My Brother's Name is Jessica

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My Brother's Name is Jessica

My Brother's Name is Jessica

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Jason is a fine strapping lad and star of the school football team yet he would cross-dress and experiment with make-up. His transgender identity seems to be all about his appearance, which sounds like a fetish to me and nothing to do with wanting the reality of women’s lives. As a long-term ally and supporter of trans people, and the author of a new novel that seeks to help young people embrace both their own identities and the identities of their friends, I’ve been appalled by the response of people on social media towards both my Irish Times article and a book that not a single one of them has even read, since it’s not published until Thursday.” Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, wrote a 2019 children’s story about a trans teenager, My Brother’s Name is Jessica. One of the positive moments that made me tear up was when the coach came around to the house. At this stage, it’s early in the book, and Sam hadn’t cut off Jason’s hair.

My Brother’s Name is Jessica – Book Review – Spoilers My Brother’s Name is Jessica – Book Review – Spoilers

Note, Jason doesn’t merely wish he is a girl. He is “pretty sure” he is one. How, for crying out loud? The exploration of why this particular young man might believe he’s a young woman, if it takes place at all, does so during sessions with a therapist that readers aren’t privy to.And, given that he is emphatically not gay and at an age when young men tend to be rather keen on the idea of sex, what are his expectations of future relationships? Does he expect to be as attractive to girls after becoming an approximation of one himself? I had no problem teaching my children to read pre-school or in nurturing their love of reading fiction. I was immensely proud of them, though I admit there was a large element of self-interest in encouraging them to early literacy. With a library at the end of our street, it was to prove a low cost and effective way of giving me a break from them, annoying little beasts that they were. MyHome.ie (Opens in new window) • Top 1000 • The Gloss (Opens in new window) • Recruit Ireland (Opens in new window) • Irish Times Training (Opens in new window) Boyne is gay and grew up in 1980s Dublin when homosexuality was illegal. He said he knew what it was like to feel different: “But even if I didn’t, that should not prevent me from writing that book. Anyone can write it.”

You were right on trans issues, author tells Father Ted

I found the book very well done. Not only was the writing excellent, as to be expected, but the choice of protagonist, point of view, and characters were well executed. The story felt strong, and the message, and effectiveness could have been defeated if not for these choices. He has a girlfriend who betrays him, finishing their relationship when he confides that he’s “really a girl” and in no time at all everyone at his unconvincingly illiberal London school knows. He went on “while I will happily employ any term that a person feels best defines them, whether that be transgender, non-binary or gender fluid to name but a few, I reject the notion that someone can force an unwanted term onto another.”As a cisgender person, while I do my best to be an ally to my trans siblings, I am aware that my experiences mean I have a bias, and like many cispeople (such as the publishers/editors of this book), I missed a lot of transphobia in the book. In Australia as of late, there has been an increase in articles against trans youth. I was both excited and a bit scared to see how this book would go. It’s so important to have great representation for minorities, and with the growing acceptance of transgender people, but also the vocal transphobia, it’s certainly important for young people to see positive representation. Author John Boyne has apologised to Graham Linehan for criticising his stance on trans issues, saying: “You were right, I was wrong.” What those calling for the boycott of this book illustrate above all else is how the word ‘transphobic’ has become essentially meaningless. It has also become ineffective as a weapon brandished in an attempt to silence anyone who challenges the ideology and falsehoods promoted by trans activists. In Boyne’s case, this seems to amount to objecting to the prefix ‘cis’. The accusation of transphobia should be reserved for those who advocate and carry out discrimination and violence against trans-identified people. Most of those referred to as “transphobes”– including Boyne – don’t do that. In fact, Boyne is a self-declared supporter of the nebulous “trans community” and, as I said in my previous blog about him, he is so much in denial about the hatred, bigotry and violence promoted by so many of those who’ve adopted the ‘trans’ label, that he can’t bear to believe it’s true, in spite of the wealth of evidence. This cookie, set by YouTube, registers a unique ID to store data on what videos from YouTube the user has seen.

YA novel about transgender teen Puffin defends John Boyne’s YA novel about transgender teen

He claimed that the attention of trans activists had led to the breakup of his marriage and said: “Comedy is my first love, it’s the thing I love to do, but I have not been allowed to do that for five years.” Attending McClean’s trial prompted Boyne to give his testimony to the Garda; he can’t say much more about it at the moment, because it is still in their hands. But what was especially striking was the way that Boyne wrote about it, going beyond the horrific nature of the abuse itself to meditate on the effects it has had on his emotional, romantic and sexual life. Recalling relationships that didn’t work and the breakup of his marriage, which he describes to me as the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, he wrote: “The truth is, I’ve failed in every romantic relationship I’ve ever pursued.” In the conversation we have, he talks candidly about how the loss of his husband, with whom he had been in a relationship for 11 years, has “left a scar within me that will never heal”, not least because it was entirely unexpected to him; and about how much he longs for a loving partner to share the life he’s made. I’m not saying, by the way, that Boyne should have written the story differently. As with the awful ITV drama, Butterflies, which aired last year, I’m saying the story shouldn’t have been written at all. Lately, Jason has been growing his hair out a bit, and it’s staring to look quite feminine. He’s been a bit distant lately, and Sam misses how close they were. He also touched on the wider trans debate as it has played out on social media and wrote that he rejected the term “cis”, which refers to when a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.As I discuss the book, I will alternate between Jason and Jessica, and changing pronouns. I do this to maintain coherency with the book. Sam tells the story as though it is happening as it happens. Jason/Jessica’s gender changes depending on what is happening, so with their aunt they’re Jessica (she/her), but with the rest of the family, they’re Jason (he/him) until the final scenes of the book. One day, Jason comes out to his family and tells them he’s a girl. This is a disaster and a half for them, as they haven’t dealt with this before. Their mum is hoping to become Prime Minister, and this is just not something she or their dad want to deal with right now.

My Brother’s Name is Jessica’ by John Boyne | Peak Trans ‘My Brother’s Name is Jessica’ by John Boyne | Peak Trans

But another cis person’s take is being lauded as brilliant trans representation, when we can tell, by the title of the book, that it’s not. I’d almost prefer no rep at all.” The breaking point was when I received one tweet simply saying 'F**k John Boyne' and another, using a fake name, telling me to 'Be careful when I'm out in public' The book follows the family’s journey from denial to acceptance, the heartache they all endure, and finally the positive’s that come from it all, bringing them closer together. It’s the concept of “failing” that feels so poignant. His experiences at school, combined with the fact that homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised until Boyne was in his third year of university and that, by that time, the Aids crisis was in full spate, feel like so much to contend with that self-reproach is simply too cruel. In other parts of his life, after all, Boyne seems like a measure of success: not only in career terms, but in his closeness to family and friends and in his enjoyment of his daily life. “I’m not spending all my day crying about it,” he reassures me. “I work hard. And I like my life a lot. And maybe you just can’t have everything.” The protagonist, Sam, is a 13 year old boy whose parents both work high up in the British government. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and is teased for being dyslexic. His brother, Jason, has adored him since day dot, is the captain of the football/soccer team, is very popular, and the reason why Sam is only teased and not bullied.

In writing My Brother’s Name is Jessicamy hope is that children and young adults—particularly ones who are perhaps not already familiar with transgender issues—will come to this book and start to understand that anyone struggling with these issues needs support and compassion, not judgment.I have tried to write the best novel that I can. I might have succeeded or I might have failed, but I stand by it. I welcome debate and am interested in people’s views on this subject. I do not believe that the trans community bears any relationship to, or any responsibility for the abuse I have received online. I stand 100% behind all trans people, I respect them as brave pioneers, I applaud their determination to live authentic lives despite the abuse they also receive, and I will always do so.” Of course, we can analyse everything with the perspective of death of the author, in which the author is removed from book. That’s my general go to, as I don’t have the time or effort to research and look at what every author has done in the past. However when it comes to representation, and the author even admitting to not consulting trans people, you have to take this things into consideration when looking at the book.



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