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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 264

Becoming Nicole tells the real life story of the American Maines family whose bonds ultimately grew stronger after years of struggling to come to terms with the gender identity of one of the family's twin children, Nicole. The book also touches on Nicole's fight to find acceptance within her schooling system and broader community.

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The parents depicted in the book are named Kelly and Wayne Maines. In 1997 they adopted a pair of identical twin boys named Jonas and Wyatt. As the children grew, Wyatt began to claim to be a girl. Kelly and Wayne weren't sure the best way to respond. Wayne, a Republican and an Air Force veteran, had doubts due to his traditional views on gender. Kelly was also confused. As she said in an interview with Terry Gross (2015), "I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on: . . . Is she gay? Is she transvestite? Is she transgender? I honestly had no experience in understanding what any of that meant."

Over a number of years, the parents grew to accept that Wyatt was transgender. They started referring to Wyatt as Nicole and purchased the dolls and girls' apparel Nicole had been requesting for a long time. When Nicole faced bullying and harassment from those in her school and broader community, the family banded together to try to help her. They received press attention when they filed a discrimination lawsuit against Nicole's school. They won this lawsuit on appeal in 2014. Nicole went on to undergo sex reassignment surgery and has become an actress, appearing in the TV show Supergirl.

Summary

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 218

Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt is about Nicole, a transgender girl, and the importance of respecting and celebrating individuality. The author reveals the challenges that the girl’s family went through after adopting Wyatt and his twin brother Jonas. Nutt highlights the various differences that Wayne and Kelly Maines noted between their sons as they grew up.

Jonas liked playing games and cars, while Wyatt preferred playing with princess dolls. When the two were toddlers, Wyatt started claiming that he was a girl, which brought confusion and difficulty in the family. As the two grew up, Wayne and Kelly began questioning their opinions regarding identity and gender as a way of understanding their son’s transition to Nicole. The parents undergo emotional difficulties that make them go against what they have always believed in because of their child.

The book reveals how Jonas’s transformation to Nicole almost destroyed a family. The author shows the reader the power of a mother’s love and a young girl’s fight for her individuality and sexuality. Also, the difficulties that Nicole goes through while growing up are addressed in the book. For instance, she was discriminated against when she was in middle school. Furthermore, Nutt discusses the global perception of gender and explains what it means to be transgender.

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