Compelling and intricate, Peters’ novel demonstrates that transgenderism and pro-abortion policy are incompatible, especially when human life follows heterosexual normativity.
Readers may not be able to follow the 337 pages of Peters’ novel unless they remember the gender recognized at birth of the main characters. Reese is a biological male who passes himself off as a woman; Amy is also a biological male, who passed himself off as a woman but then detransitioned to his gender recognized at birth and is now known as Ames.
Knowing this makes the rest of the novel easy to understand, despite several passages and pop culture references which include verbose academic language or items not in common knowledge but well-known to LGBTQ activists.
The plot is simple. Ames wants Reese to be the mother of the child he fathered with his boss, Katrina. Katrina spends most of the novel wondering if she should acquiesce to Ames’ demands or abort the child. While the novel ends ambiguously, the final literary evidence may swing more to a pro-life ending, for Ames, Katrina, and Reese
are together, and miles from each other, their thoughts turning to themselves, then turning to the baby, each in her own way contemplating how her tenuous rendition of womanhood has become dependent upon the existence of this little person, who is not yet, and yet may not be. (337)
Thematically, this narrative examines transgender philosophy, its refusal to accept heterosexual normativity, and whether adopting a pro-life position is possible for transgender persons.
Ames suffers from a warped idea of what it means to be a father, because
fatherhood remained the one affront to his gender that he still couldn’t stomach without a creeping sense of horror. To become a father by his own body, as his father was to him, and his father before him, and on and on, would sentence him to a lifetime of grappling with that horror. (25-6)
“Affront”? “Horror”? “Sentence”? Who teaches such a negative view of a man’s opportunity to generate and protect human life?
Perhaps Ames’ negative view of fatherhood is based on his having been a mere sexual object for those men who gratified themselves when he posed as a trans woman, Amy. His reflection about those encounters disgusts as much as it generates sympathy:
After sex, the spell could dissipate, and she saw herself as she truly was: a boy, lying dazed on his back on a stranger’s bed with a dress hiked up to the waist, a string of his own pre-cum on his thigh, and a stranger lifting himself off the bed to sheepishly pull off a reservoir-filled condom. (151)
At novel’s end, the ruminations of being a mother to Katrina’s unborn child lead Reese to a conclusion which most transgender political activists would abhor. Reese
had given the baby up to Katrina, and now, it was with dismay—perhaps even horror—that she had to acquiesce that the baby’s mother had the right to abort. That another woman could end the existence of a baby that she had come to imagine, softly, tentatively, at the center of her future life. She had found her emotions and, in the two days since Ames told her about the abortion, had veered in the direction of pro-life politics. Never before had she found her thoughts trending to the personhood of an unborn child. (334-5)
Peters has written a novel which is truly controversial—not because of the inclusion of a transgender theme (every author does that ad nauseam). Unlike other transgender authors who think they must support an anti-life ideology, what Peters contributes to the genre is the possibility that a group of persons steeped in transgender practice are able to consider supporting an unborn child instead of killing him or her.
This was the last of five novels I examined for a presentation before a scholarly audience on recent transgender literature and the right-to-life issues. My recommendation is that, while it is not necessary to purchase this novel (especially not from Amazon, which supports pro-abortion politicians), pro-life readers may want to borrow it from their local libraries instead to enjoy a delightful narrative which counters the anti-life focus of most LGBTQ and, specifically, transgender fiction.