The night he loses his virginity, he becomes Dean. Amy Wagner names him—and she would know best. Amy knows all kinds of things that Dean doesn’t understand—things about sex, music, and the darker side of life. All Dean knows is his safe suburban home with his parents, books, and imaginary games. Until now, he’s been able to hide his true identity, even from himself. To the rest of the world, he is a teenage girl—an awkward, boyish teenage girl, but a girl nonetheless. Meeting Amy changes everything. Soon that protected world around him begins to fall apart, and he is left with no option but to face himself and the truth.
I Know Very Well How I Got My Name chronicles Dean’s clumsy progression through the American public school system. It is the 90’s and early 2000’s, in suburban Syracuse, New York—a world in which LGBTQ bullying is not yet a hot topic in schools, and there is little tolerance for outsiders of any kind. A prequel to his critically-acclaimed novel Refuse, Elliott DeLine’s second book is about the prevailing myths surrounding bullying and abuse, and the hardships of being young and transgender without a community or a roadmap.
"… one of the most nuanced, well-written transgender origin stories on the market today, showcasing DeLine’s impressive range as a writer. I Know Very Well How I Got My Name fearlessly re-enters the pain and confusion of childhood to tell a story that’s at once specific to transgender experience and a universal exploration of how we come to form our identities, from the playground games insisting on “boys vs. girls” to the pitfalls and perils of first love. Though DeLine is only 24, with Refuse and I Know Very Well How I Got My Name, his is already a major contribution to queer literature. Like so many of the classic gay and lesbian novels from the earlier part of the 20th century, these works are sure, years from now, to enjoy wider readership and recognition as pioneering examples of transgender writing. Moreover, DeLine’s well-crafted storytelling and skill at cultivating voice prove that, far from being a niche genre, transgender narratives by transgender authors are a welcome and still underrepresented presence in contemporary fiction today."
-Jameson Fitzpatrick, Kirkus Reviews
"I Know Very Well How I Got My Name seems to spit in the face of most traumatic renderings of a transgender experience. The book seems to say that, “yeah, I know things got kind of fucked up for a while. We’re all really haunted by something in one way or another. But I’m going to take from it what I think is valuable and then write my story differently.” …We are not watching someone become reborn or rise up from the Phoenix flame as so many transgender narratives have described. Instead, we watch someone who has been silent, haunted, and abused, suddenly say “okay, yeah. That’s enough. I’m done.” and walk away. This is not the ending of a false life and the beginning of something true. This is someone getting fed up of other people defining them - and finding a voice, no matter what that voice is.”
-Evelyn Deshane, Prosaic Magazine
"In his fiction he departs from conventional ‘coming out’ narratives of transgender persons — that the transgender character’s story concludes when they outwardly identify themselves as existing outside the gender binary. Rather, DeLine represents transgender persons as more fully complex human beings wherein their identities are not wholly subsumed by their gender.”
-Dr. Jeffry Iovannone. SUNY Fredonia, Women & Gender Studies professor