Top critical review
Poppy is very happy and feels most whole as a female
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2017
Attempts to take on an important issue, but misses the boat on some important aspects
I give Laurie Frankel credit for trying to write about transgender children, a new topic for many people. I appreciate her ability to describe the reality of family-life, and I was impressed by the description of Claude blossoming once allowed to be Poppy, a transformation I have seen many times. As a pediatrician, though, there are some things that I want to clarify for families who may have transgender children in the family, and be looking for guidance.
1) Gender dysphoria: Poppy is very happy and feels most whole as a female, and yet does not have any negative thoughts about her male body parts. In the book, this is attributed to the family being so accepting, but children with gender dysphoria will have negative feelings about their genitalia. This is not because of something their family did, but because they don't feel that it fits who they are on the inside. These negative feelings are incredibly common, but also do need to be addressed head-on with therapy.
2) Ask for help: The family doesn't ask for help, which, for a mother who is a doctor, and a father doing tons of research, while living in a city with plenty of resources, is an enigma to me. The parents talk to a social worker in Wisconsin via Skype, but Poppy's pediatrician is never involved and Poppy and her siblings never talk to a counselor or seek out a support group. I get that the story works best to talk about the dangers of secrets, but I don't feel like the point is ever made that none of them need to feel alone, there are many other people dealing with the same feelings and the same issues and resources to be tapped into. The way to avoid suicide, depression, and anxiety in transgender children has been very clearly shown to be an accepting environment, and that doesn't just mean at home. Look up the American Academy of Pediatrics guide to supporting transgender children for more details.