Detransition, Baby

I first became aware of Detransition, Baby (2021), by Torrey Peters, when it was one of Roxane Gay’s first picks for her book club.

It is the story of Reese, a trans woman; and Ames/Amy, a trans woman, who is Reese’s former girlfriend who detransitioned, and then had an affair with Katrina, his boss, a nearly-40 year old cis woman, who becomes accidentally pregnant. Ames still considers himself trans despite having detransitioned, but the idea of becoming a father is overwhelming, so he asks Katrina if she would consider parenting as a triad with Reese.

The main plot of the book is Katrina giving this proposal significant thought as she gets to know Reese. Reese is the most mothering woman Ames knows, but after her breakup with Amy, which was caused by Reese’s cheating, Reese has continued self-destructive relationships with abusive, married men.

A lot of the book consists of flashbacks to both Ames/Amy’s and Reese’s histories and background that led each of them to this situation. As a cis woman, it was fascinating for me to read both trans characters’ perspectives. Peters’ language is beautiful and the premise of the book thought-provoking. It will stay with you for a long time.

One quote I loved, from Reese: “The only people who have anything worthwhile to say about gender are divorced cis women who have given up on heterosexuality but are still attracted to men. . .they go through everything I go through as a trans woman. . . The ones who have seen how the narratives given to them since girlhood have failed them, and who know there is nothing to replace it all. But who still have to move forward without investing in new illusions or turning bitter — all with no plan to guide them.”

It was generally weight-neutral, with a couple descriptions of plumpness as being attractive, but I wouldn’t call it fat-positive as there were no explicitly fat characters.

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