Wayne Maines speaks about “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family”
Location: Wayne Maines speaks about “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family”
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When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.
Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately, Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.
Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same.
About the speaker
Wayne Maines is the proud father of identical twins, one a boy and one a girl. He is an Air Force veteran, typically a reserved and conservative man, whose values and beliefs were tested when one of his twin boys said, “Daddy, I am really a girl.” He has recently started to share short stories about his family’s journey and his experiences discovering the joys that come from listening and learning from his young children. The Maines family has been recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine (2011 Roger Baldwin Award) and by Equality Maine (2012 P.E. Pentlarge Award) for their extraordinary efforts toward ending discrimination against transgender Mainers. He has been a public speaker at the national and state level in his chosen field of work. Now he has turned his attention to using these same skills to help others understand, accept, and support transgender youth.