum that want to better support their child • While some parts are hard to read because they come across insensitive, it does take you through their journey as parents to better understand, support and honestly accept Jeremy for he truly is • I do appreciate their willingness to be vulnerable by sharing some of the mistakes they made but be aware as a reader that those parts could also be triggering and/or damaging for trans individuals or anyone working through gender issues

  17. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rogers

    Once a girl, always a boy is a family memoir. It is written mostly from the perspective of Jeremy's mom with small sections written by Jeremy's siblings and other sections derived from videos he made throughout his journey. For myself, also the mother of a trans son, some of this memoir was familiar to my experience and some was not. There were parts which I read through very quickly and others which were not as gripping. I think this story would be good for readers that are curious about transg Once a girl, always a boy is a family memoir. It is written mostly from the perspective of Jeremy's mom with small sections written by Jeremy's siblings and other sections derived from videos he made throughout his journey. For myself, also the mother of a trans son, some of this memoir was familiar to my experience and some was not. There were parts which I read through very quickly and others which were not as gripping. I think this story would be good for readers that are curious about transgender people but not very familiar with coming out stories. Maybe parents and family of folks trying to figure out their gender identity or who have recently come out as trans. I appreciated that Jo took the time to unpack her own experiences as a child that identified as a tomboy, and how that differed from her son being transgender. They also didn't shy away from discussing some more complex and sensitive topics such as phalloplasty, but also are obviously respecting Jeremy's privacy. I will say that readers should go in understanding that this is a family that is financially privileged, and the author does acknowledge that in a limited way. These are not people that have ever had to deal with not being able to afford health care or travel or housing. Jeremy had parents that supported him fully even when they didn't fully understand gender identity issues. Another potential issue is that Jo is a white woman that references growing up in the Mississippi Delta while her father was a doctor in the poor black community. She has written a previous memoir about this time of her life and discusses that she has been able to use this experience to educate other white people who are unfamiliar with racial struggles. I have not read that book and do not fully know how she handles this topic. It is possible that American Black readers may find her to be off putting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    I have to say that I felt like transgender memoirs were beginning to echo what seemed such similar stories. Most were written from the first-person POV. Recently however, one, Love Lives Here, looked into the perspective of the family of a transgender child with a transgender parent. It was written by the cisgender spouse. That book moved me. This book, written by a mother of a transgender son, was as different and a valuable POV as the aforementioned Love Lives Here. I'm a transgender woman fro I have to say that I felt like transgender memoirs were beginning to echo what seemed such similar stories. Most were written from the first-person POV. Recently however, one, Love Lives Here, looked into the perspective of the family of a transgender child with a transgender parent. It was written by the cisgender spouse. That book moved me. This book, written by a mother of a transgender son, was as different and a valuable POV as the aforementioned Love Lives Here. I'm a transgender woman from a generation that denied my existence and outlawed my existence. I lost everything when I finally came out; love, home, security, savings and employment. My life was scarred by epithets from loved ones and silence when support was needed. My story isn't unique, certainly not for my generation. Now, we hear primarily from a mother who went through the emergence of her son as he struggled to come to grips with his gender identity and then move cautiously through transition as a young adult. Her son’s voice is evident throughout as he moves from a young school-age girl to an early adult man. I know how difficult that transition is firsthand. Here, we get a view of how parenting eases the child through what is a life or death struggle with their identity. Recent politics further endanger the lives of trans folks and we also get insight into how hate has moved into our government again. This was a good read, a necessary read no matter where you sit in terms of gender, faith, or role.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate Douglas

    I just finished reading ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY, and it’s an absolutely riveting tale. I purchased the book because I was looking for something current about being transgender--I'm an author of a long running series and have wanted to include a transgender character in a story. It's an idea that's been percolating for ages, but when I saw this book, it sounded like something that would help me create a fully formed character. It's done so much more. I just finished reading it, and my first tho I just finished reading ONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY, and it’s an absolutely riveting tale. I purchased the book because I was looking for something current about being transgender--I'm an author of a long running series and have wanted to include a transgender character in a story. It's an idea that's been percolating for ages, but when I saw this book, it sounded like something that would help me create a fully formed character. It's done so much more. I just finished reading it, and my first thought was how lucky Jeremy was to be born into a family so able to love and accept. Too often that's not the case for LGBTQA people. Jo Ivester has done a beautiful job detailing her son’s journey from life as Emily, a serious tomboy, to Jeremy, the young man, with portions written by Jeremy’s father and his siblings, as well as Jeremy. Jeremy’s chapters, beginning with his feelings about always wanting to be a boy even from the time he was very young, through puberty and into young adulthood, give the reader a very personal window into the internal dialog that was so much a part of Jeremy’s decisions. It’s an emotional read, and definitely a “feel good” story of not only Jeremy’s growth as he transitions, but his family’s as well. I definitely recommend this book. It’s beautifully done and I had a hard time putting it down.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    This was an interesting concept for a book, a family memoir of one person's coming out journey. But given that it was described as such, I wish there had been more family involvement within the narrative itself. Most of the book is Jeremy's to tell, and of course that is fitting, as this is Jeremy's story above all. And his journey is an important one to be made public because of his uncertainty, his slow becoming, and I so appreciate his story being told. I just wish I had heard more from his s This was an interesting concept for a book, a family memoir of one person's coming out journey. But given that it was described as such, I wish there had been more family involvement within the narrative itself. Most of the book is Jeremy's to tell, and of course that is fitting, as this is Jeremy's story above all. And his journey is an important one to be made public because of his uncertainty, his slow becoming, and I so appreciate his story being told. I just wish I had heard more from his siblings, or his parents. Jo, as the author, does have several long sections and is articulate about her own perceptions and biases and feelings throughout the process, but the siblings not so much. That is not something I would ask of a trans memoir, but that's not what this was slated as. Setting that aside, I did enjoy reading the book. A lot of it is based off of video logs that Jeremy kept, and the active voice is engaging and raw. And the family is doing good work for the queer community, which they highlight without sounding like they're pitching themselves. There is definite privilege here, that isn't entirely addressed, keeping the focus on Jeremy and his journey. I imagine that this will land particularly well with non-queer readers as well, as being validating of their feelings and concerns while being informative and making the issue personal.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bekah B

    What I found incredibly interesting about Once a Girl, Always a Boy is that it shows us the journey that the whole family took rather than just the person going through their own transgender journey. The inclusion of the family perspectives and their honesty over their feelings and thoughts was in my opinion absolutely needed, and would be especially helpful for other parents or siblings who's relatives have gender dysphoria. I don't personally know any transgender people and so some of the info What I found incredibly interesting about Once a Girl, Always a Boy is that it shows us the journey that the whole family took rather than just the person going through their own transgender journey. The inclusion of the family perspectives and their honesty over their feelings and thoughts was in my opinion absolutely needed, and would be especially helpful for other parents or siblings who's relatives have gender dysphoria. I don't personally know any transgender people and so some of the information in the book was completely new to me and to be honest, some of it came as a complete shock. I was already aware of the more medical side of things such as the breast removal, hormone replacement etc but the political bills and laws that allow discrimination against transgender people were not only eye opening but frankly sickening. I feel like the book did a great job showing the reader how gender isn't just black and white, and transgender people don't just decide immediately that they are the opposite gender, but that there are a lot of grey in between areas and the progress to gender identity can be very complex and long. I think Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a fantastic book that helps to raise awareness of the difficulties transgender people face, not only during their gender identity process but lifelong. Jeremy and his parents are fighting for transgender rights and have become well known on the political and human rights scene in Texas. And I also think it would be a brilliant resource for families to read that would help them to see that other families share their worries and thoughts. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mái Medina

    My Rating: 5 Stars WOW! I'm so happy I was given an advanced copy of this book. The Journey of Jeremy Ivester told not from his own perspective but also from his mum Jo (who is the main writer of this books) with also, a few entries from his dad Jon. Once a Girl, Always a Boy gives us a small glimpse inside the journey of a transgender man from his early childhood as Emily, through difficult adolescence years full of doubts and insecurities about who he was, all the way to his late twenties when My Rating: 5 Stars WOW! I'm so happy I was given an advanced copy of this book. The Journey of Jeremy Ivester told not from his own perspective but also from his mum Jo (who is the main writer of this books) with also, a few entries from his dad Jon. Once a Girl, Always a Boy gives us a small glimpse inside the journey of a transgender man from his early childhood as Emily, through difficult adolescence years full of doubts and insecurities about who he was, all the way to his late twenties when he is finally comfortable in his own skin and happy of being Jeremy Ivester. I'm not a mum (yet), but every parent out there should read this memoir as anyone could be born with a genetic mix that does not necessarily match to what that person identifies himself/herself/themself with (I know, I know.. it's a bit hard with all the pronouns, but we just have to get used to it) There is still a lot to be done in our society to make it an inclusive environment for everyone within the LGTBQI+ spectrum and raising awareness for this book could be one little act towards that perfect world. Thanks to She Writes Press and Netgalley for the advanced copy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy Dufera

    Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a marvelous family memoir of a transgender journey, written by Jo Ivester. This story is an important one. Honest and heart-felt, this look back at Jeremy's journey, told by many standpoints, is wonderfully done. The reader follows Jeremy from his childhood to his 20's. Jeremy was a tomboy for sure, but it was always more than that. Personally, I love the way his mother related to Jeremy's young years. Of course, this understanding leads to confusion later as Jeremy Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a marvelous family memoir of a transgender journey, written by Jo Ivester. This story is an important one. Honest and heart-felt, this look back at Jeremy's journey, told by many standpoints, is wonderfully done. The reader follows Jeremy from his childhood to his 20's. Jeremy was a tomboy for sure, but it was always more than that. Personally, I love the way his mother related to Jeremy's young years. Of course, this understanding leads to confusion later as Jeremy struggles to understand and explain his true feelings. And, damn, learning more about the journey of Jo herself, is amazing. The author includes an informative look into the emotions, as well as work and legal struggles involved with changing one's gender legally. It's enlightening, not only for the way Jeremy's plights are explored, but also for the way his parents and siblings each explain their feelings. I love, love, love this book and hope everyone has a chance to read it. And yes, tears were shed. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a book everyone should read. Too many people struggle with understanding why people transition, and this memoir will definitely help people to gain a better understanding. And of course, understanding leads to changing attitudes. I am a firm believer that stories have the power to create change, and this is one such story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    James

    A unique transgender narrative, told by the young man's (Jeremy) mother. The book features sections from Jeremy, his parents, and his siblings to paint a well-rounded portrait of a what life can be like growing up gender-nonconforming before coming out as transgender and transitioning. It does a good job telling an alternative story about identity that is much less cookie cutter than the narrative cisgender people have latched on to. This will also be a good read for people who are/are interested A unique transgender narrative, told by the young man's (Jeremy) mother. The book features sections from Jeremy, his parents, and his siblings to paint a well-rounded portrait of a what life can be like growing up gender-nonconforming before coming out as transgender and transitioning. It does a good job telling an alternative story about identity that is much less cookie cutter than the narrative cisgender people have latched on to. This will also be a good read for people who are/are interested in asexuality/aromantic orientations, which are pretty rarely written about. The family is very privileged, so that can be off-putting and harder for many transgender people to relate to. They are incredibly support which can also be harder to relate to. The last chapter ends in 2019, so it isn't told very retrospectively; uses current language, touches on important current events/politics. A lot of it takes place in Texas and Colorado. Overall, it's an easy read that should be especially helpful to middle aged mothers of transgender youth. Great for a public library collection. Not as literary, but would pair well with Love Lives Here (Knox).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Florence Kraut

    "Once a Girl, Always a Boy" is a beautiful family memoir which will take you on a life changing odyssey, as Emily, the little girl who always preferred boy clothes and toys, becomes Jeremy in his mid-twenties. His family's acceptance of the way he claimed his masculine identity, is a lesson in the power of love and understanding. Jeremy's honest explorations of the feelings he had at each of the stages of his transformation, are moving and informative. The memoir is told in the voices of each o "Once a Girl, Always a Boy" is a beautiful family memoir which will take you on a life changing odyssey, as Emily, the little girl who always preferred boy clothes and toys, becomes Jeremy in his mid-twenties. His family's acceptance of the way he claimed his masculine identity, is a lesson in the power of love and understanding. Jeremy's honest explorations of the feelings he had at each of the stages of his transformation, are moving and informative. The memoir is told in the voices of each of the family members...of Jo (Mom), of Jon (Dad), of Emily until age 23 and Jeremy thereafter as they go through the experiences of self discovery that led Jeremy to courageously come out as his authentic self. Over time Jo, Jon and Jeremy become outspoken advocates for the transgender community fighting against transgender discrimination bills and acceptance of the LGBTQ community. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. If all families could accept and honor their children for the people they are, the way the Investor family has embraced Jeremy, the world would be a better place.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lecy Beth

    This is a memoir of a family learning and loving a transgender man as he goes from the female gender he was assigned at birth through his transition journey. It is primarily told from the perspective of his mother, but quite a bit of the book shares words from Jeremy himself, as well as his father, Jon. I loved the idea behind this book. I think it would be incredibly helpful for any family who has someone on this path to becoming who they truly are. The one downside that made it difficult for m This is a memoir of a family learning and loving a transgender man as he goes from the female gender he was assigned at birth through his transition journey. It is primarily told from the perspective of his mother, but quite a bit of the book shares words from Jeremy himself, as well as his father, Jon. I loved the idea behind this book. I think it would be incredibly helpful for any family who has someone on this path to becoming who they truly are. The one downside that made it difficult for me when reading was how Jo refers to her child through the course of the book. She specifically addresses this in the preface and talks about her struggle to decide what was the right thing to do. It is decided that she will refer to Jeremy as Emily, his given birth name, and use the "she" pronoun until he actually makes the transition. I understand the logic behind this, but it created discontinuity and made it hard to bounce from one to the other. *Advance copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    In Jeremy’s childhood, before he made the choice to transition and was still going by his given name at birth, Emily, the book starts with people identifying him as female but just a “tomboy.” From there, we read about every major and minor milestone in his life as he comes to terms with who he feels he has always been in his core and his process of telling the ones around him and transitioning. It’s told through Jeremy’s perspective as well as through various members of his family (largely his In Jeremy’s childhood, before he made the choice to transition and was still going by his given name at birth, Emily, the book starts with people identifying him as female but just a “tomboy.” From there, we read about every major and minor milestone in his life as he comes to terms with who he feels he has always been in his core and his process of telling the ones around him and transitioning. It’s told through Jeremy’s perspective as well as through various members of his family (largely his mother). - This book feels brave. This book feels honest. There are parts from the family that were hard to read, as someone who was able to also read Jeremy’s perspective all along. However, I think the honesty that the family writes with is really important in capturing the true story of what this journey looked like for all of them. It’s emotional, courageous, heartbreaking, and triumphant all at once. - This book is beautiful and important, and one that I’d absolutely recommend, especially if you’re a fan of memoirs.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chitraksh Ashray

    Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a family memoir of a trans man written by his mom. The memoir consists of small, digestible chunks of narration by Jeremy (whose story the book is based on), his mom, his dad, and his other family members. The narrations are like diary entries. The timeline of the memoir is from Jeremy's birth to the year 2019 when he as well as his parents are active advocates of the transgender community, engaged in creating equal opportunity for trans people and raising their voic Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a family memoir of a trans man written by his mom. The memoir consists of small, digestible chunks of narration by Jeremy (whose story the book is based on), his mom, his dad, and his other family members. The narrations are like diary entries. The timeline of the memoir is from Jeremy's birth to the year 2019 when he as well as his parents are active advocates of the transgender community, engaged in creating equal opportunity for trans people and raising their voice against transphobic laws. As mentioned in the preface, Jeremy is referred by his birth name in the memoir up to the point when he comes out and asks everyone to call him by his new name and pronouns. I personally don't like this approach where a trans person is referred to by their dead name even when talking about their past but as long as the person concerned is fine with it, then it's all cool. And in this case, I think in a way it is helpful for people who are not much aware of trans people to understand the experiences of a trans person and not just blatantly disregard trans stories. However, readers need to keep in mind that not all trans stories are alike. Trans people can figure out their gender identity and choose to come out at any age. Some are clear about it from childhood, while some others figure it out much later in life. Experiences differ. The transition process differs. Even feelings of dysphoria might differ from one person to another.  The smooth chronological flow of the story makes it a must-read for everyone especially parents and family members of trans kids. It's comforting to see a family talking about their journey of acceptance. The stories of acceptance are always so warm. Here we even get to see the parents' perspectives and emotions shift as they slowly try to understand and accept their transgender son.  Thanks to NetGalley for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natasha | readalongwithnat

    I received a free copy from Netgalley, She Writes Press, and BookSparks in exchange for my honest review. CW: sexual assault This is an important book, perhaps even a must-read, for queer folks and allies alike. It is a vulnerable look at the transition journey that Jeremy goes through, starting from when he was quite young to present day. I was very intrigued by the "family memoir" aspect as I have not encountered anything like this before. His parents' reactions to the different stages of his tr I received a free copy from Netgalley, She Writes Press, and BookSparks in exchange for my honest review. CW: sexual assault This is an important book, perhaps even a must-read, for queer folks and allies alike. It is a vulnerable look at the transition journey that Jeremy goes through, starting from when he was quite young to present day. I was very intrigued by the "family memoir" aspect as I have not encountered anything like this before. His parents' reactions to the different stages of his transition were raw and honest, though not always positive. My favorite chapters were from Jeremy's younger brother Sammy's perspective. The book does use Jeremy's dead name and former pronouns up to the point of his transition. His mom does acknowledge this in the beginning of the book, stating that she had wrestled with what to do, but ultimately decided to go this route for clarity's sake.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book was absolutely delightful. It was a very digestible take on a young man’s journey to self-acceptance. I’ve read memoirs about transgender youth before and this one read differently. I think it read with so much heart because it was written by Jeremy’s mother. It was truthful about the pain and grief the family went through grieving their sister / daughter as they came to accept, love, and support their son / brother. I appreciated those stories because it makes it relatable to the aver This book was absolutely delightful. It was a very digestible take on a young man’s journey to self-acceptance. I’ve read memoirs about transgender youth before and this one read differently. I think it read with so much heart because it was written by Jeremy’s mother. It was truthful about the pain and grief the family went through grieving their sister / daughter as they came to accept, love, and support their son / brother. I appreciated those stories because it makes it relatable to the average family who is trying to reconcile their emotions to be there for their loved one. I’d recommend this book to anyone, whether they’re a LGBTQ+ ally or know nothing about transgender rights and issues. It’s super informative to those of all levels of knowledge, and the resources / discussion questions at the back are very relevant and useful.

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