Advocates Rajunov and Duane gather 30 short first-person essays about the experience of “discovering, defining, contracting, creating, and experiencing gender in a unique way.”
The editors cover a lot of ground in this collection. Abigail describes parenting her agender child, and Jules De La Cruz, whose wife was pregnant at the time De La Cruz wrote the essay, considers how “mother” and “father” are inadequate terms for nonbinary parents. In discussing her journey, CK Combs examines the process of “building an authentic understanding of misogyny and feminism, and the ability to step into male privilege with that knowledge.” Sand C. Chang offers one of the more creatively structured essays, first offering a sort of micro-essay on the various meanings of the word “token” and then taking up the form of a daily calendar entry to capture “A Day in the Life of a Nonbinary Gender Therapist.” Threading throughout the book is the theme of questioning, exploration, journey, and process: As Combs suggests, the “What are you?” question may be best answered in the present, and answering may never be a completed task. Many essays touch on the power of clothing to concoct and disrupt gender identity; on experiences, positive and negative, of working with therapists; and on the exhaustion of “passing” and “gender fatigue.” Religion also features: Jaye Ware describes being rejected by—and rejecting—church. Avery Erickson reports from a Buddhist retreat. Looking around the communal male bathroom, Erickson felt “a sense of otherness” bubbling up, but it was apt that this feeling should emerge at a retreat because “I came to this retreat…to see what is true” and “to be aware of this life and be with this moment, just as they are.” Erickson shows that the Zen idea of “ ‘simultaneous inclusion’ of the relative and the absolute” may be a good metaphor—or even grammar—for gender identity.
A useful resource for people exploring their own gender identities, as well as for their families and friends.