About the Book
Eliot: Mom, did you know that gender reassignment surgery is covered by Alberta Health & Wellness?
Carla: Oh? I don’t think I knew that.
For a time, Carla avoids the obviously massive conversations that this matter-of-fact statement implies. Things are changing, though, and it is increasingly evident that Eliot is not only autistic, but is also an Uncommon Girl. Carla begins to shepherd Eliot down an unfamiliar path riddled with dismissive medical consultations and mental health referrals to clinics with epic wait-lists.
Eliot transitions to Ella–a cross between a Hitchcock leading lady and a hooker, with ambitions of being a trophy wife. This extreme persona is one of many to emerge over the following months. Her parents attempt to set limits but Ella, in a typically teenage way, resists anything she deems as trying to squelch her true feminine self.
Ella is “outed” repeatedly by teachers she trusted, and stops attending school. Carla’s rage morphs into a motivating sense of injustice and she writes a privacy complaint to the Commissioner pursuing an order confirming that outing students is not only a bad idea–it is also illegal. Her persistent phone calls and inquiries result in a lawyer orchestrating a precedent setting Human Rights Complaint. Both of these pursuits are eventually victorious and Ella becomes the first male-to-female transgender minor in Alberta to have her gender marker amended.
The family begins to embrace and celebrate small and large victories that continue to occur. Carla and Ella are not superheroes, they are just a couple of Uncommon Girls determined to leave a bumpy road a little smoother for the next travelers.
In the Media
“Uncommon girls: Edmonton mom pens memoir about transgender daughter” — CBC News
“An uncommonly good read, written right here in St. Albert” — Scott Hayes, St. Albert Today
“Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly, Tara McCarthy: Uncommon Girls” — CBC Listen
“New Reads for the Rest of Us – July 2018 Releases” by Karla J. Strand
“These pages are intensely personal but they’re so well-written that they practically turn themselves. It’s that good.” — Scott Hayes, St. Albert Today
“I give this memoir a score of 40. I hesitate to give a perfect score, but the book is captivating from page one and continues powerfully till the end. The basic story is a mother learning her son is trans and their journeys (they are separate ones in many regards) as he becomes she. I appreciated the POV of the mother, since so many accounts are through the eyes of the trans person. And I liked that the mother was a complex, intelligent, well-meaning, and terribly flawed individual. Grant tells the story not only of her trans daughter but also how that overwhelming aspect of her life still had to compete with plenty of other parts, her alcoholism, her remarriage, other children, rescue dogs, her daughter’s self-harm, and multiple mental health issues. As if the story wasn’t complex enough, we learn early on that the trans daughter is also on the autism spectrum, adding multiple additional stresses. It’s all fascinating and at times even funny. Grant uses a variety of clever literary techniques to keep the reader interested. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s excellent.” — Rainbow Award judge