Review by Melanie Holmes
When it comes to having children, An Atypical Chick: A Gay Man in a Woman’s Body Coming Out to Change Life As We Know It throws facts into the face of emotion and religion. Author Rhonny Dam has a lot to say, and her quick-witted flair relays pain in way that will make readers squirm and smile through tears.
Dam knew growing up that she didn’t fit the norm. Shunning the things other girls liked left her feeling adrift and lost. She endured decades of struggles before accepting herself as a heterosexual woman on the outside who feels male on the inside. This combination makes her identify as “Atypical.”
In the first several chapters, Dam lays out her early years of life. Being born and therefore pigeonholed as female, she found herself questioning the many “shoulds” thrown at her. When it comes to the ‘should’ of having children, Dam explains how she felt repelled by the idea of procreation, which made it hard to relate to other females. As an ex-Catholic, with a steely eye she also examines how the ‘shoulds’ in religion influence people to have children.
A Circuitous Struggle
In the second segment of the book, we follow Dam’s journey through myriads of situations and men. Readers follow her circuitous struggle to take control over her life. Patterns emerge, but she doesn’t hold the key to unlock the puzzle of her actions. With brutal honesty and no apologies, we ride with her as she finds herself in unchartered waters and stays afloat as best she can.
In the third part of the book, we learn how Dam finds her inner strength. She realizes she has high-testosterone, and begins to not just embrace, but boldly speak out about being a “high-T” woman. She uncovers how this realization builds her inner resolve like nothing else had in the previous four decades of her life.
By honoring the pain she’s endured, Dam extends a hand to other high-T women – other Atypicals. And she has a mission. She’s taken what she’s always known about herself – that she is childfree – and has turned it into a crusade to save the planet. With population doubling in just one lifetime, she discusses humankind’s trajectory to extinguish itself, and details the ways in which overconsumption and consumerism is poisoning all of us. “It’s time to speak,” says Dam.
Dam knows there are other high-T women out there who struggle, feel adrift and alone. She wants to light the way for others and dares them to stand up and be counted to influence elections for the sake of the planet. And she wants to know why it’s okay to have multiple children, which enlarges carbon footprints to fill a Yeti-size shoe, while she and other Atypicals are asked to explain why they don’t want kids – explain why they are Atypical!
The childfree, childless for any reason (circumstance, biology, etc.), as well as anyone concerned about the path civilization is careening down will appreciate this book. Dam wants us to celebrate the childfree choice for many reasons…because it reflects an important self-truth, and because the overpopulation issue grows larger every day. Dam also wants us to know the merits of being high-T and Atypical, and what we can do to change the world.
Thank you, Melanie!
Melanie Holmes’ first book, The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story, Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate, won a 2014 Global Media Award from the Population Institute for its message of equality and education for females. The book is dedicated to her daughter. Her passion is diversity; specifically, women’s history, rights, and lives.