Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family, by Amanda Jetté Knox. Viking Canada, 2019. ISBN 9780735235175
The success of Amanda Jetté Knox’s book Love Lives Here suggests that in an age when hate seems to dominate the news and social media, people are thirsting for stories in which love triumphs. That’s what happens in this book. The title does not lie.
At the centre of it is Jetté Knox herself. Although she is humble enough to acknowledge her own failings and frequently deflects her accomplishments to her family – who are undoubtedly worthy – one still puts the book down with a great appreciation for how she managed under great duress to do the right thing.
When her trans daughter reveals her true identity to her parents, Jetté Knox whittles the situation they face down to the basics: her daughter has revealed something critical, she needs the support of her parents, their love for her is unconditional. This gives her the kind of clarity necessary to educate herself. What she finds is not always comfortable. The vulnerability of trans youth reminds her of her own difficult journey when she was young and the depression that brought her close to suicide. Perhaps it was her own past that informed the path she took, but even so not everyone is that clear headed.
The story out of Vancouver recently about the father who took his 14 year old trans son to court to halt his hormone therapy, despite the mother’s support, the opinion of medical professionals and the son’s pre-transition suicidal impulses, is a sad reminder that some parents will still choose litigation over love.
In contrast, Jetté Knox never attributes any fault to her daughter for being who she is. She sees the problem instead as how do I help my trans daughter survive and flourish in a trans phobic world.
Jetté Knox’s challenges do not end with her trans daughter. Her journey, and that of her family, was only beginning. This is a memoir of love, adaptability and ultimately being true to yourself. It is told with humour, humility and intelligence, and leaves one hoping that love can indeed win out in a hate filled world.