The Unfinished Dollhouse

The Unfinished Dollhouse

A Memoir of Gender and Identity

Book - 2017
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No mother is prepared for the moment when a child comes out to her as a person whose physical gender is out-of-keeping with his emotional and psychological gender-identity. In Michelle Alfano's intimate memoir, she recounts her experience as the mother of a transgender child. The central metaphor of The Unfinished Dollhouse tells the story: on Frankie's fourth birthday, her parents Michelle and Rob purchased a kit to create a beautiful dollhouse. Michelle imagined building the home, buying the tiny pieces of furniture and accessories to fill it and, more importantly, the times she and her daughter would spend constructing the perfect dollhouse - a fantasy of domestic and familial happiness. Frankie expressed no interest in such typically girlish pursuits because Frankie harboured a secret - a secret about gender. In the years to follow, Frankie's parents experienced an education in parenting a child transitioning from female to male - which pronouns to use, how to disclose the information to friends, family, school and how to deal with the reactions of all - some heartening, some surprising, some disappointing.
Publisher: Toronto :, Cormorant Books,, 2017
Description: 276 pages ; 20 cm
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781770864986
Branch Call Number: 306.768 Alf


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Apr 13, 2018

The author has requested that the following be posted in response to the comment in the posted summary that "Ultimately the author does not find peace of mind and acceptance of her new son" to encourage dialogue on the book and its topic.
"I am discouraged, as the author, by the mistaken impression of this reader that I have not accepted my son’s transition. While it is true that I struggled initially, I unequivocally accept his desire to live his life to his truest self. I urge others to read the entire book with an open heart and mind."

Apr 05, 2018

This memoir is an intensely emotional account of a mother struggling to accept the loss of her cherished daughter and to embrace a transgender son. It is a valuable read in that it provides an honest account of all the issues that erupt in an extended family when a member identifies as LGBTQ. For a more 'balanced' account of making the gender transition, read "At the broken places" by Mary and Donald Collins where the mother and transgender son write alternating chapters.


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Apr 05, 2018

While this memoir is primarily about the author's responses to her daughter's revealing that she wants to transition to male, the account expands to encompass the author's struggles with a miscarriage, infertility, the complexities and ultimate disappointment of adoption, and menopause - as well as pursuing a career. Ultimately the author does not find peace of mind and acceptance of her new son. The family lives in metropolitan Toronto, Canada, so the memoir provides insight to how the Canadian bureaucracy and public health system handles transgender needs. The author provides a glossary of transgender terminology which is very helpful.

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