Becoming Nicole Cover
Becoming Nicole

1. The subtitle of Becoming Nicole is “The Transformation of an American Family.” In what ways do you think the members of the Maines family transformed themselves over the course of the book? How has the definition of the “average” American family transformed over time?

2. Along the same lines, Amy Ellis Nutt asserts that “the definition, the descriptive behaviors, the look and feel and experience of gender have all changed over time.” Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, how would you say these things have shifted over your lifetime?

3. How did Kelly’s upbringing affect her expectations for her own children? How did Wayne’s? Discuss how parental expectations can help or hurt children.

4. What was it about The Little Mermaid that made Wyatt/Nicole identify with the character? Were there fictional characters who particularly resonated with you as a child?

5. Discuss the power of clothes and other external gender markers. What aspects of your own appearance do you feel are most important to your identity?

6. What challenges did Jonas face in having a transgender sister? How were those similar to and different from the challenges any twin would face?

7. Nicole and Jonas went into “stealth mode” for two years of middle school. Do you think this was ultimately the right decision for the family? Can you think of other examples of “stealth mode” or “passing” in history?

8. What was the turning point for Wayne in accepting his daughter? Why do you think it was harder for him than it was for Kelly?

9. As part of his campaign to defeat Maine’s bathroom bill, LD 1046, Wayne wrote, “We have tried to live our lives privately, but the stakes are now too high to sit on the sidelines.” In what ways do you think an individual can make a difference politically?

10. The author shows that our knowledge of gender and sexuality has come a long way in the past fifty years. What surprised you most to learn? What questions do you still have?