The poems in Annette Grunseth’s chapbook, Becoming Trans-Parent: One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition, are frank, informative, full of feeling and love. From the family’s time-stopped shock to mother and daughter sharing clothes, a mother’s fierce defense of her daughter to those who exclude her, and advocacy for all in her daughter’s situation, Grunseth underscores the need for the family to make the journey too:
Truth is, 41 percent of transgender people lose hope, and attempt to end their lives
unless they get love (the unconditional kind), she says in “Gender Dysphoria.” These are fine poems that every one of us can learn from.
–Robin Chapman, Professor emerita of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, and poet, author of Six True Things.
Annette Grunseth’s book of poems, Becoming Trans-Parent, is a guidebook for the heart…at once exquisitely personal and tenderly universal. The questions are clear, the answers are not so transparent, regarding pronouns, restrooms, dress, dignity, health issues and social justice. These poems are about transformation and love and love and transformation. Thank you, Annette, I am a better person for having read Becoming Trans-Parent.
–Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2011-2012)
Annette Grunseth is an advocate, a poet, and a mother. The advocate in her conveys information: what words mean – words like safety, and dignity. The poet in her asks us to consider the milkweed pod, the Monarch, chrysalis & transformation. As a mother, she wants us to know her daughter is her inspiration, editor and reader. And as human beings, with our own loves & stories & shared bonds, how can we not listen?
Poets name things – it’s what we do. In one of my favorite poems in the collection, Grunseth asks us to consider naming. Her daughter selects her new name, “derived from your mother-roots” and this gift, the power of this choice is palpable in the poem; but the poet doesn’t let the reader off here (or herself). In this poem, titled “Naming My Grief,” the poet admits, “yet the day you told us the court approved your female name, / I cried that night in bed.” Moving from one identity to another, whatever the context, requires some loss, some grief. A loving parent, whatever the context, grieves this moment, and celebrates the child’s casting off of the past self & moving on to the future. Over and over and over in Becoming Trans-Parent we are reminded what it means to love, to learn, to be honest with ourselves, to be human.
–C.Kubasta, author of Of Covenants and All Beautiful & Useless