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Nicole Maines speaks about book, violence against transgender people

Nicole Maines, along with her father Wayne, discusses her experiences as a transgender youth in the Donald P. Corbett Business Center on December 1, 2015.
Nicole Maines, along with her father Wayne, discusses her experiences as a transgender youth in the Donald P. Corbett Business Center on December 1, 2015.

Following the recent release of the novel “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family,” Nicole Maines and her father Wayne Maines, subjects of the book, lectured to a full house in Donald P. Corbett last Tuesday.

The lecture was part of a “Becoming Nicole” event series co-sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development, University Bookstore, LGBT Services and the Wilson Center. Nicole and her family also attended a book signing, reception and second evening lecture.

Nicole is a first-year student at UMaine. She and her family made history when they won a landmark decision in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 2014 regarding transgender children’s bathroom rights in schools. The court ruled that it was unlawful to force a transgender child to use the restroom of the sex they were born with instead of the one with which they identify.

She has since been recognized across the nation for her efforts in fighting for transgender equality. She was named one of Glamour magazine’s “50 Inspiring Women of the Year” in 2014. She guest starred on “Royal Pains,” a popular drama on USA Network. Nicole and her brother have been featured in People Magazine, Good Morning America and Nightline. She will also be featured in an HBO special in January.

The lecture was an emotional one, as it took place in the Maines’ hometown, close to the very same school system that refused to let Nicole use the bathroom of the sex she identifies with.

“This is Nicole’s day,” Wayne Maines, her father, said.

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” was published on Oct. 19, and was written by Washington Post writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Ellis Nutt. A lot of the content, however, came from the Maines family.

“I started writing in my journal, and next thing I know I had 130,000 words and it was really a big foundation and part of our book. But it was one-sided. It was from the eyes of a Republican dad, an NRA shooting sports instructor, Air Force veteran who really didn’t know how to handle having a son say ‘Daddy, when do I get to be a girl?’” Wayne Maines recanted during the lecture on Tuesday.

The novel has already been a success in the state of Maine. Chris Brown, the chief financial officer of Bull Moose, a Maine-owned music, book, movie and video game retailer with locations across the state, says that “Becoming Nicole” is selling very well.

“[“Becoming Nicole”] started taking off in October when there was tons and tons of press about it,” Brown said. “What’s interesting is the Bangor store is selling the best [number of copies,] the second best is Waterville, and so on. People know her in Bangor. They want to hear her story.”

While “Becoming Nicole” was the reason for the lecture, Nicole used the opportunity to speak out against trending violence and across the nation towards transgender people.

“There are transgender kids across the nation that do not have what I have. Many of them live in states that do not protect them from bullying, harassment, and discrimination,” Nicole Maines said.

Nicole had a very clear message: “Violence against transgender women, transgender people, is on the rise. And it has to stop. I am here today to ask you to help stop this trend and eliminate this violence.”

Nicole concluded her portion of the lecture with a call to action. “At age 11, I learned that the only way to promote change was to get involved. I learned at a young age we have powerful voices, and I’m not done promoting change. So come join me.”

The lecture ended with a question-and-answer session, and was followed by a book signing.

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” is available for purchase at the University of Maine Bookstore.

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