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Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters review – a comedy of manners

This irresistible novel about wanting a child makes a careful distinction between ‘being trans’ and ‘doing trans’

If the title of Torrey Peters’s irresistible debut novel Detransition, Baby sounds to you like a seductive invitation to slip back into a previous gender identity, you will be ill prepared for an altogether more uncanny seduction: the calming whispers of bourgeois realism.

Perhaps Detransition, Baby is the first great trans realist novel? Witty, elegant and rigorously plotted, Peters’s book breezily plays with the structural conventions of literary realism. The title is not so much an invitation to rechange one’s gender, as a brutally condensed summary of the novel’s plot, which concerns Ames (formerly “Amy”), who has detransitioned, and Reese, a trans woman who wants a baby. The two of them enter into a compact with Ames’s pregnant partner, Katrina, who initially doesn’t know about her husband’s history as a trans it-girl, to conceive and raise a child.

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