A 2015 Stonewall Honor Book
A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender
, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.
[A] sorely needed resource for teens and, frankly, many adults... Downright revelatory. ... Kuklin captures these teenagers not as idealized exemplars of what it "means" to be transgender but as full, complex, and imperfect human beings. As Kuklin writes, "My subjects’ willingness to brave bullying and condemnation in order to reveal their individual selves makes it impossible to be nothing less than awestruck." She isn’t wrong.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Kuklin brings her intimate, compassionate and respectful lens to the stories of six transgender young people.
... The collective portrait that emerges from these narratives and pictures is diverse, complex and occasionally self-contradictory -- as any true story should be.Informative, revealing, powerful and necessary.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[A] strikingly in-depth examination of the sometimes clinical complexities of being transgender, even as Kuklin’s empathy-inducing pictures put a human face on the experience. ... Kuklin’s important new book brings welcome clarity to a subject that has often been obscure and gives faces—literally and metaphorically—to a segment of the teen population that has too long been invisible. Speaking with equal impact to both the reader’s heart and mind, Beyond Magenta is highly recommended.
—Booklist (starred review)
Readers [will] become immersed in these young adults’ voices and experiences. The youth interviewed here do not uniformly share It Gets Better-style happy endings, but their strength is nonetheless inspirational as they face ongoing challenges with families, sexual and romantic relationships, bullies, schools, transitions, mental health, and more. The level of detail about their lives, and the diversity of their identities–including gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and geography–provide a powerful antidote to the isolation and stigma that some transgender youth experience. ... There is much here that will resonate with and hearten the kids who need it and will foster understanding and support among those who live and work with transgender teens
—School Library Journal
Pain and possibility are juxtaposed in this groundbreaking book that by its very existence portends a better future.
—San Francisco Chronicle
It is a testament to Susan Kuklin's gifts as a listener and interviewer that her subjects describe their lives with such candor. ... Kuklin introduces each teen with a bit of background, and often (but not always) the teen's gender at birth. Kuklin treats her subjects with tenderness and respect. Her book provides both reassurance and answers to questions that teens may not even realize they have.
—Shelf Awareness Pro
The presentation of the spectrum of experiences is remarkably nuanced and sensitive... Kuklin also brings her skills as a photographer to the book’s design, using some pictures documentary-style interspersed throughout an individual’s interview, others grouped as breathtaking galleries that explore expression or isolation.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kuklin’s book is not just a lifeline for teens who are going through something similar and need to see themselves and their lives so openly portrayed—this book is an important read for the parents, friends, and loved ones who want to understand what a transgender teen might be going through. This book is worth having on any shelf in any library and will not linger there long. ... A highly informative resource that is powerful, respectful, honest, and most importantly, long overdue.
In her edited transcriptions of the interviews, Kuklin lets her subjects speak wholly for themselves... Photographs (of most of the subjects) are candid and winning; and appended material, including Kuklin’s explanation of her interview process, a Q&A with the director of a clinic for transgendered teens, and a great resource list, is valuable.
—The Horn Book
This book examines a sensitive issue and explains the spectrum and diversity within the transgender community as well as defines the distinction between transgenders and individuals identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer. ... This book is a valuable resource for students desiring information on gender identity and the LGBTQ community.
—Library Media Connection
An eye-opener. ... Through extensive interviews, Susan Kuklin has captured the thinking and personalities of each subject in this book. Her sensitive photographs shows them as interesting people who have struggled to understand themselves and how they each, in their own unique way, differ from the norm.
—The Huffington Post
[A] candid, inspiring book. ... The teens are members of a group, but also distinct individuals, each with a unique, highly personal story. It goes without saying that their decision to share these stories is courageous. But being brave and taking chances is what transitioning is all about.
—The Chicago Tribune