A mother’s memoir of her transgender child’s odyssey, and her journey outside the boundaries of the faith and culture that shaped her.
From the age of two-and-a-half, Jacob, born “Em,” adamantly told his family he was a boy. While his mother Mimi struggled to understand and come to terms with the fact that her child may be transgender, she experienced a sense of déjà vu—the journey to uncover the source of her child’s inner turmoil unearthed ghosts from Mimi’s past and her own struggle to live an authentic life.
Mimi was raised in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family, every aspect of her life dictated by ancient rules and her role as a woman largely preordained from cradle to grave. As a young woman, Mimi wrestled with the demands of her faith and eventually made the painful decision to leave her religious community and the strict gender roles it upheld.
Having risen from the ashes of her former life, Mimi was prepared to help her son forge a new one — at a time when there was little consensus on how best to help young transgender children. Dual narratives of faith and motherhood weave together to form a heartfelt portrait of an unforgettable family. Brimming with love and courage, What We Will Become is a powerful testament to how painful events from the past can be redeemed to give us hope for the future.
Mimi Lemay is an international advocate for transgender youth and the author of the viral essay “A Letter to My Son Jacob on His 5th Birthday.” Lemay and her family meet regularly with legislators, business leaders, educators, and clergy to share their vision of a more equitable world. She is a member of the Parents for Transgender Equality National Council at Human Rights Campaign and holds a master’s in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.