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Attention! Attention!

Some of their extended family members, such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents, often accused them of faking it for attention, like Connor’s dad did. I thought it would be exhausting to put on such an act all the time

Dusti Bowling – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Unfortunately, it’s not the rarest thing in the world for someone to accuse a trans person of coming out for attention, or because their peers are also trans/gay/ace/anywhere else on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The call people ‘Trans trenders’.

Other times, people can just flat out not believe that it’s true for no other reason than “it’s not a real thing”. I’m lucky, no one in my immediate sphere holds any of these views. But other trans people aren’t. They get rejected for showing the world one of their most guarded secrets.

But Dusti Bowling (Sidenote: Yes that is her real name, according to her twitter bio! How fun is that!) explains perfectly in her really great book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus that people don’t choose to be trans, or gay, or ace, or in Connor’s case, have Tourettes, just for attention.

Aven, the main character, is a 13 year old girl who has just moved to a new town with zero friends, parents who have taken on a failing business, and to make everything worse, zero arms too! Quickly though, she finds a friend, Connor, who has Tourettes syndrome, and they bond over their shared outcast status.

Sadly, Connor’s dad holds the view that Connor can’t control his tics because he wants attention. But like Aven says, it’s exhausting being an outcast. A minority. Trans people fight the same fight.

There’s exactly zero worlds where someone would willingly put up with discrimination, weird looks, bathroom bills, almost zero representation in the media, debt from necessary medical bills, and possible surgeries, just for attention.

Instead, trans people who decide to come out and transition have weighed the pain they suffer from gender dysphoria (the distress from your body not matching your gender) to the pain the outward world could give. They have decided that it’s actually less bad to deal with everything the world could throw at them, and those things could include being murdered just because. No seriously, trans panic is a valid legal defense in many states in the USA.

However, it’s not all bad. It’s really cool seeing your life get better one day at a time when you’re on the right medication. It’s really awesome feeling like you match. Seeing the outpouring of love and support one can receive from friends and family can make a bad day good.

Just remember, we don’t do this for attention. We don’t want to stand out in the crowd. We just want to live our best life. Something Aven is hoping to achieve too.
– Kayleigh

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus:

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.