“At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces” by Mary Collins and Donald Collins— Wrestling with Differences

Collins, Mary and Donald Collins. “At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces”, Beacon Press, 2017.

Wrestling with Differences

Amos Lassen

A mother and son gives us a collaborative memoir as they both dealt with their differences and the son, Donald went through medical-treatment options to better align his body with his gender identity.

As a parent, Mary Collins didn’t agree with her trans son’s decision to physically alter his body, although she supported his right to realize himself as a person. She lets us into her mind and explains her emotional mindset as her daughter was in the process of becoming her son. She felt she had lost a daughter as Donald activated his “authentic self.” Both mother and son fought to get the rights that each felt they deserved and as they do, they have a lot to say. What we must realize is that when one member of a family transitions to another gender, the entire family goes through a transition as well.

What we really get here is a wonderful addition to transgender literature that is totally inaccessible. This is a brave look at both mother and son and of a mother learning to see her child as he seems himself. We get two conflicting points of view that place us in the middle of what is going on with the family and we see that two people who have strong and deep disagreements are able to love and respect each other. We are taken into the stress of discovering where a person best fits and then how that person can get the world to see him as he sees himself. Below are the table of contents:

Table of Contents

Authors’ Notes




Pronouns and Body Parts

SON: Who Wears the Pants?

MOTHER: Mismatch


Endings and Beginnings

MOTHER: Mapping Modern Grief

SON: Birds of Spring


Sharing our Story with Others

SON: Donald Has Something He Would Like to Tell the Class

MOTHER: Disclosure



MOTHER: Right(s)

SON: Hidden Fees


A Story Exchange

Parent Story Exchange

Transgender Youth and Professionals Story Exchange


Donald’s Reading List






A Note from the Series Editor


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