"In the fifteen years since the release of Gender Outlaw, Kate Bornstein's groundbreaking challenge to gender ideology, transgender narratives have made their way from the margins to the mainstream. Today's transpeople, genderqueers, and other sex/gender radicals are writing a drastically new world into being. Gender Outlaws, edited by the original gender outlaw, Bornstein, together with writer, raconteur, and theater artist S. Bear Bergman, collects and contextualizes the work of this generation's trans and genderqueer forward thinkers -- new voices from the stage, on the streets, in the workplace, in the bedroom, and on the pages and websites of the world's most respected news sources. Gender Outlaws includes essays, commentary, comic art, and conversation from a diverse group of trans-spectrum people who live and believe in barrier-breaking lives." -- Publisher description.
And that is one of the beauties of this book: it shows how members of the trans community have made their way through life; their problems, their solutions, the abuse they’ve endured, the joys and love they cherish. And it shows the incredible variety of genders that exist-a trans-man who gives birth, a ciswoman who performs as a drag queen, an intersex, people who do not consider themselves male or female and that general society has no pronouns for.
The problems that people in the trans community face are numerous, from getting medical care to legal standing to just using a public bathroom or going to the gym. I hope that this book gets a huge circulation and goes a long ways towards getting society to understand and accept trans people and make the changes that need to be made.
Gender Outlaws collects fifty-five short works by fifty-seven creators, including Bornstein and Bergman. The contributions are roughly divided into five vaguely thematic groupings: 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." and Part Five, "And still we rise." Also included are acknowledgments and sections devoted to the individual contributors and editors. Each piece is rather short--none are over twenty pages long and most are only five or so pages with plenty that are even less.
Gender Outlaws contains some powerful stuff. Generally, I expect these sorts of collections to vary in quality from piece to piece, but every one of these was strong. Certainly some spoke more to me on a personal level than others, but I was able to take something away from each offering. It's difficult for me to choose a favorite (really, they all were fantastic), but probably the piece that stood out most for me was "trancension," a comic by Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes. Some entries were amusing, some charming, some heartbreaking, some challenging, but they were all unique and worthwhile. Overall, the collection is very positive and forward thinking although it doesn't ignore the problems, issues, and challenges that trans and queer folk still face today. Happily, things have progressed since Bornstein wrote Gender Outlaw which is one of the reasons this collection was created.
What most impressed me about Gender Outlaws was the wide variety and diversity exhibited by the content and creators. More than three hundred people submitted work to be considered for the collection and Bornstein and Bergman have done a marvelous job in selecting and editing the pieces together into one book. I appreciated the different viewpoints and experiences that each contributor brought to Gender Outlaws; they didn't always agree on everything and I found that to be illuminating and valuable in and of itself. A whole spectrum of gender identity, sexualities, religions, nationalities, and more make up the list of creators. I also loved the range of work included in Gender Outlaws, everything from academic essays to creative nonfiction, poetry, transcripts, and comics. Regardless what form it takes, each entry is intensely personal and makes Gender Outlaws an absolutely fabulous collection.
Experiments in Reading