June 2023


Better than I am J: The Passing Playbook

A decade ago I reflected on reading “I am J” – the first book I had read focusing on transgender individuals. At the time, it was one of the few books I had read that took on being transgender directly – but it left me feeling “meh.”

Since then I’ve read any number of books with transgender characters – I think mostly in supporting roles, but often well developed and portrayed. See Heartstopper, among others.

A couple months ago I was in London (seeing George Takei) – where I stopped by Gays the Word. There I picked up a stack of books. Three months later and I am starting to make my way through the stack.

The Passing Playbook (Isaac Fitzsimons) is a charming YA novel that takes on being transgender from the first person and weaves a believable (at least to me) narrative about being an FTM boy in modern day Ohio. Given that the book is about playing soccer, I assumed that the “passing” was about passing the ball, but in retrospect, I was laughably naïve: of course it is about “passing” as your target gender, not being somewhere in the middle. (OK – there is a double meaning, so I wasn’t completely off.)

It’s remarkable to me that society has shifted this far over the course of a decade (even if there is substantial backsliding right now) – this is a very well written, engaging, engrossing novel. I found myself putting aside other activities to be able to finish the book in short order.

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