Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt tells the true story of Kelly and Wayne Maines, who adopted identical twin boys named Jonas and Wyatt in 1997. From a very young age, Nicole (formerly Wyatt) insists that she is a girl. As time goes on,...
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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt tells the true story of Kelly and Wayne Maines, who adopted identical twin boys named Jonas and Wyatt in 1997. From a very young age, Nicole (formerly Wyatt) insists that she is a girl. As time goes on, Nicole asks to dress like a girl and wants her family to treat her as such; after some resistance by Wayne, the parents allow Nicole to start identifying and dressing as a girl in public. They also ask that their families and Nicole's classmates and teachers respect this change. This is a difficult transition for some, but Ellis Nutt notes that the problem is not with Nicole:
If there is an inner distress (characteristic of transgender people) it arises from knowing exactly who they are, but at the same time being locked into the wrong body. . . . The dysfunction arises not from their own confusion, but from being made to feel like freaks or gender misfits.
When Nicole is just seven years old and still forced to identify as Wyatt in public at all times (including school), she is quite miserable. The family shares an excerpt from Nicole's journal at the time that describes how she was feeling about having to present as Wyatt in public:
UnnHappy, sad, mad, Unnspeakable blue red Unnsunshining and hot and cool and red hot and ice cold.
Since Nicole so clearly identifies as Nicole—and always has—it is painful for her to ever have to pretend she is anything other than herself. According to Ellis Nutt,
When it comes to that physical self, for a transgender person every waking moment, every conscious breath, is a denial of who they truly are.
That she has always been so sure of her identity is one of the main reasons that Nicole's parents have become such advocates for their daughter. So when she is denied access to the restroom that corresponds with her gender while in high school, Nicole and her family become plaintiffs in the landmark 2014 Supreme Court case Doe v. Clenchy. As part of his campaign against Maine's school bathroom bill, Wayne wrote the following:
We have tried to live our lives privately, but the stakes are now too high to sit on the sidelines.
In time, the court rules in the Maines' favor, agreeing that Nicole's rights have been violated.