Dandelion Daughter
ISBN: 9781550656183

Description : 280 pages

Type de document : Livre de poche

Niveau : Cégep/Université


“tell me instead that trans people will experience love and that we will no longer have to fight for our rights and our dignity 

tell me instead that we won’t get raped, that we won’t die and be left in a ravine, found two weeks later, and misgendered even at our funeral by our parents who never really understood 

tell me instead that it’s possible to see you love past the binary 

tell us instead that the trans women who fought back did not die in vain 

talk to us about love 

talk to us about respect 

but especially, if you don’t understand, then talk to us” (p. 11–12) 


Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay is a Québécoise novelist, poet, activist, model, and actor born in 1990 in Saint-Siméon, Québec. She has published two poetry collections, Le ventre des volcans 1 1 Boulianne-Tremblay, Gabrielle. Le ventre des volcans. Les Éditions de l’étoile de mer, 2015, 114 pp. and Les secrets de l’origami, 2 2 Boulianne-Tremblay, Gabrielle. Les secrets de l’origami. Del Busso, 2018, 72 pp. as well as a children’s novel, La voix de la nature. 3 3 Boulianne-Tremblay, Gabrielle. La voix de la nature. Les Éditions Héritage/Dominique et Compagnie, 2022, 114 pp. Dandelion Daughter, her first novel, was originally published in French as La fille d’elle-même 4 4 Boulianne-Tremblay, Gabrielle. La fille d’elle-même. Éditions Marchand de feuilles, 2021, 344 pp. and won the Prix des libraires du Québec in 2022. On the screen, Boulianne-Tremblay is best known for the role of Klas Batalo in the film Ceux qui font les revolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau 5 5 Ceux qui font la revolution à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau. Directed by Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie. art et essai, 2016, 183 minutes. for which she was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the Canadian Screen Awards.  

Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay


Dandelion Daughter is a coming-of-age-style autofiction novel that follows the protagonist as she tries to define herself in a world that refuses to see her as she is. A transition narrative, the text illustrates the ways that Gabrielle’s 6 6 To distinguish the author from her fictional counterpart, Gabrielle refers to the protagonist of the novel, and Boulianne-Tremblay refers to the author. gender expression evolves over the course of her young life. Lacking the language or the support to understand who she is, the narrator describes the pain and the alienation that she experienced, not only in her dysfunctional household, where she was subjected to gender-normative stereotypes, but also at school and at summer camp, where she is bullied by her peers. Gabrielle leaves her small town for Québec City, where she begins to immerse herself in the queer community and experiment with her gender expression. In the last third of the novel, we follow Gabrielle as she begins her transition and moves to Montréal to live openly as a trans woman.  

Situer l’œuvre

This novel is the first French-language autobiographical novel written by a trans woman in Québec. Dandelion Daughter fits into a lineage of first-person narratives exploring transness, contributing Boulianne-Tremblay’s lived experience of both rural and urban Québec. This lineage can be traced to Danish artist Lili Elbe’s posthumously published memoir Man into Woman, 7 7 Elbe, Lili. Man into Woman: A Comparative Scholarly Edition, edited by Pamela L. Caughie and Sabine Meyer, Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 322 pp. “the first autobiographical account of a transsexual life,” 8 8 Jacques, Juliet. “Forms of Resistance: Uses of Memoir, Theory, and Fiction in Trans Life Writing.” Life Writing, vol. 14, no. 3, 2017, p. 358. and includes autobiographical works of both fiction and non-fiction such as Jan Morris’ Conundrum, 9 9 Morris, Jan. Conundrum. NYRB Classics, 2006, 192 pp. Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw, 10 10 Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. Vintage, 2016, 320 pp. Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues, 11 11 Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues. Firebrand Books, 1993, 301 pp.  and Paul B. Preciado’s Testo Junkie. 12 12 Preciado, Paul B. Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in The Pharmacopornographic Era. Feminist Press, 2013, 432 pp.   As Jay Prosser points out, these works position the authors as “constructing subjects: participants and actors who have shaped medical practices as much as they have been shaped by them.” 13 13 Prosser, Jay. Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality. Columbia University Press, 1998, p. 8.

By writing an autofiction novel, Boulianne-Tremblay breaks away from the standard of transition memoirs that create, according to Juliet Jacques, “an impression of people being focused more on themselves than any wider community.” 14 14 Jacques, Juliet. “Forms of Resistance: Uses of Memoir, Theory, and Fiction in Trans Life Writing.” Life Writing, vol. 14, no. 3, 2017, p. 360.  While Dandelion Daughter draws on the author’s lived experience as a trans woman, Boulianne-Tremblay has confirmed that aspects of the novel were fabricated. In this way, the novel also acts as a place of remembrance: It is dedicated to “all [her] disappeared trans sisters and brothers” but also to “little Gabrielle, who didn’t think she would live past sixteen” (p. 5). Gabrielle stands as a witness not only to Boulianne-Tremblay’s life but also to the experiences of other trans people. In a context where “a growing reactionary movement in Canada [is] threatening the safety, freedoms, and rights of 2SLGBTQI people, especially those who are Two-Spirit, trans, nonbinary, and/or gender non-conforming (2STNBGN),” 15 15 Kennedy, Helen. “Open Letter: All Levels of Government in Canada Have a Responsibility …” Egale, 28 Mar. 2023, egale.ca/egale-in-action/open-letter-combat-hate/. her story allows the author to reclaim her identity and her happiness, and to demonstrate how she thrives despite the rising waves of hatred. 

Thèmes & Sujets

A Healing Journey 

Dandelion Daughter is an intimate exploration of finding oneself in a world that refuses to recognise you for who you are. This novel, which Boulianne-Tremblay began writing at the age of 15, is an act of liberation for which she put her silences, her troubles, and her malaise into words, transforming these difficulties into beauty. 16 16 Savoir média. “Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay / La fille d’elle-même – Claudia à la page.” YouTube, 9 Aug. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFzizF80fqo.   Through her work, Boulianne-Tremblay addresses a younger version of herself, a version who does not yet realise that she is trans: “I hold a picture of me as a kid in my hands. This tiny tot who will later be assaulted, intimidated, frequently, frequently betrayed, who will ask what’s the point of dreaming if she’ll always be let down. And I tell her that I love her. That even if I’m in pain, I love her” (p. 243). Told in the first person and using only she/her pronouns to describe the narrator, the novel gives a voice to the little girl that Gabrielle was and validates her identity. Rather than offering her recognition “through social interaction, which is understood in a bifurcated manner—either folks get it right or get it wrong, and what they get right or wrong is explicitly linked back to questions of medical access, binary understandings of gender, and the gender-ideal aesthetic ‘success’ of trans subjects,” 17 17 Malatino, Hil. “Future Fatigue.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 4, 2019, p. 641. Dandelion Daughter gives the narrator control over her own identity, no matter how other characters may perceive her.  


1- In what ways does Gabrielle heal throughout the novel? 

2- Choose one character in the text and analyse their relationship with Gabrielle. What role does this character play in Gabrielle’s life? How do they contribute to, or hinder, her healing journey? Pay particular attention to the way that Gabrielle describes this character and how she describes herself in relation to this character; for example, does she internalize this character’s viewpoint or does she reject it? How do these descriptions change throughout the novel? 


During the proceedings of her parents’ divorce, Gabrielle explains that “[l]iterature is [her] refuge,” accompanying her through “the thickest of silences” (p. 119). Choose a piece of media (a book, a movie, a TV show, a song, or an album) that has accompanied you through a difficult time and present it to the class. This activity encourages students to reflect on art’s place in their lives and share works that they find meaningful.  


This novel explores the theme of regionality, joining a recent wave of Québécois authors who are decentring Montréal in favour of stories that explore rural life in Québec. Discussing questions of national identity in relation to the land, to family, and to language, “regionality is first and foremost a paradoxical oscillation between differentiation and identification.”18 18 18 Langevin, Francis. “La régionalité dans les fictions Québécoises d’aujourd’hui: L’exemple de Sur la 132 de Gabriel Anctil.” temps zéro, no. 6, April 2013, tempszero.contemporain.info/document936. Accessed 20 July 2023. Author’s translation, original quote: « la régionalité est avant tout une oscillation assez paradoxale entre différenciation et identification. »   Tracking the narrator’s life from her childhood in Charlevoix to Québec City, then to Montréal, Dandelion Daughter disrupts the urban-rural binary to explore the possibilities, as well as the difficulties, that await trans people both inside and outside of urban centres.  

Growing up in a small town, Gabrielle must navigate the pressure of local gossip that scrutinizes her family life, and the impossibility of fulfilling the traditionally masculine roles that society tries to enforce on her. Still, living in the region offers her many places to take refuge, like “the woods that [welcome] [her] without judgement” (p. 256) and the Saint Lawrence River, where the icy cold waters guarantee that no one else will be there to bother her and her family (p. 25). Route 138, omnipresent throughout the novel, also offers Gabrielle a line of escape: as the place where she was first recognised as a girl by Thomas, a feeling she compares to “exiting hell” (p. 148), and as the road that carries her to the city, where she finds community among other queer people and begins her transition. After her grandmother dies, Route 138 is the path that leads Gabrielle home, where she is finally able to reconnect with her family as her true self: “As I look at them, one by one, [I] give them my first real smile. They’re all here. I’m here” (p. 272). 


1- How does Dandelion Daughter depict regional life in relation, or in opposition, to urban life? Provide evidence from the novel.  

2- Keeping in mind the themes commonly associated with regionality (land, family, language), analyze the ways that Dandelion Daughter either embraces or rejects tradition. How does the novel’s treatment of tradition rethink conceptions of heritage and identity? 


Gabrielle is a self-proclaimed “feral child” (p. 17) who often seeks refuge in nature, both as a child, in the forests around her village, and as an adult, in her “cabin in the trees” (p. 255) in Montréal. For this activity, students are invited to depict, through a medium of their choosing (story, essay, poetry, visual art), a place where they feel a sense of safety and belonging.  

Style & Esthétique

Dandelion Daughter is a work of poetic prose that employs nature imagery, especially plants and gemstones, to articulate the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. The title of the novel encapsulates this usage: as Nour Abi-Nakhoul points out, “[i]n pediatric psychology, a ‘dandelion child’ is a person who has resilience embedded deeply within them, biologically encoded into their DNA. Like the omnipresent yellow-petalled weed, they will thrive regardless of the environment they’re brought up in — even in situations that would destroy others’ spirits.” 19 19 Abi-Nakhoul, Nour. “Memoir of Multiplicity: A Review of Dandelion Daughter by Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay.” Montreal Review of Books, 16 March 2023, https://mtlreviewofbooks.ca/reviews/dandelion-daughter-boulianne-tremblay/.  

Much like the dandelion, Gabrielle continues to flourish despite the adverse conditions that surround her. Dandelions also act as a metaphor for the trans experience, in that one is reborn when one transitions: “I think about François who told me that dandelions have two lives. It’s beautiful to watch them start their second lives. They seem better like this: light, carefree, liberated from gravity” (p. 96). Dandelion Daughter uses this floral language to normalize Gabrielle’s identity and articulate her experience as a trans woman. Despite the lack of references or role models to shape herself after—as aforementioned, Dandelion Daughter is the first novel of its kind to be published in French in Québec—Gabrielle finds the words to describe herself by observing nature. In this way, she locates beauty not only in nature but also in her journey of self-realization.  

The novel’s nature imagery is further evidenced by the presence of rose quartz, which Gabrielle first discovers while staying with her cousin. She immediately feels a connection with the gemstone, which emanates femininity and grace (p. 109). Later in the novel, Gabrielle’s grandmother presents her with a rose quartz pendant (p. 134). Rose quartz symbolises Gabrielle’s femininity; it also allows Gabrielle to strengthen her tie to her maternal grandmother. Overall, the novel draws on natural resources often associated with regionality to validate Gabrielle’s trans identity.  


Thom, Kai Cheng. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir. Metonymy Press, 2016, 200 pp.  

Adapting elements of fantasy and surrealism, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars is an autofiction memoir that follows a trans woman protagonist who lives on the “Street of Miracles” alongside other trans women and sex workers. A French translation of the book, Fèms magnifiques et dangereuses, was published by Éditions XYZ in 2021.  

Snorton, C. Riley. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. University of Minnesota Press, 2017, 272 pp.  

Black on Both Sides analyzes how the categories of race and gender came to be invented. The book intertwines the histories of blackness and transness to demonstrate how slavery and the production of racialized gender provided the foundation for an understanding of gender as mutable.  

Preciado, Paul B. Can the Monster Speak?: A Report to an Academy of Psychoanalysts, translated by Frank Wynne, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2021, 88 pp. 

An English translation of Je suis un monstre qui vous parle (Éditions Grasset, 2020). In November 2019, Paul B. Preciado was invited to speak at the École de la Cause Freudienne’s annual conference in Paris. Criticizing psychoanalysis for its complicity with the ideology of sexual difference, Preciado calls for a transformation of psychoanalytic discourses and practices to allow for a variety of lived experiences.  

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen. Directed by Sam Feder, 2020, 100 minutes. Netflix 

In this documentary, Sam Feder explores the question of trans representation in television and cinema, demonstrating the interconnectedness between trans representation, societal beliefs, and the reality of trans lives.  

Malatino, Hil. Trans Care. University of Minnesota Press, 2020, 90 pp.  

This book is a reflection on—and radical rethinking of—the ethics and labour of care as they apply to trans lives.  

Boulianne-Tremblay, Gabrielle, and Eden Boudreau. “Women Asking Women: Eden Boudreau and Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay.” All Lit Up, 24 March 2023, https://alllitup.ca/women-asking-women-eden-boudreau-and-gabrielle-boulianne-tremblay/. 

An interview between Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay and Eden Boudreau. The two authors discuss topics like writing sexual assault, healing through writing, and the reception of their texts among queer readers.  


Transgender identity

Transgender identity is a term that has emerged only in the last few decades, and its definition is still under construction. Susan Stryker uses the term transgender as follows: 

[T]o refer to people who move away from the gender they were assigned at birth, people who cross over (trans-) the boundaries constructed by their culture to define and contain that gender … In any case, it is the movement across a socially imposed boundary away from an unchosen starting place, rather than any particular destination or mode of transition, that best characterizes the concept of transgender that I develop here. 20 20 Stryker, Susan. Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution. Seal Press, 2017, p. 1.

While in the hospital receiving care after being sexually assaulted, Gabrielle is offered a pamphlet about transgender identity by a nurse; she describes this pamphlet as being “like a revelation” (p. 188). Finding the words to name her experience, Gabrielle is finally able to find community and validation among other trans people, who she meets through online forums, and seek out gender-affirming care.  

Autres définitions


Originally meaning strange or odd, the word queer became a derogatory term used to describe (people with) samesex attractions. In the 1980s, this insult was reappropriated by members of the LGBT community as a neutral or positive self-descriptor, 21 21 See, for example, Queercore 22 22  (2017), a documentary that discusses the history of the queercore movement, which was founded by Toronto-based artists G. B. Jones and Bruce LaBruce 23 23 .   becoming “an umbrella term for people outside of the heterosexual norm, or for people who challenge the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans) ‘mainstream’. It can also be a way of challenging norms around gender and sexuality through different ways of thinking or acting.” 24 24 Barker, Meg-John, and Julia Scheele. Queer: A Graphic History 25 25 . Icon Books, 2016, p. 7.  The term queer remains problematic: Despite becoming common currency among many members of the LGBTQIA+ community, many people still hold painful memories of this word being used to hurt them. These sometimes-contradictory points of view coexist and testify to the ways that queerness, as a concept and as an identity category, is still in full evolution. After starting her transition, Gabrielle begins to frequent gay bars, where she can explore her femininity more openly without fear of assault. In these spaces, she forms a “circle of queer friends” (p. 205): a community of people who understand and respect her identity.  

Autres définitions


L’Espace de la diversité recognizes the generous support of the Canada Council, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, and the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon.   

  • Coordination: Emma Telaro 
  • Research and Writing: James Dickson 
  • Editing: Danielle Carter

Espace de la diversité 

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Phone: 438-383-2433 



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