The Bold World
A Memoir of Family and Transformation
Jodie Patterson, Jodie Patterson
Inspired by her transgender son, activist Jodie Patterson explores identity, gender, race, and authenticity to tell the real-life story of a family’s history and transformation.
“A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love.”—Janet Mock
As an African American growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, when neighborhoods defined people, Jodie Patterson learned early on to engage with her community for strength and comfort. But then in 2009 this mother of five had her world turned upside down. Realizing that her definition of community wasn’t wide enough for her own child’s needs, Patterson forced the world wide open.
In The Bold World, we witness a mother reshaping her attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her transgender son, Penelope— and opening the minds of everyone in her family who absolutely, unequivocally refused to conform.
As we walk alongside Patterson on her journey, we meet the Southern women who came before her—the mother, grandmothers, and aunts who raised and fortified her, all the while challenging cultural norms and gender expectations. She shares her family’s history—particularly incidents within the Black community around sexism, racism, and civil rights. We learn about her children, who act as a vehicle for Jodie Patterson’s own growth and acceptance of her diverse family, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and, eventually, activist. The result is an intimate portrait and an exquisite study in identity, courage, and love. Patterson’s relentless drive to change the world will resonate with and inspire us all, reflecting our own individual strength and tenacity, our very real fears, and, most of all, our singular ability to transform despite the odds.
Praise for The Bold World
“In The Bold World, Jodie Patterson makes a case for respecting everyone’s gender identity by way of showing how she came to accept her son, Penelope. In tying that struggle to the struggle for race rights in this country during her own childhood, she paints a vivid picture of the permanent work of social justice.”—Andrew Solomon, bestselling author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree