put a spoon under the bed because German folklore said
it would help produce a girl. Turned the mattress so
that it faced east-west instead of north-south, which
the Talmud said encouraged sons.
all worked, but in a roundabout way. Nine months after
the spoon and the directional switch, Rosie Walsh and
her husband, Penn, became the proud parents of a boy
named Claude who, when he was 3, declared that he wanted
to be a girl.
can be anything you want when you grow up, baby,"
so begins "This Is How It Always Is," Seattle
author Laurie Frankelís new book about a family
navigating the unexpected turns that come when a child
states with unflinching certainty he (or she) belongs in
a different body, and wants to transition.
has taken the adage "write what you know" to
heart: "This Is How It Always Is" was inspired
by her experiences with her own daughter, now 8 and in
the third grade.
fall, Frankel wrote a New York Times "Modern
Love" column titled "From He to She in First
all started with a puppet theater and chest of dress-up
clothes she and her husband bought for their
theater-loving son. They included high heels, a straw
hat and a sparkly green dress for his female playmates.
The boy plucked the dress from the chest and put it on.
a sense," Frankel wrote, "he never took it
while the column touched on what happened when their
child decided to wear a dress and sandals to the first
day of school, "This Is How It Always Is" goes
far beyond, exploring how a gender transition affects
and changes a family and how it relates to the world.
its very heart, the book delves into the many ways
parents love their children ó for better, for worse,
but always with the best intentions.
obvious conflict is between parents who want to be
accepting of (gender dysphoria) in their children, and
parents who want to get rid of this," Frankel said.
when they are accepting, she said, they may have
we agree that we are going to love and accept this
child, then how do we proceed?" Frankel asked.
"Do we drug her? Do we operate?
impulse to protect the child is paramount," she
said. "And the issue of how to protect the child is
much more complicated ó in a good way."
are real-world conversations that we are just starting
to have, Frankel said, which left her room to explore in
yet, the issue of transitioning seems to be less
complicated for the children going through it. Their
minds are clear.
is the first generation of kids for whom this is
happening, and itís a wonderful thing," Frankel
said. "It doesnít have to come to being
desperate, an ĎI have to do this, or else I am going
to die.í Until this generation, itís been a story of
trauma and desperation.
daughter is very clear in a way that is muddled for
me," Frankel said. "I see everything that is
scary about it and she doesnít see any of that."
praised her daughterís school for their help with and
support of her transition.
didnít need much from them, and they have treated it
like itís not a giant deal," Frankel said.
"They felt that she was at an age old enough to
make decisions for herself," whether it be which
bathroom she uses, or how to tell her classmates.
was a transition that everybody grew along with,"
43, is a native of Baltimore who studied English
literature. For a while, she taught at a community
an author was never the plan," she said. "It
was the fantasy, but never seemed like a realistic
possibility for a lot of years.
you never know if you can write a novel until you write
Is How It Always Is" is Frankelís third.
first book, "The Atlas of Love," has been
optioned for television.
second, "Goodbye for Now" ó about a couple
who create and market an algorithm that allows people to
stay connected, via email, with loved ones who have died
ó has been optioned for film. The filmmakers are in
talks with actors and directors, but Frankel doesnít
know much beyond that. Which is fine with her.
me, itís very interesting to watch and itís one part
of the whole book process that I donít feel overly
invested in," she said. "I feel like this
movie is not my problem.
it happens, Iíll be thrilled. If it doesnít, Iíll
now, she is eager to bring her new book to people
involved in a loved oneís transition, and those who
come to the issue cold.
hope that everyone will read this book, that it will
appeal to anyone," she said. "That question of
how you love and how you face challenges in your life
and your family. How you protect by also nurturing.
questions are being asked by everyone," she said.
"And my book is a full fleshing out of ideas. I
hope that people will read it and come to a fuller