‘Becoming Nicole’ – One Family’s Acceptance of a transgender child

NPR.org Your Health October 19, 2015

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, Jonas and Wyatt, at birth in 1997, they were thrilled at the idea of having two sons. For a while, it was virtually impossible to tell the boys apart. But as they grew older, one child, Wyatt, started insisting that he was a girl.

“I [was] like, ‘Hmm, I’ve got twins but one’s not like the other. They’re very different,’ ” Kelly Maines, the twins’ mother, tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on: … Is she gay? Is she transvestite? Is she transgender? I honestly had no experience in understanding what any of that meant.”

Over the course of several years, Kelly and Wayne began to accept that one of the twins was transgender. They had Wyatt’s name changed to Nicole and began buying her dolls and girls’ clothes, which she had been asking for.

Wayne acknowledges that it wasn’t always easy. He worried about what the neighbors would think, but those concerns faded when Nicole began being bullied and harassed. “When people start coming after your kid, you get your head right: ‘This is my baby. Don’t mess with my kids.’ That’s probably when I turned a corner,” he says.

The Maines went on to file a discrimination lawsuit against Nicole’s school district, which they won on appeal last year. This year, Nicole and her twin brother, Jonas, graduated from high school and Nicole had gender reassignment surgery.

Together with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt, Wayne and Kelly Maines tell their family’s story in the new book, Becoming Nicole. Nutt joins Kelly and Wayne Maines in the studio to discuss the book and how biology affects gender identity.

Listen to the NPR interview.