"Wait, Re." Liam runs after me. "You be the daddy. Daddies are cool. You can come home with a surprise for Mommy. Like you won a million dollars, so you bought me a new house and a car." (2.16)
From an early age Liam's been giving off pretty clear signals that he wants to be a girl. After all, aren't most little boys convinced that all girls have cooties?
Pretty. A word for girls. The way handsome described boys. Liam was right; people did use boy and girl language. They expected different behaviors. When kids acted "out of role," as Liam put it, they were labeled tomboys or sissies. (6.25)
Even the kids that Regan babysits for know gender normative words to describe themselves. No one ever strays out of this, and it can be pretty difficult for people like Luna, who don't fit into their expected roles.
Most girls spend hours and hours working on themselves so they'll be striking, eye-catching, desirable. Liam would give everything to live one day as a plain, ordinary girl. (6.84)
Poor Liam—he doesn't want to be special or unique. He just wants to be a girl that no one would look at twice on the street.
Liam shrugged. "You never know. It's not either or. There are shades of gray to people's gender." (8.99)
"No." Liam placed a hand on her shoulder. "No, it's nothing like that. I'm not sick. I'm… a girl." (21.19)
It's pretty depressing that Aly would rather have Liam tell her that he was gay or had AIDS instead of the truth.
"He's not gay," I said. "He's trans. He's not what he appears. He'll show you. He's going to change into her girl role. Except, it's not really a role. It's who he really is. Luna. Who she is." (21.46)
People just can't seem to get that Liam isn't changing into another person—Luna represents who she has always been inside. By being Luna, she just being more herself than before.
"It's men's cologne," She stated flatly. "Tell him I would've gotten him perfume if I'd known. He can exchange it." (23.71)
Even though they've been best friends since childhood, Aly can't accept that Luna is the same person she's always known—the only difference is her name and clothes. Aly begrudgingly gives Luna a birthday present because she still means a lot to her, but the present demonstrates how much Aly is still struggling with Luna.
I lowered my voice and said, "He's still the same person you've always known. Just happier as a girl." (23.75)
Luna can only be happy when she's expressing her true gender, so even though it hurts the people around her, she cannot help but let this side of her shine.
"No," he whines. "I want it off. Take it off, take it off, take it off." He starts slapping at his penis and stamping his feet, throwing a fit. (24.103)
It's clear that Luna has never felt like a boy—even as a little kid she was horrified by the body parts that made her distinctly male. That's definitely not what happens for kids who feel like their sex and gender match up.
Suddenly, it struck me—I'd never see my brother again. Liam. A hole opened in my heart. "It's okay," my inner voice said. "He'll be okay. He's happy." (26.164)
When Luna leaves on that airplane, Regan will have to say goodbye to her brother forever. She'll always have a sibling in Luna, but Liam will never come back.