Book Review and Giveaway: Raising My Rainbow

While comments on this post are still welcome, the giveaway is now closed. The winners were announced here.

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son is the story of C.J., Lori Duron’s sparkly boy-child. Lori sent me two autographed copies of her book to give away to my readers (leave a comment below for a chance to win—and if you are one of the two randomly chosen winners, I will mail you your own copy).

Reading Raising My Rainbow, I realized that Lori’s story is my story too, and it is the story of so very many parents I have spoken to over the years. The book captures the themes that parents of gender-nonconforming children often share, like self blame, fear of the future, and the fierce desire to protect our children from ridicule. She explores the effects that a gender-nonconforming child can have on their parents, siblings, and extended family. She talks about how it feels to be criticized by our families, friends, and strangers—and asks the questions so many parents of gender-nonconforming kids ask: what do we owe these people? What do we owe our children?

The book is lovingly written and touching, matter-of-fact and readable. It left me hungry to see where C.J. and his parents and brother went in the world, what they learned, how they struggled, how they overcame. And it helped that Lori is funny (“I texted [my husband] Matt, who was at work, a photo of C.J.’s crap in the toilet and the picture of him holding Belle at Target.”).

Lori and Matt clearly struggled—and probably continue to struggle, for this is an ever-shifting landscape—for a long time. But Lori realized early on that to accept and support her son was to give him a gift. And this realization helped her to let go of double standards in her own life (e.g., not letting C.J. take his feminine toys out of the house when his brother could take his masculine ones) as she began to see them in the world around her (why can girls wear pants but boys can’t wear a skirt?)

The book shows how our children help us to evolve—and how awkward and uncomfortable it can be to evolve in a context where the people around us are not evolving with us. “There is comfort found in expectations, but when they are squashed when your child is three, four, or five years old, you start to question why they exist at all. You attempt to move on without expectations and try not to be jaded when people around you hold tight to old, comfortable ones.”

In the end, I was left wanting to know more about C. J. and his family. Will his gender identity persist? How will he face teasing and harassment as he gets older? What will his parents do to proactively prevent bullying at his school? Perhaps we’ll find out in a sequel.

We—the mom and dad bloggers of the gender-nonconforming community—welcome Lori, and we welcome her book. Raising My Rainbow is an important contribution to the small but growing library of books affirming gender-nonconforming children to be entirely themselves.


Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Raising My Rainbow. Remember to either include your email address or message me on facebook so that I know how to get in touch with you if you win! Winners will be announced Monday October 7.



  1. says

    I’ve read Lori’s blog for a few years now and have found it to be a huge inspiration to me as well as some of my other gender nonconforming friends. I’m so very proud of the positive attention she is getting from the media as well as how lovely her book is doing

  2. Lance says

    I’ve been a devoted reader of Lori’s for over a year now. When I first saw her blog, it struck a chord with me (a man who was “gender creative” as a child and did not have supportive parents) and I’ve read it religiously ever since, cheering them all on and watching Lori transform from blogger to author. It’s been amazing and I look forward to seeing each and every post!

  3. says

    As a little girl all I wanted was a pair of cool school shorts with pockets like my brother’s. I didn’t get why I had to wear an ugly green dress. I’ve grown out of my penchant for wearing boy’s clothes, but I’d still have liked the opportunity to explore this side of myself more fully as a kid.

    I applaud CJ’s parents for their open-mindedness. By the same token though, I hold nothing against my own parents as they later proved extremely open-minded in their own right! :-)

    • shoffman says

      A rainbow family, I love that. I’ve always said that Sam is pink and his sister Ruby is yellow; these days Sam is more purple so we really are a rainbow.

  4. karen says

    i work as a congregational consultant in faith formation; this would be a great resource for our parents and also for our youth. i’m imagining multigenerational common read groups – so many rich possibilities arise from simple and honest stories generously shared. looking forward to reading this. thanks!

  5. says

    I would love to read this. More, I would love to give a copy to our public library, so likely, if I win, I will :-) . Otherwise, I will be buying it. Thanks for the good review.

  6. says

    Thanks for providing this review – I can’t wait to read the book. It is so true that we need more books like this – as the mom of a transgender son, I appreciate every parent who shares their story so that awareness is spread about our beautiful children!

  7. Lynne says

    As a transgender baby boomer woman who has endured a lifetime of shame, ridicule and hate towards people who are simply different, I am in awe of the courage of strong, loving women like Sarah and Lori who are changing the world by allowing their beautiful “Rainbow” children to be the beautiful, perfect people they were born to be. I am so thankful to have lived long enough to see the miracles of this new day and dream about the happy, productive lives that new generations of rainbow children will live. Thank you Sarah and Lori and all the mothers and fathers who are loving and supporting their rainbow children.
    Lynne Martin

    • shoffman says

      What lovely words Lynne. Thank you. I wish for you all the benefits of this changing world, and healing from your past.

  8. says

    Enter me too. I am so interested in the fact that when you Sarah H started to write about Sam pink boy wasn’t a “thing” — and now we all share language about gender and kids we didn’t have before. Bravo to us all and to our kids.

    • shoffman says

      It’s funny, Sarah B., sometimes I think I should have coined the phrase “tomgirl” instead of “pink boy,” because it’s more easily identifiable…but it’s a pleasure to see the term having become part of the lexicon. But yes, I love that it’s all “a thing” and there are so many books and conversations happening–these things are collectively changing the world. Your early piece about your son wearing a dress to a wedding was a part of that thing!

  9. Kara says

    We really struggle in our area to get people to see they gender stereotyping they participate in every day. We experience a number of side comments disguised as “jokes” or questions that are less questions and more veiled “suggestions” about how to raise our son. I’m so happy to see more conversations on this!

    • shoffman says

      The more we talk the more we change the world! I’m sorry to hear that you experience discrimination. Know that the climate is slowly but surely changing.

  10. Jenny says

    My 4.5 year old son LOVES high heels, Minnie Mouse, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and anything that sparkles. I just recently found Lori’s blog and would LOVE to read this book!

  11. says

    “…our children help us to evolve—and how awkward and uncomfortable it can be to evolve in a context where the people around us are not evolving with us.”

    Word! I experienced this evolution parenting non-typical (though not gender creative) children. I found so many mothers who experienced transformation through parenting, I wrote a book about it (Swan Mothers: Discovering Our True Selves by Parenting Uniquely Magnificent Children).

    Glad I saw this and have the opportunity to discover another magnificently unique child.

  12. Jodie says

    I am an avid follower of Raising My Rainbow and also follow your blog. My son is gender nonconforming. He is in first grade this year and so we are really starting our journey. I would love a copy of this book for myself and (especially) my husband to read.

  13. Jamie says

    I love Lori and think she’s amazing! I don’t have kids but hope I’m half the parent to my future offspring as she is to CJ and his brother! She’s a fantastic role model and I hope she continues to write because she always makes me laugh!

  14. Chris says

    Yay! It’s always wonderful to hear about other parents who accept their children as they are instead of forcing them to conform to society’s picture of what they “should” be like. I’m always happy to share my experiences of having a gender creative child and it’s great to feel validated by others who are on this journey as well. Kudos ladies for lighting the way of acceptance!

  15. says

    this book mean so much to me, its as if your in my head writing my thoughts. i think of you and your family everyday as i look at my own and wish we were friends so i would have someone to lean on thank you for sharing your book.

  16. Sue Anne says

    Me, me! I love Lori’s blog and book. Would be honored to have an autographed copy. I even wrote her because my school is interested in having her come speak if she’s able and willing! 😀

  17. Jamie Erickson says

    Hi! I saw you on The Doctors and was incredibly moved and encouraged by you and your husbands love and devotion to your children’s happiness! Thank you for being so incredible. I would love to read your book. I hope I win!

  18. heather says

    Love her book and blog. She was the first voice I found in my search to understand my own sparkle, pink loving son. <3

  19. alisha blackburn says

    Would love to win a copy of this book. Lori and her family are an inspiration for all gender non-conforming kids. I have read her blog for awhile but don’t yet have the book!

  20. Ubaldo says

    I am a 54 year old man who came out with my niece four years ago, I read about people who struggle with being bullied all the time. I have admired so many people who have embraced their sexuality and their hearts desire to be who god created them to be , despite other people’s objections. C.J. and his family are my hero’s! I will continue to support all those who want to be the prince and princess god created. Go C.J.! I wishI had your strength at that age! May god bless you and your family always.

  21. Marcela K says

    It was about a month before the book released, that I found this blog. Reason being is because I went on a search for what I now know as gender non-conforming. Reason for the search was because our second son started to show us more interest in what would typically be girl things. Thinking back now, he started hinting it a year ago this month and we just didn’t pick up on it. Or we brushed it off as silliness and went back to just “boy stuff”. The blog and book helped my husband and I by showing us that we’re not alone. We can help each other out by giving our son a “safe place” to express himself as he wishes. We’re also lucky to live on an area that is very liberal in that people don’t frown on him or us. We reference the book often and is a HUGE asset in raising our beautiful rainbow!

  22. Kristen S. says

    I’m a grad student, getting my Masters of Social Work. I can’t wait to read Lori’s book (I’ve been reading RMR for over a year now) but sadly my grad-student-dependent-on-loans-for-survival status has prevented me from buying anything other than textbooks and ramen these last few weeks. Maybe my comment will win me a copy! Much love.

  23. Luana Wolk says

    I bought the book right after I saw it at people magazine, and in a week, I was done! It made me laugh, it made me cry, but above all, it made me more accepting of differences. “Different is not weird, it’s just different”.

    I am a better person after reading your story, Lori.
    Thank you!

  24. Mike Moss says

    I would love to receive a signed copy of this book. I work with lgbt youth and I do workshops in my community to help expand knowledge of homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism to build capacity to end it. This book would be a great tool to add to my kit for helping others with it.

  25. Kristy Williams says

    Thanks for the review! I look forwarding to reading this book! I have a 6 year old trans daughter and I’ve followed lori’s story for some time now!

  26. Denise says

    I am in love with this family!!! I have Been wanting the book I am in a lesbian relationship planning on marrying her.. I also have a 4 yr old son who loves to paint his toes… we have a beautiful family..

  27. Ramzi says

    I would love to own an autographed copy of this book! I am a divorced dad of 3 kids, one of which follows her own spectrum and I am the only parent who has recognized and accepted it.

  28. Shellie says

    I cant wait to read this book!! I am raising my own 6 year old rainbow and his twin sister who defies the ‘girl’ norms society has. Would love to share this book with others as well! I wish everyone would get the importance of allowing children to be who they are and supporting them in their journey through life!

  29. Kelly says

    I wish that there were more parents like her and books like this when I was a child! I would love to win a copy!

  30. says

    I have enjoyed reading the tales of CJ and relate greatly to the things that they deal with. Having a creative, sparkly, fancy boy of my own I know all to well of the struggles and battles that come along with it. I would love to have the chance to win a copy of the book signed by such an amazing woman as Lori.

  31. Tricia says

    Lori,…C.j and all the family have made mine and my families life sparkly and bright again!!……I am a single parent of 3 boys,..Denions 17 and has cerebral Palsy in which im his full time carer….Owen 14,..Whos a fantastic footballer, and VERY liked by the girls,,,and he knows it!!….Then theres LIAM-GEORGE (Lifes good!!)…5 years old,…but seems like a 21 year old woman at times!!….from birth to now hes been a MASSIVE challenge,….i truly believe i may have broke down with his behaviour,…its very intense and scarey,…iv brought 2 boys up with no worries,….had the most tortures r/ships and breakups,…nursed my sister to her death for 18 months until she lost her fight with the big C….:(:( YET liam is soooo much more hard work than all these put together,….EVERYTHING he has/does/dresses etc is almost EXACTLY the same as cjs,…its uncanny,….hes 18 month ahead of his years creative wise and dont we know it!!….He can make anything out of anything,,,its been a loong hard slog upto now…iv been gp and still waiting to hear from the assesment….but i am 99.9% sure he is a non gender…..ive emailed lori, which she took time out kindly to write back and she didnt question it…was buzzing about if liam and cj did meet they wud be so happy and enjoy each others company soooo much…its sad we cudnt make this happen,….but theres millions of miles betweeen us!!….after finding lori and cj,…i could see again, i wasnt alone, trying to convince people/family that i wasnt encouraging it and how intense he was at home,,….(only me and his bros ever see his true ways athome )… all matched precisely,…it was like i was reading what id wrote,….now, theres still the worry and thought of what the future holds,…although im sure it will be difficult,…challenging,…tearful…heart wrenching etc etc….but thats all good,….IM READY,….IM FEELING HAPPY AND CONTENT FOR HIM ASWELL AS ME,…AS NOW WE HAVE A ‘NAME’ A SORT OF ‘DIAGNOSIS’ For his love of girls things… wondering,…not knowing,…feeling lost, scared very much alone and feeling i couldnt cope,,,,IM NOT ALONE,….WERE NOT ALONE,…lori and matt had been through/still going through the struggle of not knowing how to cope,…deal with it,…whether it should be dis encouraged,…ignored,,,,highlighted,,,..had to decide what they think was right,….like any parenting theres no rule book,….everyones learning every day,…but this is a hell of a lot more complex,…dealing and controlling his older bros,….as all they do is call him a gay weirdo and dont talk to him,,,,theyre friends make fun and laugh so they both get even more angry at me….when all liam wants is to spend time with his big bros,…talk with them,….read, colour in etc….but theres nothing and i feel sooo sorry for him with this,,,this makes him go into crazy angry rages,,,,,then he’ll put a dress on and BOOOOM..different boy,…happy content and chillled….I cannot express my appreciation and love i have for lori and family,…..for them sharing their story…me finding them and im a great believer in EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON….and im sure me researching and finding them very much happened for a reason….all the stress worry and frett of what/when /how/why etc for liams future,…dealing with society and cruel people,…how difficult and challenging its going to be for him doesnt seem half as black and scarey now,…knowing what i know,…knowing theres others experiencing the exact same shit… be able to get help,…advice etc off lori,..and others….they feel the way i do!!1……its overwhelming,….and at times like a dream,,,,i have to pinch myself to make sure i aint dreaming!!…….Its 6.15am now,… i shall now log off,…do liam s breakfast and go wake him….which will be an all out war!!,,,,He’ll scream shout kick punch for anything from 7 mins to 18 mins (which is loooong on a school day)….refuse point blank to wear his uniform for half hour….have breakfast,,,,wash etc….put a bracelet or ring on,,,,then repeat the same as he does EVERY day….its nearly time to set off and liam get a sheet of paper and pink felt tip out…..time to go liam i say…..ARRRRGGHHHHHH I NEED TO START AND FINISH MY RAPUNZUL PICTURE AND COLOUR IT IN!!….now we have like 6 mins to get to school…..after a fight he takes the paper to school…..crying,,,,;( ;( ;( sorry if ive gone on and on when it was just supposed to be a comment and then were in the running for a signed copy of the book:) :) which would mean the absolute world to me,….it wud be a the icing on the cake,…the start of a whole new crazy chapter in our lives….I now understand why my neighbour says im marvellous every day and how she admires how i cope and deal with liam…….i AM A DAMN GOOD MOTHER,…..although i was down and questioning what i am what i do etc etc when trying to deal with liam,….iv made my desicions through open mindedness,….non judgemental upbringing,….realism,,,,not having a care as to what people do/say/think of me….Which is something iv had since i can remember,…iv never followed,…always done my own thing,,,been different,…NEVER JUDGED,…OPINIONATED,…ALWAYS SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE,…OPEN MINDEDNESS….LIVE AND LET LIVE ATTITUDE,….which since my sister passsed has become even more intense and apparent…so as i ALWAYS SAY FOR EVERTHING A REASON…(which i had to have tattoooed)….Denion was sent to me as a tester,…i was given him and his disability because i was/am able to deal and cope with it…….TESTING TIMES…….heres the real one,…….LIAM GEORGE…..NON GENDER CREATIVE BOY/GIRL………THE ROAD AHEAD IS LOOOOONG,….HAZY, AND UNKNOWN,,,,BUT BY GOD ARE WE READY,,,,,BRING IT ON!!……..MUCH LOVE XX forever grateful to lori,…matt and family….you are real life angels……..LOVE YAS XXXXXX

  32. Noora Kaselius says

    I bought the book for Kindle and loved it!
    I think children should be seen as personalities first – why should it matter if the toys they play with are “girls’ toys” or “boys’ toys”, as long as the toys are age appropriate, safe and the kids are happy?

    Good job, Lori – I hope I will grow to be as empathic and big hearted mother to my baby-girl as you are to your kids!

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