"Normal" is an excellent, pull-no-punches look at transsexualism. The writer/director taylors her story to show many sides of the issue: the wife's initial hostility and confusion, the church's nonacceptance, the tough workplace, and the struggle of Ruth's children. The director is careful to make Ruth into an every-transsexual, as she has two children: a girl who is accepting and a boy who has to come to blows with his father before he finally comes around. She makes Ruth transition in a small midwestern town, a really tough place, in order to bring out some of the worst that can happen. Ruth's workplace is a testosterone-filled factory and the coworkers have a violent reaction when Ruth shows up in a pair of earrings. The small town atmosphere permeates the story and reveals the ignorance of small town people, but also some surprising support and acceptance, even if it is after a hard-fought battle.
My main criticism is that the timeline is hard to follow. Ruth seems to transition much more quickly than most transsexuals, and she makes many mistakes, such as the above-mentioned earrings at work, the perfume she wears on the job, and the falsetto singing that gets her kicked out of choir. We never learn how Ruth gets her hormones, or how she gets permission for sex reassignment surgery--as all transsexuals know, there are gatekeeper issues in transition, and the director never reveals that side of Ruth's struggle.
In all, though, this is an entertaining and well crafted story, and it should help in the struggle for acceptance that all transgendered people go through. See it with your family, and learn to accept the diversity of the population around all of us.