“Paralian: Not Just Transgender” by Liam Kienk— An Honest and Challenging Life

paralianKienk, Liam. “Paralian: Not Just Transgender”, Troubadour, 2016.

An Honest and Challenging Life

Amos Lassen

The word “Paralian” comes from the Greek and is defined as one who lives near the sea. Here “Paralian” is a memoir that is related through the author’s relationship to water and we are with writer Liam Kienk’s journey as he attempts to find out who he really is. Like others, his life has been filled with adversaries. At just five months old, he was adopted from an orphanage and began a journey that led him to various individuals who influenced his journey. Today he lives in Switzerland with his wife. He remembers that as early as three years old that he was born into the body of a girl while he introduced himself to others as a boy. By exploring the world, he was able to

find a home inside his own body and spirit. He was determined and never gave up and always tried to find positivity in each life experience. He has written his story and lived his life with courage, resilience and dedication. We are with Liam on his journey from Germany to Switzerland to the United States, the Maldives to Macau. He deals with difficult life situations with optimism, grace and style.

Liam’s life has been filled with different careers and he has traveled all over the world looking for the place where he feel totally at home. He had to find out who he really is and this is what kept him going— he wanted to know not only about himself but about the world around him and about the cultures that he became part of. Now Liam lets us know that he has conquered another obstacle, that of being an author. “I am dreaming of becoming a full-time author. I am dreaming of giving TED talks and the like in the future, of sharing my positive outlook on life without being patronizing, political or esoteric, nor demanding sympathy. Maybe I can even make a very, very tiny bit of difference in a few people’s lives.”

In the beginning of this review I mentioned that water is important in understanding Liam’s life. As I reached the end of the book, I understood that Liam’s waters include the river where he grew up, the oceans that he crosses during his journey and the place where he eventually works. He went on his journey so that he could deal with the disability of childhood, issues with his adoptive parents including marriages and divorces and his own gender dysphoria. He dealt with trauma and upset but he is never defeated and he manages to overcome the difficulties he has had to face and manages to turn a story of hardship into a story of hope. Also, it has been only lately that we can read of those transitioning from female to male and this is one of the highlights of the book. This is not just a coming-of-age story of a transgender man, on a journey; it is a book that can help and inspire. Yes, it is a tale of overcoming obstacles, of finding oneself, of friendship and family, and loving life and an exploration of what being human is all about.

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