Never a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey (Paperback)

Never a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey By Jo Ivester Cover Image
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Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys' clothing. They called him a tomboy. That's what he called himself.

By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard--and he announced his new name and pronouns.

Never a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy's journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy's story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives--those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

About the Author

Jo Ivester was raised in a politically active family. In 1967, when she was ten years old, her father moved their family from Boston, MA to an all-black town in the Mississippi Delta, where they were drawn into the heart of the civil rights movement. Because of this experience, Jo is committed to advocating for equal rights for all. Her best-selling, award-winning memoir about her family’s time in Mississippi, The Outskirts of Hope (She Writes Press, April 2015), has led to numerous speaking engagements about racial relations. In the last few years, she has broadened her focus to raise awareness about the transgender community, and now serves on the board of Equality Texas, a non-profit LGBTQ rights organization. When not focused on family, writing, and advocate work, Jo enjoys skiing, walking on the beach, and swing dancing with her husband.

Praise For…

“A must-read in today’s political environment, this courageous book demonstrates how to fight prejudice and embrace acceptance.”

—Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin

“This is a story of how acceptance happens. It is a universal one about how good people can struggle to find the right path when challenged by the unfamiliar. This optimistic book is an excellent read for anyone nervous about sharing their private lives and thoughts with their loved ones, and for those who are unsure about how to respond. Once a Girl, Always a Boy guides us through the key decision points Jeremy and his family got to and got through as parents, siblings, and Jeremy himself all moved toward acceptance—at different speeds, but ultimately, together.”

—Mara Keisling, founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)

“Familial support is so crucial to reducing misconceptions and stigma surrounding the trans community. It is often the difference between success and support vs. crisis and instability. This beautifully written and vulnerable narrative does a phenomenal job of telling the story of the Ivester family’s journey as their son and brother came to embrace his truth and live in it. The insight and perspective Jo so skillfully shares while keeping the reader engaged throughout the story makes this a must-read.”

—Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)

“This book will save lives. It is a testament that love and kindness can and do win out. A moving, powerful, and life-changing story not just about how a family cares for one another but also of how they’ve used the lessons of their transgender journey to pave the way for others. I’ve spent a lifetime searching to find myself reflected in the world around me. And now, it’s as if someone found the movie reels of my childhood and told my story, only in a different family, in a different town, and with more of a fairy tale ending. This is the book I wish I could have read when I was on my own journey of self-discovery.”

—Sam Slate, member of the National Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign

“This heartfelt book shines the light on how important unconditional love is when someone is transitioning to become their authentic self. The way Jo and Jeremy Ivester track this journey in Once a Girl, Always a Boy gives people insight into what it really means to be transgender. The Ivesters are amazing allies in the fight for equal rights and dignity and respect for the LGBTQ community.”

—Angela Hale, acting chief executive officer for Equality Texas

“When I read Ivester’s book, I had to put it down and come back several times because it addresses so honestly the difficult issues I personally faced growing up as a transgender man. In my professional life, I work with families like the Ivesters every day and see firsthand how they want to be supportive but sometimes don’t know how. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a testament to a family who tried and succeeded and grew closer to one another on the journey. I cannot wait to share it with the families I seek to help through Trans-Cendence International.”

—Finnigan Jones, executive director of Trans-Cendence International

“The author of The Outskirts of Hope tells another real-life tale that we all need to hear, especially the large number of us with no experience of a subject rightly seeking its place on the national stage. The more people read this enlightening family story, the easier the journey will be for those still subject to the discriminations of ignorance and prejudice.”

—Murray Biggs, Adjunct Associate Professor, Yale University

“Being transgender is a foreign concept to most people. For the Ivester family, it crashed into their lives when the child they thought was their daughter started to seek his true identity. Jo and Jon Ivester scrambled to support this quest with sensitivity and compassion. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is not just the story of a transgender journey but also of a family’s acceptance of one of its own. Told in frank and warm-hearted terms with a touch of humor, this gripping tale will stay with its readers for years to come.”

—Forrest Preece, Columnist, West Austin News

“Unconditional love and support—the very fabric that weaves a family together—is profoundly illustrated in this real-life story of one young man’s journey to become the person he was born to be. Courageously sharing their personal experiences, Jeremy and his family provide honest insight into how they navigated the challenges and triumphs of being transgender and having a transgender son. The Ivesters will undoubtedly touch their readers’ hearts as they share theirs with us.”

—Gregory Abbink, Senior Police Officer, Austin Police Department, Austin’s first openly transgender police officer

“Raw, insightful, and told from multiple perspectives, Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a poignant reminder that transgender people are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. A book that is both painful and inspiring to read, this memoir is a deeply emotional journey, one that will resonate for everyone. Whether you’re learning about transgender people for the first time or seeking inspiration and community, Ivester’s book is a must read.”

—Kasey Suffredini, chief executive officer of Freedom for All Americans (FFAA)

“I wish all transgender people could experience the love, compassion, and acceptance demonstrated in Once a Girl, Always a Boy. Ivester’s book is a poignant reminder that all of us—transgender or not—are on a journey toward understanding and self-acceptance.”

—Masen Davis, co-chair of the International Trans Fund Steering Committee, former executive director of Transgender Law Center, and former CEO of FFAA

“A unique addition to transgender memoirs, Once a Girl, Always a Boy centers author Jo Ivester’s and her family’s voices alongside that of her transgender son, Jeremy. Ivester elevates the questions, worries, and support of the entire family along Jeremy’s journey. Once a Girl, Always a Boy reveals the not-so-linear process of transition, love, and acceptance.”

—Seth M. Marnin, board chair of Keshet and former VP for Civil Rights at the Anti-Defamation League

“While discovering and exploring one’s gender identity is a profoundly personal and internal process—no one transitions ‘at’ anyone—the open honesty of Jo, Jon, and their transgender son, Jeremy, highlights how the ripples cast by one’s identity wash over the people in our lives. Fortunately, in Once a Girl, Always a Boy, Jo Ivester authentically portrays meeting the unexpected with love, openness, and compassion.”

—Rebecca Kling, transgender educator and advocate, inaugural member of The Trans 100, and former education program director of the NCTE

Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a heartwarming affirmation of one family’s journey to navigate a just path and to realize and celebrate the remarkable potential unleashed when they embrace a transgender son and brother. While some in our society would exclude and marginalize those who are different, the Ivesters welcomed their son Jeremy as his authentic self. The family’s learned experience has led them to be vocal advocates for everyone on the LGBTQIA++ spectrum. By bravely sharing her family’s personal story, Jo Ivester invites her readers to be more accepting and to recognize that transgender individuals are due the same love, dignity and respect we all should enjoy.”

—Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas

Product Details
ISBN: 9781631528866
ISBN-10: 1631528866
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: April 21st, 2020
Pages: 352
Language: English