Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters [5/10]

In “Detransition, Baby: A Novel,” Reese, a trans woman who longs to raise a child, is asked by her ex, Amy, who is now Ames, a detransitioned man, to consider a complicated three-way family arrangement to bring up the upcoming baby of Katrina, Ames’s girlfriend and a cis woman. The novel is a wonderfully complex hybrid of a relationship drama and a roaring polemic on the trials of modern trans people, and it’s the latter aspect that makes for a fascinating read, especially for someone like me who longs for a world with full rights for and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, but who has only a shallow knowledge of it. The author accorded me a gratefully absorbed education. The underlying story, of the complex motivations of the key three people and their evolving reactions to Katrina’s approaching birth, was, I consider, less successful. The information dump, interesting as it is, overwhelms any plotline, so that, despite the author’s best efforts to skillfully inject humor and drama, the end result feels like a series of investigative journalism pieces enlivened by modern narrative techniques. Of all the three characters, Ames/Amy is the one who comes closest to springing to life on the page. The plot itself is enjoyable if thin. The dialogue collapses under the need to pontificate. Overall, Detransition, Baby is an enjoyable read but more for content than style or story.

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