Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

becoming nicole

When Kelly and Wayne Maines adopted twin baby boys, they named them Wyatt and Jonas.  From an early age, there were clear personality differences between their sons:  Jonas was shy and gravitated toward sports and other stereotypically masculine interests, while Wyatt was more assertive and loved dressing up as the Little Mermaid and playing with dolls. As they grew older, Wyatt expressed discomfort about his body, asking repeatedly when he would turn into a girl and pleading to wear skirts instead of pants.  The Maineses — especially Wayne — struggled to accept the fact that Wyatt was transgender, but they gradually threw their full support behind their child’s true identity as Nicole.  And when Nicole began to face discrimination and bullying at school, they fought fiercely for her rights to be treated as any other girl — pursuing a legal battle that made headlines nationwide.

Written with compassion and insight by Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Amy Ellis Nutt, Becoming Nicole is the remarkable portrait of a family confronting widespread prejudice and emerging victorious.

"Kelly and Wayne could tell Wyatt was moodier than Jonas; he would occasionally lash out at his brother as if frustrated just by his presence. There was something else, too. At night, when she bathed the boys, Kelly would catch Wyatt staring into the long mirror hanging on the inside of the bathroom door. As she pulled off Jonas’s clothes and plunked him into the tub, she’d notice Wyatt standing naked and transfixed in front of the mirror. What did the two-year-old see? Himself? His identical twin brother? It was impossible to know, and impossible to ask Wyatt, of course. But often it seemed as if the little boy was puzzled by his reflection, unsure of the image staring back. There was some inscrutable pain behind his eyes. He seemed tense and anxious, as if his heart was in knots and he didn’t know how to untie them."

Amy Ellis Nutt is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author.  Her books include Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family; The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Gide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults; and Shadows as Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man’s Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic TriumphShe currently lives in Washington, D.C., where she is a science reporter for The Washington Post.

Published:  2015
Length:  279 pages
Set in:  Maine, United States