Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills is an eye-opening look into the life of a trans-gendered person.
As a senior in high school, Liz decides she’s now Gabe. She’s never felt like a she, but getting everyone to accept her as a he is no easy task. Simple things like which bathroom to use and filling out W2 forms are stress-inducing for her—er, him.
My own confusion over which personal pronouns to use are a good example of how we really get a feel for what Gabe’s struggle is like. The story is in his voice so the struggle is personal and real. It’s not some out there issue we can easily dismiss.
Tackling that topic alone makes it a book worth reading, but no one wants to read a story about a token hot button character. Instead Gabe has this fabulous interest in music and wants to be a DJ. His neighbor is this washed up, old school disc jockey who shows him the ropes. Gabe starts his own community radio show and begins to flourish as he finds himself and generates a following.
It all comes together as a very real and lovely story about humanity.
In light of a recent Southern Baptist Convention resolution about transgendered people, I think a book like this is more necessary than ever. The resolution basically dismisses the struggles of transgendered people, saying God made them one way and they shouldn’t try to change it. Jesus will help them.
I don’t pretend to understand all the theological perspectives here, but where’s the compassion? The resolution did condemn any bullying, abuse or violence against transgendered people, but that feels like lipstick on a pig.
We’re broken people living in a broken world. There are a lot of things that aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. I’m not sure denial is very compassionate.
I see more of Jesus in Gabe and the friends who love him than I do in this church resolution. This is why I read. I don’t know anyone like Gabe personally. But now I have a tiny glimpse of what that life might be like, and I think it makes me a tiny bit more understanding, sympathetic and compassionate.
That feels more like Jesus to me.