Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

5 Stars for Hiding in Plain Sight by Zane Thimmesch-Gill #Memoir #Trans

1.5

Title: Hiding in Plain Sight
Author Name & Publisher: Zane Thimmesch-Gill (Riverdale Avenue Books)
Publication Date & Length: September 9, 2015 – 298 pgs

Synopsis

“Homeless queer kids – and they are legion – too often find themselves ostracized and silenced. In Zane Thimmesch-Gill they have finally found a strong, clear voice.”

–Riki Wilchins, author of Read My Lips, GenderQueer and Queer Theory, Gender Theory

In the memoir, Hiding in Plain Sight, this transgendered author describes in graphic and harrowing detail a homeless teen life on the streets that was marked with constant violence. Amidst the daily struggle to survive, she slowly came to the realization that she hated her body just as much as everyone did. When she was honest with herself she’d always known that she was meant to be a boy.

Despite the intense pressure of street life and having to come to terms with the fact that she was a transsexual, Kali never used drugs or alcohol, never committed a single crime, and never gave up on her dreams to make something out of her life. While the rest of the street kids were escaping into addiction, she figured out how to put herself through college and finance a sex change.

Life slowly improved as Kali became Zane and started settling into his body. He eventually found work at a shelter for homeless youth and started to make friends. But his euphoria was short lived. A resident at the shelter knew that he was a transsexual and became obsessed with making sure everyone found out. A few gang members who were living in the program confronted Zane, and when he was too scared to admit the truth, they decided to get their boys together late one night and prove him wrong.

Hiding in Plain Sight is a transformative and ultimately inspiring story of survival against all odds, of pursing and accomplishing your dreams in spite of enormous and often seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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Review

FiveStars

Wow… This was just… amazing… and heartbreaking.
There were so many times that I wanted to cry and give up for the main character while reading, I can only imagine what it was like for him. Life is hard for most folks, but the author really shows us just how ugly the world is out there for those who don’t fall under ‘normal’ in some people’s books.
I have to say that this is one of those books that everyone really needs to read to not only see how hard it is for someone who is transexual, but just to see how horrible people can be. There are so many things that could’ve gone differently for the author if there would have been people to help in a productive, supportive way. Although I still am thankful that there were people out there that were willing to help the author when he was still in high school even if things didn’t enough out well, it was better than him having stayed with his biological family.
Through it all, the author somehow managed to stay strong and never stop looking toward the future which is amazing. Really inspiring for those of us who don’t have it as hard as he did, but still need the reminder that not only could things be worse, but that tomorrow will come and things will get better as long as we keep trying.
Very well written memoir. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.
Renee

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3 Stars for Mind Your Head: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Suicidal Queer Christian Missionary Kid by Jordan Cosmo #NonFiction #Memoir

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Title: Mind Your Head: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Suicidal Queer Christian Missionary Kid
Author Name & Publisher: Jordan Cosmo (Lulu Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 17, 2015 – 400 pgs

Synopsis

What happens when a homosexual is brought up in a homophobic religion?

In Mind Your Head, the author shares her unforgettable transformation from Jordan Callow, a suicidal anorexic, self-mutilating drug addict, to Jordan Cosmo, a healthy, enlightened, and empowered queer feminist.

Born into the family of conservative Christian missionary parents, Jordan was raised to believe that she must obey God above all else, and that homosexuality had no place in His kingdom.

But Jordan knew she was queer. She didn’t feel like a normal girl on the inside. And she didn’t look like a normal girl on the outside. Despite compulsively praying that God would correct her, she continued to look like a boy and think like a lesbian.

Honest, thought-provoking, and revolutionary, this story will change the way we relate to our queer youth, and more specifically, whether or not we continue to allow religious entities to brainwash them towards self-destruction.

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Review

ThreeStar

I tend to read the memoirs of my heroes.  The stories of people who have done great things.  It was a change to read the memoir of a very ordinary woman.  Jordan Cosmo’s experiences will resonate with anyone who grew up inside the world of Fundamentalist Christianity.

In many ways, Cosmo’s recollection are both uncomfortably familiar and unsettlingly mundane.  The lives of Christian kids in the 90s were intensely structured and involved repetitive routines.  The author recollects these details well, but she needs a good editor to select highlights and prevent the story from becoming tedious.

Cosmo avoids sensationalising her experiences.  She doesn’t vilainize her repressive family, finding victims where others might find bullies.  The result is that much of this story is a slow, year by year recount of a vaguely unremarkable life.

I say unremarkable because Cosmo’s story isn’t any different than those of the many bloggers chronicling their journey from fundamentalism.  I remember crying when I first read Jonny Scaramanga’s blog some years ago, but there is now a large and growing community of adults writing about recovery from the same sort of spiritual abuse Cosmo recounts in her memoirs.  I struggled to find Cosmo’s unique contribution to a busy and complicated dialogue.  

At one point, a girlfriend challenges Cosmo, asking her why she is so miserable when other people survive much worse with more cheer.  I couldn’t help but agree.  Cosmo emerges as a dreary, miserable character.  Her move away from Christianity is grueling and angst-filled.  I know from a sibling’s experience that fundamentalism is even more awful for LGBTQ kids, but it feels like Cosmo spends much of her early life (and much of the story) choosing to cloak herself  in misery.

I really fell out with Cosmo when it took a psychedelic trip induced injury for her to finally move away from her Christian past.  Most of us ran away as soon as we could and didn’t look back.  We didn’t need shrooms, just common sense.  I empathise with the mental health problems faced by so many of the Focus on the Family generation as adults – but I know it isn’t just LGBT survivors who suffer with the guilt and shame issues Cosmo highlights.  We were all screwed up and I’m not sure that wallowing in difficult memories is the most helpful way to move on.

I found Cosmo’s early story most interesting.  Chilling references to ACE style education, the Christian music industry and entrenched misogyny were real and difficult to read as a fellow survivor of fundamentalism.  I didn’t always find myself engaged by Cosmo’s narrative and I didn’t always like Cosmo’s narrative voice.  Adults in their thirties who remember Petra and Michael W Smith, Sparks and Pathfinder girls, Promise Keepers, The Head of the Household and Purity rings will find this a familiar, if disturbing read.

Sarah

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Filed under 3 Star, F/F, New Release, Review, Sarah