Torrey Peters: Detransition, Baby
- Lynsey May
- 5 August 2021
As she prepares for an event about modern families at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, we review Torrey Peters' debut novel
The arch and playful title betrays the depth of feeling it signifies, making it an excellent primer for Detransition, Baby the book. Torrey Peters' debut novel has three central characters: Reese, a trans woman who deeply wants to experience motherhood; Ames, her ex-partner who has detransitioned and living as a man; Katrina, Ames' current, cis partner (and boss) who discovers she is pregnant.
The pregnancy is a shock to all involved, not least because it was assumed impossible by Ames at the very least, thanks to five years of HRT treatment before detransitioning. The thought of being thrust into the role of father is a difficult one, bringing many complicated feelings about his relationship with Reese and the reasons for detransitioning in the first place. Ames' solution to the situation – and his jumbled emotions – is to suggest a new kind of blended family, one that would allow them to raise the baby together. Peters deals with the ensuing fallout with perception, compassion and a wicked sense of humour.
The book examines what it means to be a parent from a multitude of angles and asks questions that are both specific and universal; and asks them in such a way that you barely notice you're working to find the answers. Detransition, Baby is a book about trans experience, yes, but it is more so a novel about experience and identity, full stop. It is also an entertaining and enthralling read, with plenty of wry commentary, the occasional side eye at all sorts of societal assumptions, and a great deal of insight.
Torrey Peters will be appearing in an online and in-person event, Edinburgh College Of Art, Saturday 14 August, 5.30pm; Pay What You Can online, £14 (£12) in-person.