A powerful memoir by two sisters about transitioning, family, and the path to self-realization.
When Orange Is the New Black and Diary of a Future President star Selenis Leyva was young, her hardworking parents brought a new foster child into their warm, loving family in the Bronx. Selenis was immediately smitten; she doted on the baby, who in turn looked up to Selenis and followed her everywhere. The little boy became part of the family. But later, the siblings realized that the child was struggling with their identity. As Marizol transitioned and fought to define herself, Selenis and the family wanted to help, but didn't always have the language to describe what Marizol was going through or the knowledge to help her thrive. In My Sister, Selenis and Marizol narrate, in alternating chapters, their shared journey, challenges, and triumphs. They write honestly about the issues of violence, abuse, and discrimination that transgender people and women of color--and especially trans women of color--experience daily. And they are open about the messiness and confusion of fully realizing oneself and being properly affirmed by others, even those who love you. Profoundly moving and instructive, My Sister offers insight into the lives of two siblings learning to be their authentic selves. Ultimately, theirs is a story of hope, one that will resonate with and affirm those in the process of transitioning, watching a loved one transition, and anyone taking control of their gender or sexual identities.
About the Author
Marizol Leyva is a transgender model, cook, and activist from the Bronx. She has been featured in a cooking segment for Telemundo's Adictivo TV and in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Latina Magazine, Time magazine's Motto, and People magazine's Latina Love Project Series. Together with Selenis, she was awarded the Anti-Violence Project's 2016 Courage Award and the Stonewall Community Foundation's 2016 Vision Award for inspiring visibility, advocacy and outspoken support for the transgender community. She lives in New York City. Selenis Leyva is an award-winning American actress known for her roles as Gloria Mendoza in the Netflix hit series Orange Is the New Black and as Gabi Cañero in the Disney Plus original Diary of a Future President. In addition to her film and television credits, Selenis is an outspoken activist for LGBTQ+ rights, and often is invited to college campuses to speak on diversity and inclusion. Together with Marizol, she was awarded the Anti-Violence Project's 2016 Courage Award and the Stonewall Community Foundation's 2016 Vision Award for inspiring visibility, advocacy and outspoken support for the transgender community. She has been featured in publications such as the Huffington Post, Time magazine's Motto, People magazine's Latina Love Project Series, and Splinter. She lives in New York City. Emily Chammah is a writer and an assistant editor of American Short Fiction, where she co-organizes The Insider Prize, a contest for incarcerated writers in Texas. She is the recipient of a 2018-2019 Fulbright Grant in Creative Writing to Jordan and the winner of the 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. She works as the Development Associate for Austin Bat Cave, a non-profit that empowers young people through writing workshops. She lives in Austin, Texas.
"Selenis and Marizol Leyva have crafted a moving and searingly honest portrait of what it means to lead an authentic life. By turns poignant and anguishing, the story of Marizol's journey as she fights to become who she was always meant to be will capture your imagination, but it is the immutable bond between sisters that, in the end, will break your heart."—Kate Mulgrew, author of How to Forget and Born with Teeth
"The spellbinding fusion of two sisters' fierce voices gives us this groundbreaking memoir about the fight to love and be loved as we are. My Sister is a must read for our fractured era, evoking the power of bridges to knock down the barriers that separate us -- from ourselves and one another. It's fast-paced and beautifully real."—Jean Guerrero, Emmy-winning journalist and author of Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir
"Fiercely honest, this book not only chronicles a harrowing journey to self-acceptance; it also celebrates an interpersonal love that transcends the bounds of blood and family. Bold, raw, and courageous."—Kirkus
"[An] unsparingly candid story of one transgender woman's transition." —Booklist
"Heart-wrenching...What makes My Sister special is not only the way it addresses trans identities with such care -- educating readers in a respectful and non-condescending way -- but also the way it balances a trans person's journey with the corresponding journey that her family must take to embrace her as she is...An important, informative and captivating read that chronicles two strong women learning to love one another." —Associated Press