Becoming Nicole

by

Amy Ellis Nutt

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Becoming Nicole: Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After a difficult period of highs and lows, Jonas starts to come out of his shell. During the summer following his freshman year, he takes college-level courses, wins a poetry contest, and is part of the school’s winning Model United Nations team. He is a deeply reflective person and wants to make sure that his life has meaning. He is starting to feel a sense of who he is, particularly through theater.
After feeling like so much of his life has revolved around Nicole, Jonas starts to develop his own identity and gain a new level of confidence too. Jonas’s transformation is not one of gender, but he also goes through a similar process of growing up and transforming into a more fully actualized version of himself.
Themes
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
One day, Wayne is asked to be a keynote speaker for a Civil Rights Day program at a middle school in South Portland. He asks Jonas to join him as his “roadie.” At the presentation, some of the students ask Jonas what it’s like to grow up with a transgender sister. He tells them to imagine trying to explain being transgender with a “sixth-grade vocabulary.” Wayne is struck by Jonas’s self-awareness. 
Jonas highlights why education about these issues is so necessary, even at a young age. Given the vocabulary to describe his sister, Jonas might have been able to help others understand her as well.
Themes
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
On June 12, 2013, the lawyers from GLAD argue the appeal of the Maineses case in Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court. They want to make sure that the judges understand that Nicole had been forced to use a separate restroom from other girls, even when staff had deemed the boys’ restroom inappropriate for her. Nicole makes statements to the press about wanting transgender kids to be able go to school and not worry about being treated unfairly.
Nicole takes yet another stand in order to advocate for herself, but Nutt makes it clear that Nicole and the lawyers from GLAD are also thinking about the larger implications of the case on other transgender students in schools across Maine.
Themes
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
On August 12, 2013, California governor Jerry Brown signs AB 1266, making California the first state to establish a law aligning bathroom use with gender identity. Conservative opponents had argued that the law was trying to bring about a “genderless future,” and that separating sexes in public facilities allows for “camaraderie among those who share the whole life experience of manhood or womanhood.” To Nicole, these arguments make no sense. The Maineses argue that the female experience is exactly what Nicole had been denied, and that she didn’t want a genderless society. It was about equality and recognizing her for the gender she was. 
Nutt notes toward the end of the book that transgender rights have quickly evolved, even from the time that she began writing this book. The dates here demonstrate that Nicole’s case stands at the tipping point of those rights, as people start to understand more and more what it means to be transgender. The arguments against California’s bathroom law demonstrate ignorance, on the other hand, as opponents don’t seem to understand what it is transgender people like Nicole are truly fighting for.
Themes
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
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