Becoming Nicole

by

Amy Ellis Nutt

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Becoming Nicole can help.

Becoming Nicole: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Nicole continues to use the staff bathroom at school, which doesn’t bother her too much. However, gradually she starts to feel as though she is being punished for something that Jacob had done. As the second half of the year begins, Nicole starts to use the girls’ restroom again without permission. Jacob notices soon after and starts to walk in with her. Later, Nicole is told that she shouldn’t have been using the girls’ bathroom, which makes her feel like the school is pointing out that she is not normal.
As Jacob’s bullying continues, Nutt demonstrates how the school becomes complicit in the discrimination that Nicole is facing. Not only is she given unequal treatment, in that she is forced to use the staff bathroom, but she is also punished and made to feel abnormal for the harassing behavior of another student.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Kelly tries to educate the school about transgender issues to help turn them around, but she slowly realizes that ignorance on the issues isn’t the only reason for the school’s stubbornness. She decides to file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that the school had violated the Maine Human Rights Act by excluding Nicole from the girls’ bathroom.
Kelly recognizes that the school’s bias goes past its ignorance on the issue at hand. Jacob’s behavior would presumably be unacceptable if Nicole were not transgender, but the unusual situation of her gender identity seems to stop them from punishing Jacob for his actions.
Themes
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
A few months earlier, Nicole had announced that there would be a father-daughter Valentine’s Day dance, and Wayne agreed to go. The dance is a family affair, and they all dress up. Wayne knows that he has been on a longer journey than anyone else in the family to accept Nicole. When they arrive, Wayne asks his daughter, “May I have this dance?” They glide together, finding their rhythm. At the end of the dance, Nicole says, “Thank you, Daddy.” He answers, “I love you, Nicole.”
Wayne accompanying Nicole to the Valentine’s Day dance demonstrates the kind of transformation that he himself has undergone in how he thinks of his daughter and her rights. Wayne is able to see that loving his daughter is more important than having a “normal” family, but he also has the added benefit of being able to be just like all the other fathers and daughters, dancing together proudly.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Social Expectations Theme Icon