Summary and book reviews of Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Detransition, Baby

by Torrey Peters

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters X
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
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  • Published:
    Jan 2021, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
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About this Book

Book Summary

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child.

But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese—and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby—and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

This excerpt contains sexually explicit content.

Chapter One

One month after conception

The question, for Reese: Were married men just desperately attractive to her? Or was the pool of men who were available to her as a trans woman only those who had already locked down a cis wife and could now "explore" with her? The easy answer, the one that all her girls advocated, was to call men dogs. But now, here's Reese—sneaking around with another handsome, charming, motherf***ing cheater. Look at her, wearing a black lace dress and sitting in his parked Beamer, waiting while he goes into a Duane Reade to buy condoms. Then she's going to let him come over to her apartment, avoid the pointed glare of her roommate, Iris, and have him f*** her right on the trite floral bedspread that the last married dude bought her so that her room would seem a little more girly and naughty when he snuck away from his wife.

Reese had already diagnosed her own problem. She didn't know how to be alone. She...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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. 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...continued

Full Review Members Only (702 words).

(Reviewed by Grace Graham-Taylor).

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Detransition, Baby is that rare social comedy in which the author cuts people up not to judge them, but to show how we fail to fit together.

BookPage (starred review)
Devastating, hilarious, touching, timely...this is an acutely intelligent story about womanhood, parenthood and all the possibilities that lie within.

Publishers Weekly
Peters conceives of a world so lovable and complex, it's hard to let go.

Refinery29
Funny and gossipy and insightful and cutting and absolutely delicious, all while tackling issues from a lens that has been missing from the literary world for way too long.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
W]onderfully original...the author does a terrific job of communicating cultural specificity while creating universal sympathy. Trans women will be matching their experiences against Reese's, but so will cis women—and so will anyone with an interest in the human condition. Smart, funny, and bighearted.

Author Blurb Helen Phillips, author of The Need
I love Detransition, Baby for its wit, its irreverence. And I love it even more for its reverence—its reverence for the quest for womanhood, motherhood, selfhood. Torrey Peters evokes these characters with such fullness and compassion that they felt like dear friends to me. This is an important book, and I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb Claire Lombardo, New York Times-bestselling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
Detransition, Baby is emotionally generous, richly textured, and deeply intelligent—a vibrant and kaleidoscopic portrait of complicated women and their colliding lives.

Author Blurb Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox
This book. This book. Torrey Peters just took everything that couldn't be done and did it. Out of the vibrant particulars of trans experience, Detransition, Baby renews a fundamental novelistic ambition: to peel back the skin of social life and illuminate the captivating details of desire and family underneath. Plenty of books are good; this book is alive.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Transphobia in Gender-Critical Feminist Ideology

Trans solidarity rally and march In Detransition, Baby, Torrey Peters draws attention to the views of feminists who discriminate against transgender women through the thoughts of Reese. "In old books she had read," Peters writes, "Reese remembered women saying that if your husband doesn't beat you, he doesn't love you, a notion that horrified the feminist in Reese but fit with a perfect logic in one of the dark crevices of her heart. And yeah, liberal feminists—especially the trans-hating variety—would have a field day with her. She supposed that they would accuse her of misogyny, of being a secret man, a Trojan horse in slutty lingerie who sought to recapitulate under the guise of womanhood all the abusive tropes that they, in the second wave, had sought ...

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