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Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family: Home

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family


About the Book


When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But by the time Jonas and Wyatt were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this story and tells it with unflinching honesty, intimacy, and empathy. In her hands, Becoming Nicole is more than an account of a courageous girl and her extraordinary family. It’s a powerful portrait of a slowly but surely changing nation, and one that will inspire all of us to see the world with a little more humanity and understanding.

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Read an Excerpt

Mirror Image
The child is mesmerized. Tapping his toes and shuffling his small sandaled feet in a kind of awkward dance, he swirls and twirls, not in front of the camera, but in front of the window in the shiny black oven door. It’s just the right height for a two--year--old. Wyatt is bare chested and wears a floppy hat on the back of his head. A string of colorful Mardi Gras beads swings around his neck. But what has really caught his attention, what has made this moment magical, are the shimmering sequins on his pink tutu. With every twist and turn, slivers of light briefly illuminate the face of the little boy entranced by his own image.
“This is one of Wyatt’s favorite pastimes—-dancing in front of the window of the stove,” says the disembodied voice behind the video camera. “He’s got his new skirt on and his bohemian chain and his hat and he’s going at it. . . . Wave to the camera, Wy.”
Maybe Wyatt doesn’t hear his father. Maybe he’s only half--listening, but for whatever reason he ignores him and instead sways back and forth, his eyes never leaving his own twinkling reflection. Finally, the little boy does what he’s asked—-sort of. He twists his head around slightly and gazes shyly up at his father, then lets out a small squeal of delight. It is a child’s expression of intense happiness, but Wayne Maines wants something else.
“Show me your muscles, Wy. Can I see your muscles?” he prompts the son.

Suddenly Wyatt seems self--conscious. His eyes slide slowly from his father’s face and settle on something—-or nothing—-on the other side of the kitchen, just out of camera range. He hesitates, not sure what to do, then, ignoring his father again, turns back to the oven window and strikes a pose. It’s a halfhearted pose, really: With his two little fists propped under his chin, he flexes his nonexistent muscles. He knows he’s not giving his father what he wants, but he also can’t seem to break the spell of his reflection.


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About the Author - Amy Ellis Nutt

Amy Ellis Nutt                                                

Washington, D.C.

Reporter covering neuroscience and mental health.Education: Smith College, BA in English and philosophy; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MS in philosophy; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, MS injournalismAmy Ellis Nutt covers neuroscience and mental health for The Washington
Post. She won the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing in 2011 and is the author or co-author of three books. Nutt previously worked at the Star-Ledger in Newark, NJ and Sports Illustrated. She was a Nieman fellow at Harvard from 2004 to 2005 and in 2013 was Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.Honors & Awards:
  • Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing, 2011
  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing, 2009
  • American Society of Newspaper Editors, Distinguished Writing Award, non-deadline writing, 2003
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pinnacle of Excellence Award, 2004
  • National Headliner Award, health/science reporting, 2011
  • Deadline Club Award, feature reporting, 2011
  • Newswomen's Club of New York, Front Page Award, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009
  • Nieman Fellow in Journalism, Harvard University, 2004-2005

Nicole Maines is a Superhero


Nicole Maines on Becoming TV’s First Transgender Superhero


Supergirl” will be gaining a new ally — TV’s first transgender superhero — when her series returns on Sunday. That night viewers will meet Nia Nal, who is a reporter in training working alongside Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), the civilian guise of the title hero. As the season progresses, Nia will be revealed to be the superheroine Dreamer. The character will be played by Nicole Maines, an actress and activist who is also transgender.

“It is a phenomenal time to be a queer nerd,” Ms. Maines said. “We have so much representation on the superhero shows!”

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