BookBrowse Reviews Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Detransition, Baby

by Torrey Peters

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters X
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2021, 352 pages

    Oct 2021, 368 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
Buy This Book

About this Book



Bold, incisive and emotionally intelligent, Detransition, Baby handles the sensitive subject of detransitioning with exceptional grace.

Reese and Amy, two trans women living in New York, had the kind of romantic relationship that many people dream of. That is, until Amy detransitioned, and things fell apart. Now, Reese spends her time pursuing dangerous sex with destructive men, futureless relationships that mask her most burning desire: to raise and nurture a child. When Amy, now living as Ames, contacts her out of the blue, it looks like Reese might finally get her wish. Ames has gotten Katrina, his new lover and boss, pregnant. Wanting to keep the baby, but deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of cisgender fatherhood, Ames comes up with an unorthodox solution: If Reese will agree to co-parent with them, then the suffocating roles of the cisgender family will be broken, and Ames will be able to "live up to what they both hoped he could be by being what he already was: a woman but not, a father but not."

This somewhat dramatic setup becomes, in the capable hands of Torrey Peters, a tender and adoring look into the lives of two complicated trans women as they attempt to overcome their past damages and build a new kind of family. Funny, frank and full of perspicuous insights on gender and sexuality, Detransition, Baby is a domestic drama for the modern age. Told through the alternating perspectives of Reese and Amy, the story shifts its chronology as the couple reflects on their past relationship and their present predicament, gradually unveiling their tumultuous history and the events leading up to Ames' detransition.

Detransitioning, which refers to stopping or reversing a gender transition (whether by medical procedure, changing one's public identity or other means), is a highly sensitive subject, but Peters has created in Amy a nuanced and thoughtful portrait of someone dealing with the reality of the issue, a complex character of peculiar strength. Her motivations are surprisingly and sadly pragmatic, the result of a traumatic experience that made living as trans seem just "too fucking hard." Yet despite now presenting as the gender she was assigned at birth, she has not lost her trans identity. Her sense of self transcends the "bullshit of gender," allowing her to be comfortable being referred to as "he" by Katrina, although to Reese she will always be "she." In this way, Peters delineates between "being trans" (a deep-rooted sense of identity) and "doing trans" (a way of presenting yourself to the world) whilst also expressing the exhaustion of living as a trans woman in a world still riddled with transphobia.

In addition, Detransition, Baby explores the experience of both trans and cis motherhood. As the newly formed threesome try to come up with a structure for raising the baby, the two expecting mothers (Reese and Katrina) must examine their beliefs about motherhood and its importance. Reese must contend with her fear of being seen as secondary to Katrina, and deal with the frustration and pain that this causes her. Meanwhile, Katrina must decide whether she is willing to share her baby with Reese. She must also decide whether she can continue her relationship with Ames, who had been keeping his trans identity a secret from her.

Peters, a trans woman herself, writes with intimate detail about trans culture in a way that I'm sure will be startlingly familiar to many who live that reality, but is likely to be revelatory for many outside of it. With wit and intelligence, she illuminates the pleasures, pains and psychological pressures of her trans protagonists as they navigate the world. While not the main focus of the story, some sexually explicit scenes and dialogue are included in this exploration of the characters' lives. There are also references to sexual violence that might make some readers uncomfortable, but Peters' willingness to speak her characters' truth is what makes the book feel important. In addition, Reese's irreverent discourses on femininity and the performative aspects of gender identity offer a helpful lens with which to view one's own relationship to gender. I came away from the book feeling both more in touch with my own gender and more questioning of my relationship to it.

Warm, bold and compassionate, Detransition, Baby is an entertaining and emotionally intelligent novel sure to provoke discussion.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2021, and has been updated for the November 2021 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: They're Going to Love You
    They're Going to Love You
    by Meg Howrey
    Teenage Carlisle lives with her mother in Ohio, but their relationship has never felt particularly ...
  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...
  • Book Jacket: Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    by Kevin Wilson
    The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with ...
  • Book Jacket: Foster
    by Claire Keegan
    Irish author Claire Keegan is experiencing a surge in popularity, thanks to the selection of her ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Cradles of the Reich
by Jennifer Coburn
Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Lydia Millet

    "Tender but never sentimental, wearing its intelligence in a low-slung style, Dinosaurs is a garden of earthly delights."—Vogue


Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

To make a library it takes two volumes and a fire. Two volumes and a fire, and interest. The interest alone will ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.