Frankel applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, This Is How It Always Is, and reported the following:
The page 69 test never fails to blow my mind. Page 69 of This Is How It Always Is pretty perfectly encapsulates the issues at the heart of this book.Learn more about the book and author at Laurie Frankel's website.
This Is How It Always Is is about a family of five boys, the youngest of whom becomes a girl. On page 69, the parents first consult a therapist about what gender dysphoria means, especially in a family where the gender binary has already been pretty soundly rejected.
“What does that mean—acting like a girl?”In a lot of ways, this is what the book boils down to: Any kid would prefer rainbow-colored toes to toe-colored toes, and yet rainbow-colored toes are only considered normal or indeed permissible for half the population. Why? Answering that question, and figuring out what to do when you don’t and won’t and don’t want to conform, takes the other 334 pages.
“Oooh, good question. Well, it means any number of things, doesn’t it? Cultural expectations and proscriptions touch nearly every aspect of our lives but vary, also, for each individual, not to mention the usual social determinates such as—”
“I understand that,” Penn interrupted, “but if it’s so culturally determined and individually experienced, what do you mean when you say ‘dysphoric’? We’ve never said to him that he can’t play with his dolls or bake or wear a dress because only girls do those things. Absent any other influences, it’s obvious to me that any five-year-old faced with the choice of toe-colored toes or rainbow-colored toes would choose the latter. That’s normal. That’s not dysphoric. That doesn’t make him a girl. That makes him a kid.”
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