Becoming Nicole

by

Amy Ellis Nutt

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Becoming Nicole: Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In September 2012, the proceedings begin for the Maineses’ lawsuit. Nicole is only identified as “Susan Doe” and never appears as a witness or at the counsel’s table, but the Maineses’ lawyers from GLAD decide to use photographs of Nicole in the fifth and sixth grade to show a “snapshot of a sweet-faced, ordinary nine-year-old girl, except that Nicole wasn’t an ordinary nine-year-old girl.”
The picture of Nicole helps inform the judge’s understanding of Nicole’s gender identity. Like her name change, seeing Nicole as an “ordinary nine-year-old girl” helps people recognize that in almost all ways, Nicole is like any other girl and should have the same rights as those other girls.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
The proceedings finish after two hours, and a ruling could take several months. No matter who wins, the Maineses can always appeal. Additionally, that morning, the Maineses learned that Bob Lucy had allowed students to cheat on a standardized exam. When the Orono school district found out, it eliminated his position and Lucy was forced to resign from a new position he had taken in Bangor.
Even though Lucy’s termination was not due to his discriminatory policies, his removal surely allows for some sense of vindication on the part of the Maineses because the schools were able to recognize Lucy as morally corrupt, a side of him that manifested in his discrimination toward Nicole.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
Two months later, the decision comes out. The judge writes, “The court is not unsympathetic to [the girl’s] plight,” but finds that the school did not harass Nicole, nor was it deliberately indifferent to the harassment she experienced from Jacob. It is a victory for the school board. The Maineses are crushed, but Nicole and Jonas immediately press to appeal to the state supreme court.
Even though the court does not make the decision that the Maineses had hoped for, Nicole and Jonas are both adamant about continuing the case. They recognize its wider importance and understand that they cannot give up advocating for Nicole and other trans people.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
In April 2012, Wayne and Nicole visit a satellite campus of the University of Maine for their annual Rainbow Ball. Wayne is amazed at the diversity of gay, transgender, and genderqueer youth all around him, dancing and having a good time. He notes “everyone [is] different and no one care[s] how or why.”
Nutt shows why this community and its pride are so important. Despite everyone’s differences, their different sexualities and gender identities, people’s attitudes toward one other are very open and accepting. It serves as a model for society, in which everyone accepts one another and treats each other equally, regardless of differences.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
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In August 2013, Wayne finds something that Nicole had written on her Facebook page. She had watched an episode of Family Guy in which a character had sex with a transgender person, and after the character found out he screamed and vomited. Nicole posts about her reaction to the episode: how she thought she would never find someone who would want to be with her. Several friends comment, calling out the transphobia in television. Wayne’s heart bleeds, and he comments on her page that he loves her with all his heart, and that he knows someday she will find someone who will love her as much as he does.
Nutt contrasts the episode at the Rainbow Ball with this story, which demonstrates how far society still has to go to fully accept different kinds of people. This again emphasizes the need for positive role models and storylines in the media for transgender people. As a result of this episode, Nicole feels like no one can love her, but Wayne immediately dispels this idea and affirms how much he and other people care for her.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Social Expectations Theme Icon