tv Interview with Amy Ellis Nutt CSPAN October 8, 2016 3:30pm-3:47pm EDT
diplomatic cables. wrap up tv in prime time at 11:00, nobel prize economist on the future of the euro. that all happens tonight on c-span2's book tv.ve >> here is the cover of her book, becoming nicole. ms. nutt who is nicole?e? >> this is a child of age 2 and a half identified as a girl and when i say identified as a girl, didn't say to her parents i think i'm a girl. said, when do i get to be a girl, when do i get to looked like a girl and believed she was a girl and two middle-class
ordinary parents living in the state of maine needed to figure out what that was about. .. and the here to row of the -- the hero of the book is really the mother kelly. these twins were adopted at birth. kelly knew there were two things that were most important to her as a mother; make sure that her children were safe and happy. and she knew she could control the safe part. she had to understand the happy part because she also knew that this child was unhappy when she >> guest: you know, was really unsure about who this child was and resisted it. but kelly was determined. and so she did very early what a lot of us do, and she googled the words boys who like girls' toys.
and that became the beginning of her odyssey to understanding. she had never heard the word transgender, and so it began -- she began to become a student of it and to understand it to try and bring her husband into it. it took her longer to do that. it took him longer. but he's probably the one who undergoes the most transformation in the book. he's now someone who goes out and gives talks to people about transgender kids, transgender children and being transgender and especially is helping to try to work with fathers to understand their children. >> host: what about the other twin boy? be. >> guest: jonas is a remarkable kid. they are both now entering their sophomore year at college at two different branches of the university of maine. what was wonderful about jonas is that jonas really probably knew before anyone, you know? kids would come up to him, and they would sometimes say to himu you know, what is it like to have a transgender sister. and, you know, he didn't know.
he just knew he had a twin that was really a girl, not a boy. and when jonas, when they were both very young, basically said to his father, dad, you know, face it, you have a son and a daughter. and it was kind of a wake-up call for wayne to realize, you know, out of the moths of babes -- mouths of babes. here is my child telling me that his brother is really his sister. so jonas had to go on a journey too to helping other people understand, to be protective of his sister when she was discriminated against in the fifth grade and bullied and then told by staff at their middle school that she would have to use the teachers' restroom and not the girls' room. she'd already changed her name, dressing as a girl, for all intents and purposes was nicole. and it was tough on jonas. he had to be sort of big brother, and at the same time he
said to me very profoundly, you know, i'm a kid, and i have a sixth grade vocabulary, so it's hard to talk to people to try and make them understand.o so he, he struggled with it too. but they're very close. they're both very different in a lot of ways, and they're each one another's best friends and protectors. >> host: what was the first ste in becoming nicole? was it clothes, was it name? >> guest: you know, i think it really was -- i mean, the first evidence to the parents, certainly, were the clothes. cls nicole, born wyatt, loved to, you know, she would pull herer shirt over her head to make it look like it was long hair. she wanted to wear her mother's jewelry.o she wanted to pretend, you know, that things were dresses. these were, obviously, the first signs, you know?
and a lot of kids go through these phases, but this was consistent and this wasnt, and h constant. and then there were things saying, you know, she actually would say, daddy, when does my penis fall off. so this was a child who wasn't saying i feel like i'm a girl. this was a child who i knew she was a girl. but couldn't understand, being a child, why people were treating her like a boy. >> host: when did surgery happen? >> guest: surgery happened last summer after she graduated high school.ed nicole was one of the first cases of an american child at the children's gender clinic in boston, the first one in this country established in 2007 under dr. norman spack, her doctor, was one of the first tof have puberty suppressed so that
she had time to go through the psychological tests, had the time to dress and act and be a girl in order to know more certain that this was who she was. and then when puberty was going to start for her, they could se in her twin brother when it was starting, that was when they started her on estrogen. and so she wasn't going to have the surgery until high school. she wanted to do out before college. this is a very, very important step.ve so many people go through puberty, and when they decide to make the transition, don't make it until they're adults. it's especially difficult for female transgender people because, you know, they've gone through male puberty. and surgically, a lot has to be done. she didn't have to face that problem. she went through female puberty at the right time. so she's been able to have the right development and at the right time as other young women.
and she's a beautiful young woman and is happy and thrilled and has a boyfriend and is about as normal a kid as you could come across. and it's the beauty of this family because they're ordinary in spom ways -- in so many ways, they're extraordinary in how they dealt with the situation.si but they're ordinary in being, you know, an every man family. they're your mother and father, they're your sister and your brother. it would be hard not to identify with this family. and i think to the degree that that, you know, can normalize for people what it means to be transgender and what it means to have a transgender member in a family, then i think it spreads the messaging and educates people just by their presence. >> host: amy ellis nutt, you're a science writer at the washington post. how did you find this story? >> guest: the story actually found me, honestly. it was first published in the
newspaper, in the boston globe, page 1, in december of 2011.1. mary barron, the executiverr editor of -- marty barron, the executive editor of the washington post was hen the executive editor of "the boston globe," very far-seeing editor who promoted this story. i read it, i was fascinated by it. and i was contacted -- i didn't know they were being represented at the time by someone i had known 30 years earlier in boston. and she reached out to me because the family was getting a lot of publicity9 requests. they were uncomfortable with doing anything more than that. they wanted to protect their kids and have them grow up, you know, have them a normal teenage life, but they knew that down the line after they graduated high school, they would want their story to be told.au she contacted me because she knew i'd written a book. so the story came to me. but i remember saying to myy agent,s this is fascinating. and the fact that they were identical twins is an important aspect in trying to explain the science and what we know about the brain and gender.
i said, do you think anyone's going to want to read a book about a transgender kid? that was five years ago. the world has changed dramatically since then. honestly, it's a serendipitous publication of this. >> host: what's the estimated population of transgender in the u.s.? >> guest: honestly, the best estimates are grossly inadequate. the ones that you read most frequently are between 7-800,000. those figures are based on 10-year-old surveys of three states. it's impossible to know, itmp really is. and i'm waiting for the, you know, for the next sort of stage of when we can get a better estimate of that. but, of course, we face the same problems in people notop identifying as transgender or not wanting to identify even on surveys. so, honestly, i think we, we really don't know. but what i learned from doing this book is i'd always thought the phrase gender spectrum was
very nice, politically correct, lovely phrase, but it really is true that this is not exceedingly rare. 1 in 200 kids are born with atypical genitalia. there are many, many different kinds of variations of chromosomal dna.mo people can be born xyy, xxy, insensitive to androgen, you know, to testosterone or not. so there is no average male or female. avera we really are a spectrum in many ways.ea and so i learned that as we are beginning to learn the science of this, your anatomy is set in utero at six weeks. we believe, scientists believe your gender identity process in the brain does not occur until six months in utero. so you think of all the things that can happen between six
weeks and six months that affect the brain, and this is why identical twins can have the exact same dna, but they get different chemical messages from the mother even where they're positioned in the womb. and the degree of variation because of things the mother takes in from the environment that affects the distribution of hormones, the variability in how our brains are set is nearly infinite. >> host: so what kind of testing did wyatt maines have to go through to become nicole maines? >> guest: yeah.co >> host: before even surgery happened or anything like that. >> guest: you know, back then it was before really, honestly,wa genetic testing.c so what she went through was mostly was psychological tests. and also physiological tests, you know, to understand, you know, her anatomy.
but it was mostly a series of psychological tests.os and this is one thing why they, you know, delay puberty and suppress puberty so that the child can live as the gender that they believe they are for as long as possible to be fully confident that that's who they are.ib look, there are a lot of kids who, you know, test boundaries and, you know, boys that like to dress up as girls and girls that were tomboys, and these are temporary. these are things that they're exe peoplerring. not all children who do that are transgender. but a child who says at the age of 2 when do i get to be a girl and says it constantly and consistently, that's a transgender child. >> host: amy ellis nutt is the author of "becoming nicole: the transformation of an american family." she's also the co-author of "the teenaged brain: a neuroscientist survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults."
won the pulitzer prize while working at the newark star-ledger for what? >> guest: it was for a series called the wreck of the lady mary. it was a story, true story, based on the sinking of a scallop boat off the coast of cape may in 2009. six of the seven crew died. the seventh survived. the accident happened so quickly, that he didn't know what happened. so the story was, on one hand, a narrative about what happened to these men and their families, but also an investigation.r i basically make the case, i think it's a strong case, that they were the victims of a high seas hit and run by a container ship, german container ship that didn't stop. and it's a mystery and it's an investigation, and it's a story about people. >> host: amy ellis nutt also spent nine years as a
fact-checker at "sports "sports illustrated".sp >> guest: that's right. >> host: "becoming nicole: the transformation of an american family," here it is. >> booktv tapes hundreds of author programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we'll be covering this week. on tuesday at the cato institute in washington, d.c., the goldwater institute's timothy sander if will weigh in on the differences between rights and privileges. then on wednesday joe dolce will examine the history, science and economics of marijuana at tattered cover bookstore in denver. friday we'll be back in the nation's capital at center for american progress where journalist john judas will provide a history of populist movements in the united states. and next saturday and sunday we're live from the 28th annual southern festival of books in nashville with all-draw author programs. all-day author programs.
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