In her own words
University of Tulsa student Katie Hill is the author of “Rethinking Normal,” a memoir about her experience transitioning from male to female.
Memoirs are a popular genre for two reasons.
First, it is our nature to be curious about others’ lives. Reading about fascinating individuals in their biographies can be interesting, but ultimately, a well-written memoir penned by the individual adds layers and depths of intricacies to the stories that no biographer can.
Second, a good memoir helps to bring about new perspectives and thoughts to our own lives.
“Rethinking Normal,” a memoir by young first-time author and Tulsan Katie Hill, is one of these.
Hill brought the book to me when we met at a local restaurant. I happened to be with a friend. After Hill left, I mentioned I was reviewing her book because she’d written about her experience transitioning from male to female.
My friend was shocked. His shock is exactly what Hill’s book — and activism — hope to one day eradicate. Though far in the future, and with much work left to do, Hill works tirelessly to bring awareness to the subject of transgender issues, so that one day, a new friend might not react at all.
For the time being, Hill’s gender identity and expression are very much reaction-provoking subjects. She has gifted us with a sharp, and often heart-breaking, memoir to explain thoroughly what a transgender individual might feel and endure.
When asked what motivated her to write a book, Hill shared: “I knew my story could help people, and so I owed it to myself and to everyone else out there who could benefit from my story in someway to be as honest and open as possible.”
Her story begins in childhood with her burgeoning feelings of confusion over her sexual desires and gender identification.
With no detail spared, Hill describes the horrible bullying she endured as a young boy who looked, spoke and acted like a girl, whether “he” wanted to or not.
She tells of the emotional distance that developed between her and her father, and contrarily, the surprising way in which her saga changed her relationship with her mother entirely for the better.
Fortunately Hill discovered a title and definition for her feelings and then found two Tulsa support groups that not only supported her emotionally, but also honed her zeal for public speaking.
In “Rethinking Normal,” Hill takes us from her birth, through her tortuous journey of self-identification, up through her entry into the University of Tulsa, where her story and reputation still result in difficulty making friends.
Despite the adversity she has faced, Hill’s tone in the memoir is largely cheerful and upbeat — interspersed with serious, emotional moments, but never self-pitying or complaining. She simply tells it like it was, including all of her fears and confusions, as well as a healthy dose of young romantic faux pas.
Hill explains, “I wanted people to know that I am not this perfect person who claims to have never made a mistake in her life. I am a normal human being who is young, who is often times mistaken and stupid, yet at the same time, I am someone who was willing to fight against the odds and excel.”
She says, “I do hope that one day in the near future there will not be such a great need for me to educate people about these topics — if such a day comes, I will apply my skills to something else — perhaps fight for another cause.”
JUNE’S upcoming book events
6/8 H.W. Brands,
“Reagan: The Life.” 7 p.m. OU-Tulsa Founders Hall, 4502 E. 41st St., BookSmart Tulsa.
6/23 Emily St. John Mandel,
“Station Eleven.”7 p.m. AHHA (Hardesty Arts Center), 101 E. Archer St., BookSmart Tulsa.