Oh friends, I’ve been gone so long and yet not gone anywhere but inside my big, sweet heart and head. I’m doing The Artist’s Way and life coaching and as Lynnee Breedlove, my coach, says “Filling the well. Putting gas in the tank.” I’m still brewing some interesting mind blowing blog topics, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I have a book to recommend to keep you company! It’s Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Just released on Seal Press it is extremely accessible and interesting.
The term “anthology” makes me think of things that are stuffy or academic. However, this reads more like an extremely well-edited and organized zine, which I believe is to its credit. Transgressing the anthology format, as the editors and authors transgress gender and sexuality. Some of the contributions are only a couple of pages and pack just as much punch as their lengthier counterparts. I love having something to read that can fit well between subway stops, which is where most of my reading takes place.
The editors use an AOL Instant Messenger format (old school!) for the introduction, intermission and conclusion of the book. They also discuss the topic of the next genderation, usage of the controversial terms “tranny” and “cisgender” and the reactions to both Kate and Bear when they came out as transgender during different genderations. I love that they’re not afraid to say what they think in this conversation and they really go there.
Me, giving Kate an umbrella sheathed like sword with a sword handle from SITE Design at Rebel Cupcake.
I also loved the organization of the anthology. I love systems of creative organization and this just tickled me.
Part One: Do I look like an outlaw to you?
Part Two: Being reconfigured is not the same as being reimagined.
Part Three: …which is why I’m as cute as I happen to be.
Part Four: It might not be a picnic but there’s a great buffet.
Part Five: And still we rise.
Several of the contributions resonated with me, including a touching account of “The Manly Art of Pregnancy” by J Wallace, which did a lot to counter the version of the “Pregnant Man” propagated in the media a couple of years ago.
I really loved the comic Transcension by Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes. I love words and their application of language theory to finding a place within and without identity labels was extremely well-illustrated, both in text and pictures.
Scott Turner Schofield’s intense and powerful “The Wrong Body” has been swimming around in my head for weeks. It’s such a stunning and succinct narrative of why, as a fetus, he chose to be born a baby girl. “I saw that I would have time to appreciate my journey, with the head to understand it as a gift and the heart to achieve my whole self through all the trials it takes.”
And there are contributions to this anthology by trans allies as well. The piece that had me crying on the subway was Fran Varian’s “Daddy Gets the Big Piece of Chicken.” She weaves a gorgeous comparison to preparations for a date with her gender-variant lover and her working class family’s gender roles.
She shows the beautiful nuance of the unspoken dance between gendered energy and the ways in which we care for each other in our gender queer (and queer in other ways) relationships. “You walk on the outside, closest to the street. You do this because we are moving targets, even in San Francisco. You do this because you have been attacked for the masculinity you have constructed and because I am precious to you.” How lucky to have someone tell you how precious you are to them; luckier still to have someone show you how precious you are.
While I always want you, precious reader, to shop at a local feminist bookstore, if you buy Gender Outlaws: TNG on the internet and clickie through my link I get a tiny referral fee and it goes to buy me books and other delights.
NYC Readers! There is a reading at Bluestockings by some of the authors of Gender Outlaws: TNG (including Kate!) on October 8!
Rebel Cupcake photos by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.