New World Library, 2020
Paria Hassouri is a loving devoted mother of three and a practicing pediatrician in Los Angeles, California. This memoir is a beautifully written, insightful, authentic, and vulnerable account of her own journey along-side her middle daughter Ava’s journey and transition. Paria shares her deepest feelings, both positive and negative. She talks about her apprehensions in having Ava start hormone therapy, change her legal name, and make so many ‘permanent’ decisions. She reveals how worried she is about whether Ava will be accepted by society, what her child’s future will look like, and if she will find love. As the book progresses, Paria moves through stages of shock, denial, confusion and grief, to acceptance, pride, joy, and unconditional love.
She moves from parenting because of her own worst worries and fears, to having a deepening understanding and appreciation for her daughter’s point of view and insights, and ultimately parenting from a place of respect and love. Paria realizes that her daughter’s true happiness depends on Ava being able to express her authentic self.
Quoting from the book:
(T)his kid who just saw people as people … I again found myself proud that this person I had raised was aware of the importance of being herself, of living her truth … (O)mitting or denying any aspect of someone’s gender identity is a lie and not a true acknowledgement of all that they are.
A primary concern for Paria, expressed early in the book, was her mistaken belief that only children who come out pre-puberty, are transgender. This caused Paria to doubt that Ava was truly transgender. With the help of support groups, caring professionals, and her own research, Paria comes to understand the complexity and variety of transgender expression in people. This was information that she had not been taught in medical school, and that ultimately contributed to Paria’s growth as a parent and as a practicing pediatrician who advises other parents.
Paria’s memoir is a source of information and comfort to parents who may be struggling in knowing how to love and support their trans and non-binary children. It is a powerful message of the importance of loving and supporting all children on their journeys to becoming their authentic selves.
Paria Hassouri can be found through her website pariahassouri.com, and on Instagram @laparia and Twitter @pariahassouri.
This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans board member Barb Shumer, who is a retired public librarian.