Shaking up transgender assumptions – Reviewed by Julie Foster

Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers

By Cris Beam

HARCOURT; 323 Pages; $25
Real women can have penises. And “the brain and the heart are the only organs with a gender, and … all genital modification or lack thereof is simply a personal aesthetic choice.” These are some of the titillating ideas explored in “Transparent,” Cris Beam’s first book.

But Beam’s engaging narrative does more than just provoke or amuse. It helps readers adjust their assumptions, as Beam admits hers were adjusted, about a world many may be unfamiliar with.

Beam teaches creative writing at the New School and Columbia University and has written for Teen People, Parenting, Out, Mademoiselle and the radio program “This American Life.” But in 1998, she was a freelance magazine writer with spare time. She began volunteering at a high school in Los Angeles for gay and transgender teens.