Some Assembly Required is a memoir by seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews. Published in September 2014, it shares the many experiences Arin had growing up transgender. Beginning with stories about his early childhood (like loathing performing in dance recitals) and leading up to high school milestones (like going to prom), Arin discusses his gender reassignment and the struggles he faced while transitioning.
This memoir does more than just speak to transgender teens. It resonates with readers of all ages and genders and informs them on what being transgender is really like in today’s society by providing a modern, honest and vulnerable journey for readers to relate to and does an excellent job on educating readers of the difficulties faced while growing up transgender, as well as on the transition process itself.
One of the most significant points in the memoir is when Arin begins his hormone replacement therapy. A reoccurring idea made throughout the text is that it’s extremely difficult to feel complete and comfortable with yourself if “the outside does not match the inside”. Arin refers to the day he started taking testosterone supplments as his “second birthday”, and notes that even one day after the first injection there were changes in how oily his skin was, how fervent his appetite was and how cracked his voice was. Arin said, “It was all happening – just one more step to becoming the person I was meant to be.” Casey Plett, the author of “Balls Out: A Column on Being Transgendered”, also recounts in one of her articles the stretching ritual that became a part of her daily life. She said that likes to stretch out before and after she goes to sleep in order to feel the difference in her body that was due to her hormone pills. “It’s an added pleasure to the bookends of my day now,” she says. Moments like these, coming from real-life people in the transgender community, help best explain to anyone their simply joys and desire to feel perfectly comfortable in their own bodies.
Arin has a story that is not uncommon. The transgender community continues to grow and has been getting a lot of coverage for some time now. Arin and his ex-girlfriend Katie Hill received a ton of media attention for being a trans couple (more specifically a trans couple that was “safe for the masses – white, telegenic and heteronormative”). Arin noted that it bothered him that no one was interested in filming any of the other trans teens in his community, but at least they were getting the conversation started on a larger scale. It’s important to reflect on the fact that Arin is neither a fictional character nor a prominent member in society. As discussed in class, Caitlyn Jenner has nearly become the face of the trans community, and her story is one that is difficult to relate to being that she has lived her life in the spotlight. Although Arin and Katie’s lives were certainly glamourized, it’s important to recognize them as more suitable advocate for the trans community simply because of how relatable and raw their journeys have been.
Below is an interview Barcroft TV held with Arin and Katie about their transitions and relationship.