Being Emily discussion questions and resources
Thanks to the wonderful people over at RECLAIM for coming up with these questions and providing a training for their book circle facilitators. Please check out RECLAIM’s website and don’t hesitate to contact them with questions or support if you want to host a book circle in your community. RECLAIM works to increase access to mental health support so that queer and trans youth may reclaim their lives from oppression in all its forms.
Being Emily Discussion Questions
What was your reaction when Chris(Emily) came out to Claire as transgender? Would you have responded differently than Claire did?
In these chapters we see both Claire and Chris(Emily) struggling. How are their difficulties the same, and how are they different?
In chapter 8 we meet Natalie. How does she compare to the portrayal of transsexuals we see in mainstream culture?
How do Dr. Webber and Dr. Mary Mendel compare as therapists for Emily? Which one more closely matches what you were expecting a psychologist to be like?
In chapter 13 we meet the gender support group that Natalie attends. Did the diversity of the individuals there surprise you?
Assuming that you identify as cisgender (identify with the biological sex you were born with), how would you feel going out in public as a member of the opposite sex?
Part 2: How do those feelings compare to Emily’s experiences of being out in public as a man and then as a woman?
Chapters 20 – 22
Emily comes out to her parents – how do you feel about their reactions? Do you imagine these are typical?
In these chapters we see Claire, Dr. Mendel, and Natalie supporting Emily. How would Emily’s experience be different without any one of them present?
Discuss the evolution in Emily’s parent’s acceptance of her. Did the difference in her father and mother’s reactions surprise you?
Did this story have a happy ending?
Which character in this story did you like and/or identify with the most?
Did reading this book change how you view transsexual individuals? Do you think this book accurately portrayed what it’s like to be in that position?
RECLAIM’s Book Circle Facilitator Guide/Questions
Our happy band of volunteers at RECLAIM came up with some questions to get you thinking critically. You’re welcome to simply examine your own thoughts, use these questions in your book circle, or simply make a paper airplane with the paper they’re printed on.
- Before reading this book, what situations in them would you have found strange/’not normal’? What scenarios are you still uncomfortable with?
2a. What kind of biases exist in faith communities concerning gender & sexual minorities?
2b. What kind of biases exist in the GLBT communities concerning faith communities?
- What would you do if someone in your book circle asked you a question about transgender related issues, and you didn’t know the answer?**
- What would you do when a well-meaning person drops a slur or says something hurtful?
5.Consider the book you just read- how would this story be different if the main character was a different race, religion, economic class, or identified as gender fluid/genderqueer?
- How would you explain the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation?
** It’s okay to say you don’t know! Also, check RECLAIM’s website (under “links”) for resources for transgender and GLB youth.