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Detransition, Baby
Cover of Detransition, Baby
Detransition, Baby
A Novel
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The lives of three women—transgender and cisgender—collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires in “one of the most...
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The lives of three women—transgender and cisgender—collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires in “one of the most...
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  • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The lives of three women—transgender and cisgender—collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires in “one of the most celebrated novels of the year” (Time)

    “Reading this novel is like holding a live wire in your hand.”—Vulture

    ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—The New York Times Book Review, NPR, New York Public Library, Esquire, Marie Claire, and Kirkus Reviews • Longlisted for The Women’s Prize • Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club Pick • New York Times Editors’ Choice


    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.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    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 fled from her own company, from her own solitude. Along with telling her how awful her cheating men were, her friends also told her that after two major breakups, she needed time to learn to be herself, by herself. But she couldn’t be alone in any kind of moderate way. Give her a week to herself and she began to isolate, cultivating an ash pile of loneliness that built on itself exponentially, until she was daydreaming about selling everything and drifting away on a boat toward nowhere. To jolt herself back to life, she went on Grindr, or Tinder, or whatever—­and administered ten thousand volts to the heart by chasing the most dramatic tachycardia of an affair she could find. Married men were the best for fleeing loneliness, because married men also didn’t know how to be alone. Married men were experts at being together, at not letting go, no matter what, until death do us part. With the pretense of setting the boundaries of “just an affair,” Reese would swan dive super deep, super hard. By telling herself it would just be a fling, she gave herself permission to fulfill every fetish the guy had ever dreamed of, to unearth his every secret hurt, to debase herself in the most lush, vicious, and unsustainable ways—­then collapse into resentment, sadness, and spite that it had been just a fling, because hadn’t she been brave enough and vulnerable enough to dive super deep, super hard?

    She saw herself as attractive, round face and full figure, but she didn’t pretend that she stopped traffic; nor did she frequently note people standing around to admire the harvests of her brain. But with the right kind of man, she bore a genius for drama. She could distill it and flame it like jet fuel when solitude chilled her bones.

    Her man this time was similar to her others. A handsome, married alpha-­type who put her on a leash in the bedroom. Only this one was better, because he was an HIV-­positive cowboy-­turned-­lawyer. He had a thing for trans girls and had seroconverted while cheating on his wife with a trans woman, and the wife had stayed with him, and now he was at it again with Reese. Wheeeee!

    “Did you bottom or something?” Reese had asked on their first date.

    “F*** no,” he said. “My doctors said I had a one in ten thousand chance to contract it from getting head. You figure that at least ten thousand blow jobs are happening every minute, but that one in ten thousand was me. Also, she gave me a lot of blow jobs.”

    “Cool,” said Reese, who knew that that explanation wasn’t factual, but had only really...

About the Author-

  • Torrey Peters is the author of the novellas Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker, which are available for free on her website. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and an MA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth. She grew up in Chicago and now lives in Brooklyn.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2020
    A wonderfully original exploration of desire and the evolving shape of family. Reese's specialty is horrible married men--and she has carefully analyzed all the reasons why. She is, in fact, exquisitely self-aware when it comes to her self-destructive tendencies. When her ex, Ames, asks her to be a second mother to the baby his lover, Katrina, is carrying, Reese knows exactly why she doesn't say no: She believes that motherhood will make her a real woman. Ames has issues of his own. Fatherhood is not a role he wants for himself--which is not to say that he doesn't want to be a parent. It's his hope that, by bringing Reese into their m�nage, he might make Katrina consider other, less binary, possibilities. Set in New York and peopled with youngish professionals (and folks who are, at least, professional-adjacent), this novel has the contours of a dishy contemporary drama, and it is that. What sets it apart from similar novels are the following details: Reese is a trans woman, and, when she and Ames were together, Ames was Amy and also a trans woman. Detransitioning--returning to the gender assigned at birth after living as another gender--is a fraught subject. People who change their minds about transitioning are often held up as cautionary tales or as evidence that trans identity is a phase or a sickness, not something real. Peters, a trans woman, knows this, and, in Ames, she has created a character who does not conform to any hateful stereotype. Ames is, like every other human, complicated, and his relationship to his own body and his own gender is just one of his complexities. Reese is similarly engaging. She's kind of a mess, but who isn't? There's no question that there will be much that's new here for a lot of readers, but the insider view Peters offers never feels voyeuristic, and 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 23, 2020
    Peters’s sharp comedy (after Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones) charts the shifting dynamics of gender, relationships, and family as played out in three characters’ exploration of trans femininity. Reese, a trans woman from the Midwest now living in New York City, is in the throes of an affair with a kinky, dominant, and married man. Ames, Reese’s ex who has detransitioned since their breakup three years earlier, is now with his boss, a divorced cis woman named Katrina. When Katrina gets pregnant, Ames must reckon with his gender once again. Katrina intends to get an abortion if Ames leaves her, and he comes up with a solution so crazy it just might work. He cannot be a father, but he can be a parent (“He knew, however, that Katrina didn’t have the queer background to allow for that distinction”), and Reese, more than anything, wants to be a mother; desperate, Ames asks Reese if she will be a co-mother; he also confesses to Katrina that he once lived as a woman. As Reese, Katrina, and Ames reckon with the possibility and difficulties of forming a family, their quick wit gets them through heavy scenes (Reese on Katrina’s “AIDS panic”: “How retro”). Peters conceives of a world so lovable and complex, it’s hard to let go. Agent: Kent Wolf, Neon Literary.

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