Book Review: Transitions of the Heart, edited by Rachel Pepper

In this collection edited by Rachel Pepper, you’ll see how other mothers have coped with one of life’s biggest surprises.

Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to understand the feelings of confusion or isolation that come when your son says he’s really a girl, or your daughter swears she’s a boy trapped in the wrong body.

When that happens, you might think you’re alone—but that’s not the case, as you’ll see in Transitions of the Heart (Cleis Press). Other mothers have gone through this with strength and acceptance. Just remember, it is a transition for both of you.

Everything might make sense now: your daughter isn’t just a tomboy. Your son isn’t “just going through a phase.” More than one mother admits that she knew her child was different when she was firmly corrected on pronouns and clothing choice. 

Many women felt relief, and were astonished when they realized that, as their children were allowed to openly express their true genders, they were seeing their sons or daughters happy for the first time. As the stories unfold, it’s especially poignant when this joy has followed suicide attempts.

Still, it’s a process. More than one mother has hoped her child might have a change of heart. There are rants in this book, along with heartbreak and pain. There are moms who can’t believe this happened, and in some cases, it happened more than once in the same immediate family.

And yet, most of the women in this book admit that they’ve come to respect their children and the difficult things they’ve done. For one mom, he’s “someone I would not have missed knowing for anything in the world.” 

Your friends and family might not even know what T in LGBT stands for, but Transitions of the Heart explains in a gentle, celebratory way. That’s a very useful beacon for anyone who feels isolated as their transgender child begins to embrace who (s)he is. But it’s also important that editor Rachel Pepper included stories that aren’t so rosy mixed with the stories of acceptance and encouragement. That added a stronger, more authentic message to this book and quashed the Pollyanna-ish tone that it might’ve had otherwise.

Though this book is for mothers, it would be a helpful read for the rest of the family, too.

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