Bif Naked on For Today I Am a Boy
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“I wish I could meet Peter Huang. I love Peter Huang. He is my hero. I love who Peter is, who he was, and who he identifies as.
This book moved and touched me so deeply because Kim Fu has delicately created an incredibly sweet and sensitive character that drew me in and gave me a glimpse of the intimate narrative of his heart. And I loved his heart (and the author’s, for her use of language that was like beautiful lace).
I was touched by Peter’s vulnerable sweetness and honesty. I sympathized with him, though I never felt sorry for him. He was a quiet strength (like his mother) and a regal resilience (bestowed on him by his birth name, Juan Chaun: king, or powerful king). For me, reading was a call to action. I could relate to his childhood and upbringing so much that I found myself wanting to reach into the book, break through its very pages, and pull Peter to safety to protect him. I would have fought for him in the school playgrounds and in the restaurants.
The Huang family’s dynamic was much like my own growing up. The stories that unfold about the family – the sisters, their quiet mother, and their determined father – growing up in small-town Canada made me feel as though I was sitting at the table there with them, eating in silence. I had older and younger sisters, who were very much like Peter’s. The way that they bonded with each other, so emotionally, may have been because of their strict parents, and I could relate to that. Their dynamic was interesting to me, and I felt like I gained an understanding of Peter as a result of his primary relationships. There was always an undercurrent of shame: his father relentlessly tried to avoid his generational shame, and he almost silenced his wife, who complied dutifully.
As I read, I imagined the subconscious humiliation Peter must have had to bear and struggle with, like a boulder he was forced to carry his entire life. The weight of his heavy heart crushed even me, frequently.
Nonetheless, I cheered for Peter and wished for him to succeed, whatever that looked like for him. I just wanted him to be happy. I hoped that he would be able to accept himself and feel no self-doubt, unworthiness, or self-hatred.
I wanted Peter to love himself as much as I loved him. In the end, I loved how he persevered. The way we learn about him and the sweetness of his secrets is extremely tender and positive. I wish the entire world could get to know sweet Peter (and his wonderful friend John in Montreal) and learn more about transgender people through this positive and thoughtfully written book.
Perhaps, like me, they would even discover different things about themselves and their own gender identities. I learned so much from him and his confusion, and I hope this award winning story finds its way into school classrooms all over the world. This is an important book.”
Bif Naked was born in India and raised in the United States and Canada, spending many of her formative years in Winnipeg. Bif recently released her memoir, I, Bificus, available everywhere books are sold. Bif lives in Vancouver, B.C. Follow her on Twitter @bifnaked.