Becoming Nicole

by

Amy Ellis Nutt

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Becoming Nicole: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
There is one large difference in the school when Wyatt starts fifth grade: this section of the school has multi-stall bathrooms divided by gender, which represents a “psychosocial leap of enormous proportions” for Wyatt. The use of bathrooms is fraught with controversy for transgender people, who typically prefer to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify. 
Using the girls’ bathroom is a natural step for Wyatt, as it aligns with his gender expression and identity. As Nutt notes in the following chapter, the only outward thing that is still “boyish” about Wyatt is his name. In all other ways he is a girl, and so it makes sense that his bathroom use would match that identity.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Erhardt submits a Section 504 form to the Special Services office of the board of education so that Wayne and Kelly can be involved in meetings with teachers and school staff to evaluate Wyatt’s needs. The 504 is used to prevent discrimination against any children with disabilities or impairments. At first, Kelly’s not sure it's appropriate, but Erhardt convinces Kelly that his gender dysphoria diagnosis qualifies him for it. The most important result of their first meeting is that all agree Wyatt should use the girls’ bathroom.
At first, it seems like Wyatt’s use of the girls’ bathroom is protected by the Section 504 form, and it is notable that the school staff seems completely on board with this at the moment. But neither Wyatt’s peers nor the school administration will prove to be so accepting, demonstrating that just because there are protocols of accommodation in place does not mean that others will conform to those guidelines.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
Kelly also petitions the Maine Principals Association, which regulates team sports, so that Wyatt can play on the girls’ softball team rather than the boys’ baseball team.  She educates the softball organization and consults with an attorney in order to explain that Wyatt’s rights are protected by the state of Maine. Kelly also writes to the regional Little League office, referring to Wyatt with feminine pronouns and nouns for the first time: “Our daughter will be joining her team.” Two weeks later, the regional office approves the request for Wyatt to play.
Kelly’s successful efforts to allow Wyatt to play on the girls’ team are important: first, her shift in language in reference to Wyatt is notable. It demonstrates a shift in the way she thinks about Wyatt, and thus the way she is asking the Association to think about Wyatt. She is not asking for her son to join the team; she is asking for her daughter to join the team. This language allows for them to better understand Wyatt’s situation and approve her petition.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Wyatt is excited to play on the girls’ team but is worried about having to wear a cup and an athletic supporter. He tells Dr. Holmes his concerns about how he is anxious about being different than the other girls underneath it all. Dr. Holmes understands his concerns and tells him how special it is that “he knows who he is in spite of all the evidence.” Before Wyatt leaves her office, he gives Dr. Holmes a big hug.
Dr. Holmes’s ability to understand Wyatt’s situation and to lift him up rather than put him down for his identity proves key. She gives him a sense of pride and of feeling special by accepting his gender identity despite the concerns and taunts that he may face.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
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