Author: Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
Publisher/Year: Seal Press/2010
Date Finished: 15 November 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, GLBT Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
Gender Outlaws is a series of poems, essays, comic strips, etc. which offers insight into a variety of trans* issues.
A Bit of a Ramble
So many different perspectives are presented in this text; however, intersectionality drove many essays in the book. Focusing on the vast space between in the gender binary, these essays are quite unique despite the commonality. Gwendolyn Ann Smith's essay, "We're All Somebody's Freak", resonated with me as encapsulating the primary theme throughout the text. She writes:
"We live in a world of incredible variations, where there are some 200,000 species of moths and butterflies to be found in this planet, where biodiversity is the very thing that keeps the whole complex system in tune. The notion of classifying things and then claiming that only this or that is a proper version of some being is a distinctly human construct, full of arrogance and hubris."
The insistence of the dominant ideology on prescribing specific and set gender roles does violate a basic law of nature: variation is highly beneficial, too much of the same is bad.
My favorite essay, as of this moment, comes from CT Whitley. "Trans-Corporation: A benefit analysis of a transgender man in a corporate setting" tells the story of Whitley's time as a financial officer in New York. You may expect the rest of the essay to talk about the difficulty of working in (what is widely considered as) a conservative, relatively homogeneous environment. Not so. This article is much more interesting and unique. Whitley has "a female past and a male present" providing him with invaluable insight into gendered communication. His ability to manipulate his own style of communication to address particular audiences not only gave him opportunities for promotion, it also put him in a unique position to act as a sort of translator between the biomales and biofemales in his office. I love this.
I want him to come to my classes and give a presentation. Seriously, if anyone reading this knows him or knows someone who knows him or even has a third cousin twice removed who once dated his mother's old tennis instructor, tell him I need him. Typically my philosophizing on gendered communication takes place with Deborah Tannen, who is absolutely fantastic. Reading this essay gave me a whole new perspective on the issue, however, and now I want more.
Okay so back to the book as a whole... I found this to be a wonderfully informative collection; although I will admit that by the end I was reading pretty dang fast, a wee bit ready for the end. And a few of the entries were a bit too figurative for me - but I completely recognize that that is my own issue. Poetry is not my thing and overly figurative poetry is really really not my thing. As with any collection of works by disparate authors, my enjoyment depended on the piece: I absolutely adored about half the entries, was ambivalent about a few, and didn't enjoy a few. Overall though, I would highly recommend it for those I did love.
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For much more intelligent and comprehensive reviews of the book, head over to The Bilerico Project: daily experiments in LGBTQ and Lambda Literary.
Side Note: Be sure to go nominate books for the GLBTQ Indie Lit Awards