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"A must-read for anyone who is trans or has trans family or friends." —Chase Ross, trans activist and speaker.
Revealing entries from the author's personal journals as well as interviews with his mother, brother, and friends lend remarkable depth to a groundbreaking memoir of change, loss, discovery, pain, and relief.
At the beginning of his physical transition from female to male, then-seventeen-year-old Skylar Kergil posted his first video on YouTube. In the months and years that followed, he recorded weekly update videos about the physical and emotional changes he experienced. Skylar's openness and positivity attracted thousands of viewers, who followed along as his voice deepened and his body changed shape. Through surgeries and recovery, highs and lows, from high school to college to the real world, Skylar welcomed others on his journey.
This is the story of what came before the videos and what happened behind the scenes. From early childhood memories to the changes and confusion brought by adolescence, Skylar reflects on coming of age while struggling to understand his gender. As humorous as it is heartbreaking and as informative as it is entertaining, this memoir provides an intimate look at the experience of transitioning from one gender to another. Skylar opens up about the long path to gaining his family's acceptance and to accepting himself, sharing stories along the way about smaller challenges like choosing a new name and learning to shave without eyebrow mishaps.
Before I Had the Words brings new meaning to the phrase "formative years."
“Every transition is unique. There are choices we all make every day that shape who we become. There is no right way or wrong way. There are no requirements for being transgender. Some people are transgender; until you hear their stories, you may not know what that means to them. I am still learning.”
About the Author
Skylar Kergil is a transgender activist, YouTube personality, singer-songwriter, and artist. His videos, which offer an honest and thorough look at the process of gender transition, have educated, uplifted, and inspired thousands. Skylar is a recipient of the Trevor Project Youth Innovator Award and lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
"Kergil’s openness and authenticity has made him a speaker who inspires hope, especially in young adults and their families, and this encouraging transition chronicle, distinguished by his eloquence and inclusion of other voices, will do the same." —Booklist
"The fact that the book offers so much hope after a clearly difficult childhood is truly remarkable . . . Written with openness and honesty that conveys much about Skylar's struggles, the book does a wonderful job of demystifying identity and normalizing differences. It is a beautiful book." —Foreword Reviews
"Before I Had the Words is candid, relatable, light-hearted, and maybe a little bit queer! Skylar is amazing at drawing the reader into his world; inspiring and educational." —Katie Rain Hill, author of Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition
"A must-read for anyone who is trans or has trans family or friends. This book looks deep into the memories of a trans man before he realizes he was trans. Everyone experiences life differently, and everyone transitions differently, but Kergil shares so many relatable stories that are sure to have you laughing, crying, and nodding the whole way through. It is important to look at the lives of trans people outside of transition—Before I Had the Words re-humanizes the trans experience." —Chase Ross, trans activist, speaker, and YouTuber (uppercaseCHASE1)
"Before I Had the Words left me speechless. Skylar takes the reader on an emotional journey through navigating his place in the world during his gender transition. It is truly inspirational and highlights the uniqueness of one's path to their authentic self, a necessary narrative in today's world." —Reed Wetmore, YouTuber
"Before I Had the Words is a beautiful balance of relatable, coming of age storytelling, spreading awareness for some of what many members of our community go through, and a source of education for those in and out of our community. Getting to know Skylar on a deeper level in this way had me experiencing a full range of emotions throughout. With each page I turned, I laughed with him. I got angry with him for his mistreatment. I cried and shared in his joy and newfound peace and acceptance, and freedom from his feelings of isolation. All the while, his acknowledgments of the differences even within our community are paramount—we are all different. We are all human. This book is a must read on so many levels, and perfect for all ages." —Malcolm Ribot, FTM Traveler (@gorillashrimp)