Once A Girl, Always A Boy

A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

Non-Fiction - Memoir
352 Pages
Reviewed on 06/06/2020
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

Jo Ivester was raised in a politically aware family, with a focus on social justice. When she was a child, her family moved to an all-black town in the Mississippi Delta where her dad ran a clinic and she was the only white student at her junior high. That experience, presented in her award-winning book The Outskirts of Hope, gave her the courage to become an LGBTQ advocate when over forty years later, she learned that her son is transgender.

Jo welcomed Jeremy into the world as what she thought was her daughter. But he preferred the toys and clothing our society views as masculine. In his mid-twenties, he had surgery to remove his breasts and took hormones to lower his voice and grow a beard.

Ivester’s new book, Once a Girl, Always a Boy, presents not only Jeremy’s journey, but also that of the entire family. Of siblings who struggled to understand the brother they saw as a sister. Of parents who didn’t know what to do when their child said he wasn’t a tomboy at all, but a boy. Through her writing and speaking, Jo shares the story of what it was like for her son to grow up in a world not quite ready for people like him.

Jo received a BS in civil engineering from MIT and an MBA from Stanford. She serves on the boards of the Central Texas Anti-Defamation League, Equality Texas, and the Austin branch of GLSEN.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey is a nonfiction memoir written by Jo Ivester and based on the video journals of her son, Jeremy Ivester. Jo and her husband, Jon, were not at all surprised when their third child, called Emily at the time, turned out to be actively involved in sports. Both his older brother and sister were into sports. While Jo and her husband were somewhat surprised when Jeremy didn’t go for the girly stuff, as his older sister did, but instead gravitated for the boy stuff just like his older brother, Ben, they delighted in his choices. And when they were both growing up, Ben spent hours coaching him. So, while Jeremy wasn’t viewed as a boy, he was able to do the boy things he loved and enjoy the friendship and camaraderie of being on and competing in athletic teams. Things all started to change, however, when he and his teammates turned nine. Jo began to realize that Jeremy’s situation was not like her own childhood had been after all. Jeremy, who decided for a while to be called Em, was not outgrowing a predilection for being a tomboy. When he was 19 years old, he happened to be watching an MTV reality show called True Life. It featured a transgender man who described his situation as having been born in a girl’s body and the show chronicled his transition. Watching as he spoke was a watershed moment for Jeremy.

Once a Girl, Always a Boy is a beautifully written account of a transgender boy’s early life and the family who stood beside him all the way. Ivester seamlessly weaves the contributions of her husband, Jeremy’s siblings and sister-in-law, and Jeremy’s video accounts in this honest and moving work. This memoir helps the reader realize that the confusion and turmoil that is puberty becomes even more soul altering when experienced by a transgender child. I was so impressed by Jeremy Ivester’s decision to work with his mother on this story. It would seem that the primary goal of going through surgery and hormone replacement therapy is to be able to live in one’s correct gender without having questions raised about genes or birth gender. His openness in this work is a marvelous gift for future transgender and gender-questioning kids, just as his parents’ support and involvement in being actively involved in transgender rights offer parents a splendid example of how to learn about and support something that might seem so out of the ordinary -- even while it seems to make so much sense. Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey is a stunning and heartfelt story, and the pictures the author includes in the book make the journey feel even more real. Reading this book was a profound and remarkable experience as I was getting to know the Ivester family through their words. It’s most highly recommended.