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A Chaotic Childhood in the Tillett Wright: Questioning Gender



 Tillett wright : We all know what it is like to be the only child raised by a single parent. You may be a child, parent or sibling on different days. Sometimes you might even play multiple roles at once. You work through the challenges and try to make space for yourself. This is the core struggle of iO Tillett Wright’s debut memoir, “Darling Days.”

Tillett Wright

Tillett Wright

Tillett Wright was brought up in the bohemian East Village by Rhonna, who was a model and a full-time “glamazon”. She preferred to spend money on classes and not on groceries or bills.

Tillett Wright is a child of instability and love. The child says that sleep is not a common occurrence in this house due to the late-night plays and other activities. Ma is also in a very bad state.


It’s almost like she has two personalities. Wright is skinny and scrappy and can get food from her neighbors. She then sneaks up on the side of buildings to get into her apartment unnoticed.

Tillett Wright was born a girl, but he identifies as a boy throughout his childhood. He tells his father he is now a boy at six and for eight years he dresses up as such.

This gender rewriting was accepted by both parents. “Ma doesn’t think it’s strange that I live like a boy,” Tillett Wright observes.

Tillett Wright says that boys have all the fun and girls have a lot of restraints. However, he is bullied by his classmates. One student wrapped a hand around him in a staircase to search for an Adam’s Apple.


Tillett Wright, an L.G.B.T. Tillett Wright, an L.G.B.T. activist and host of MTV’s “Suspect,” now identifies himself as a transgender male.

Tillett Wright’s malnourishment is a result of Ma’s neglect. However, Ma is the one who is most passionate about her cat. Their relationship is close, even though it was later marred by violent fights.

In a letter to his mother that prefaces the memoir Tillett Wright says, “We are some sort of twins, able to see one another in a room with closed eyes, and able to hear each others in a world filled with silence.”

Tillett Wright was a twin, but he longed for regular meals, a bed and real food. Not the broken Army cot his mother found for him on Canal Street. Tillett Wright fantasizes about living with his Poppa in Europe.


He doesn’t want to “stabbing my mother in the throat”, but he does so by talking to a school counselor. This tension is the emotional core of the book.

He must choose between his needy and controlling mother and take care of himself. Tillett Wright is both clear-eyed and compassionate in this struggle.

Strong starts “Darling Days”. Tillett Wright’s East Village childhood is particularly vivid. “Our building repels normal people.

 They would have to love cockroaches and scalding radiators as well as thin walls. . . They would need to create their own niche in zoo, and defend it.” We move deeper into the story and into Tillet Wright’s teenage years. His perspective begins to narrow.


Although he is passionately felt and described, it can be difficult to understand his struggles. A wiser, older narrator would help them.

Vivian Gornick said it best: “Too many situations, too little story.” Sometimes I wished Tillett Wright would take a step back from the rollercoaster ride of new schools and later new lovers so that we could get a wider view on the changes in his city, his family, and his parents, who were imperfect but fascinating. His life was full of history, which could be added to his memoir.

It’s difficult not to support Tillett Wright as he comes into his own. And especially when he falls in love with women and accepts a queer identity that he had long resisted. I want something more than what I inherit, but I have to make it happen for myself.

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