Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Gender Outlaws: A Vocabulary for Understanding
This review might be full of serious but embarrassing admissions. Things like...until two years ago, I had no idea what cisgender meant. Or even that it was a word. By extension cis male and cis female were completely alien to me. I went into Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, with the expectation that I would learn a lot (because I knew, really, nothing), but I got even more than I bargained for.
An expanded vocabulary has happened. Besides the terms above: pangender, bigender, cisnormativity, feminine or masculine presenting, FtM, MtF, etc. I could go on for a while (Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Terms). While I feel ultra stupid, I don't exist in a day-to-day environment where these terms are utilized. Small town Texans are not so much in favor (generally) of discussing gender identity or thinking beyond binaries. A person might get shot for that (only a little kidding). Thank you, Internet, for throwing open the doors of experience and understanding because it was in conversation with friends online that I realized I was missing a lot.
I feel like this book was a great starting point for someone who wishes to gain a greater understanding of the breadth of experience across the gender identity continuum. There were experiences included in these essays and poetry, performance art and comics that touched, entertained, and educated me. As Goodreads puts it, Bornstein and Bergman "collect and contextualize the work of this generation's trans and genderqueer forward thinkers." It blew the top of my head off in the best way, and I can't wait to read more. If you're interested, I have a whole list of book recommendations here that represent LGBTQ+ issues and marginalized voices thanks to Cass.
Seal Press, August 2010
Purchased by me during a Seal Press ebook sale!