Becoming Nicole


Amy Ellis Nutt

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Themes and Colors
Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation Theme Icon
Knowledge vs. Ignorance Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and the Scientific Community Theme Icon
Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Social Expectations Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Becoming Nicole, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender Identity, Expression, and Transformation

Becoming Nicole follows the childhood of a transgender girl named Nicole Maines (who is born with biologically male anatomy, as Wyatt Maines) and her journey to understand herself and fight discrimination. As Wyatt grows up, he innately understands that his gender identity does not match his outward appearance, nor does it seem to match how people treat or think of him. As Nutt tracks Wyatt’s transformation to Nicole and the change in Nicole’s family and…

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Knowledge vs. Ignorance

As Wyatt is growing up, there is a fundamental lack of understanding about what it means to be transgender. The topic is generally taboo to speak about, and therefore there isn’t much information on transgender people—either anecdotally or scientifically. As Nutt recounts Kelly’s trials in attempting to find out more about what her son is experiencing, she proves that a lack of knowledge has led to ignorance, discrimination, and even dire consequences for transgender…

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Gender, Sex, and the Scientific Community

Nutt, who has a background as a science writer, makes it a project of her book to remedy the potential ignorance surrounding transgender people among her readers, as there is still little scientific data or common knowledge about being transgender. She shows how complicated both gender and sex can be, and how frequently they can fall outside the binary categories of man and woman. Nutt brings in scientific data to help people understand that gender…

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Discrimination, Advocacy, and Pride

Nicole and other transgender people face an immense amount of discrimination, to the point that Nicole and her family decide that it is better to “go stealth” and not reveal her gender identity to her peers when she moves to a new middle school. But not only does this hurt her ability to be fully open with her new friends, it also prevents her from being her own advocate and working to gain the rights…

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Family, Love, and Social Expectations

At the heart of Nicole Maines’s story is the Maines family. Part of the difficulties the family finds with Nicole growing up transgender is the fact that this disrupts her father Wayne’s idea of what a “normal” family looks like. But what her mother Kelly understands innately, and what Wayne eventually comes to realize, is that family is less about living up to social norms and more about unconditional love, support, and even…

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