BOOK REVIEW "Trading Places" by Jane Baker
This is the story from the mother’s perspective of the transition of their child, with no prior knowledge of the subject, through the various phases of grief towards walking hand in hand with their child. Given its American background and set in 2010-14 timeframe, this book discusses the way that she has moved forward in that religious setting. She has a faith but this book does mainly focus upon the way that she, the family, come to an understanding and continue forward with their child during the transition process. Speaking as parents of a transgender child ourselves, we wonder if this book may not be one that can be read cover-to-cover - a chapter at a time may be a way forward as you process the information. That said, this book accompanies you on the journey. It contains often painful recollections of grief and trauma that she experienced and it’s peppered with references about wanting to ‘turn back the pages’ - its openness is clearly evident. The parents are not the ones who are undergoing the transition process, but they are coming to terms with their perceptions and assumptions which have been shattered and altered, and in love, want to correlate those fresh understandings with their child’s dreams and reality.
There are sections which relate to those questions which parents may ask of the transition process. The book covers descriptions of terms which arise during the transition, breaking up the flow of the story, allowing the reader to take a breath - to aid technical discussion, before returning to Jane Baker’s story which can be distinctly raw at times.
What did you find most helpful about this book?
The metaphor of the seasons of the year helped to give us meaning to where we were in the process. To move from Spring to Summer allowed us to come to terms that they were moving forward and that we were also ‘in phase’. The use of PFLAG (FFLAG and of course Diverse Church Parents, in the UK) gave us confidence to speak out, to help others in similar circumstances.
“I, on the other hand, had entered the realm of a vast new dimension of humanity: a beautiful world filled with countless rich stories of courage and strength”. We have seen this perspective often during meetings with our child and within the LGBTQIA community. It keeps us going, wanting to seek this wonderful world : the Kingdom of God.