The Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Gender and Identity by Michelle AlfanoThe Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Gender and Identity by Michelle Alfano

The Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Gender and Identity

byMichelle Alfano

Paperback | October 21, 2017

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No mother is prepared for the moment when a child comes out to her as a person whose physical gender is out-of-keeping with his emotional and psychological gender-identity. In Michelle Alfano's intimate memoir, she recounts her experience as the mother of a transgender child.

The central metaphor of The Unfinished Dollhouse tells the story: on Frankie's fourth birthday, her parents Michelle and Rob purchased a kit to create a beautiful dollhouse. Michelle imagined building the home, buying the tiny pieces of furniture and accessories to fill it and, more importantly, the times she and her daughter would spend constructing the perfect dollhouse - a fantasy of domestic and familial happiness. Frankie expressed no interest in such typically girlish pursuits because Frankie harboured a secret - a secret about gender.

In the years to follow, Frankie's parents experienced an education in parenting a child transitioning from female to male - which pronouns to use, how to disclose the information to friends, family, school and how to deal with the reactions of all - some heartening, some surprising, some disappointing.

There is no memoir like The Unfinished Dollhouse in the Canadian cultural landscape, a memoir by the mother of a transgender child.

Michelle Alfano is a Toronto writer whose fiction and non-fiction work has been published in Canada and in the United States. Her short story "Opera" was a finalist for the Journey Prize; Made Up of Arias, the novella based on that story, won the 2010 Bressani Award for Short Fiction. She is the former Associate Editor-in-Chief (Admin...
Title:The Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Gender and IdentityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.75 inPublished:October 21, 2017Publisher:CORLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1770864989

ISBN - 13:9781770864986

Customer Reviews of The Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Gender and Identity


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Moving Memoir This memoir documents Michelle Alfano’s difficult and ultimately empowering journey to come to terms with her child’s transition to become a Transboy/man. Although Michelle struggles to let go of the fantasy of the life she thought she would lead when she married Rob and gave birth to her daughter, she eventually comes to realize that if she clings to her fantasy, not only will “she cause irreparable damage to her relationship” with Frankie, but, by not letting Frankie go down this path, she will ultimately “destroy her child.” Michelle’s journey to acceptance involves many different stages each which comes with its own unique challenges: remembering to use the new pronouns of “he” and “him,” to dealing with the loss of the name she gave Frankie at birth which has a special significance for her, or the loss of the photos on display in the house of Frankie as a young person, to adjusting to the physical changes in appearance and clothing, the testosterone injections, and eventually top surgery. We also learn just how great the burden is for a transgender youth to keep their identity a secret. In Frankie’s case, the secret affected: “appetite, energy level, school attendance, involvement with the family, sports activity, social life, and maintenance of his friendships.” Conversely, Frankie’s “unburdening immediately had a salutary effect on him – in terms of his physical and mental health, his school attendance, his grades, social activities and his engagement with the outside world.” Easily, the most moving part of the memoir is the fierce love both parents demonstrate for Frankie time and time again. They are determined to do whatever it takes to ensure their child is thriving and remains that way. Finally, Michelle makes it abundantly clear that as parents, they are not the heroes for accepting Frankie’s transition. Frankie is the hero: “Frankie, did choose, bravely, to try and live an open and honest life. He is trying to live a life that is true to his inner desires and feelings.” I highly recommend this memoir!
Date published: 2017-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All too rare... Poignant and heartfelt. Moving and beautifully written. Michelle Alfano's account of her relationship with her child, Frankie, her chronicle of her all too human reactions as a mother and growth is inspiring whether you are a parent or a child. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It’s not always pretty, or pink Michelle Alfano is fearless in letting us in on her journey of discovery, grappling first with the unknowns then navigating a convoluted search for ways to help Frankie along the best possible path. Anyone who has had to deal with adversity concerning a child, or any loved one, will relate with the roller-coaster of emotions chronicled in The Unfinished Dollhouse. It’s not always pretty, or pink, but it’s life, and it’s love.
Date published: 2017-01-13