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GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary

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Perhaps more than any other issue, gender identity has galvanized the queer community in recent years. The questions go beyond the nature of male/female to a yet-to-be-traversed region that lies somewhere between and beyond biologically determined gender. In this groundbreaking anthology, three experts in gender studies and politics navigate around rigid, societally impose Perhaps more than any other issue, gender identity has galvanized the queer community in recent years. The questions go beyond the nature of male/female to a yet-to-be-traversed region that lies somewhere between and beyond biologically determined gender. In this groundbreaking anthology, three experts in gender studies and politics navigate around rigid, societally imposed concepts of two genders to discover and illuminate the limitless possibilities of identity. Thirty first-person accounts of gender construction, exploration, and questioning provide a groundwork for cultural discussion, political action, and even greater possibilities of autonomous gender choices. Noted scholar Joan Nestle is joined by internationally prominent gender warrior Riki Anne Wilchins and historian Clare Howell to provide a societal, cultural, and political exploration of gender identity. Marketing Plans: National Advertising: The Advocate Academic mailing to gender studies and queer studies professors Media campaign hilighting authors Nestle and Wilchins Joan Nestle is the cofounder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York and the writer and editor of six books including the groundbreaking Women on Women series. Riki Anne Wilchins is the executive director of GenderPAC, the national gender advocacy group, and the cofounder of the Gender Identity Project of New York City's Lesbian and Gay Center. She is the author of Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender. Clare Howell is a senior librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library.


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Perhaps more than any other issue, gender identity has galvanized the queer community in recent years. The questions go beyond the nature of male/female to a yet-to-be-traversed region that lies somewhere between and beyond biologically determined gender. In this groundbreaking anthology, three experts in gender studies and politics navigate around rigid, societally impose Perhaps more than any other issue, gender identity has galvanized the queer community in recent years. The questions go beyond the nature of male/female to a yet-to-be-traversed region that lies somewhere between and beyond biologically determined gender. In this groundbreaking anthology, three experts in gender studies and politics navigate around rigid, societally imposed concepts of two genders to discover and illuminate the limitless possibilities of identity. Thirty first-person accounts of gender construction, exploration, and questioning provide a groundwork for cultural discussion, political action, and even greater possibilities of autonomous gender choices. Noted scholar Joan Nestle is joined by internationally prominent gender warrior Riki Anne Wilchins and historian Clare Howell to provide a societal, cultural, and political exploration of gender identity. Marketing Plans: National Advertising: The Advocate Academic mailing to gender studies and queer studies professors Media campaign hilighting authors Nestle and Wilchins Joan Nestle is the cofounder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York and the writer and editor of six books including the groundbreaking Women on Women series. Riki Anne Wilchins is the executive director of GenderPAC, the national gender advocacy group, and the cofounder of the Gender Identity Project of New York City's Lesbian and Gay Center. She is the author of Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender. Clare Howell is a senior librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library.

30 review for GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This is a collection of essays/stories by people who don't fit into the neat packages of 'male' and 'female'. A number of them defy any labels, while others identify by their gender or sexual orientation, but aren't quite what you'd expect from that label. I did find it all interesting, but there was a lot more discussion of sex than I was expecting. It gives the impression that gender is all about (or mostly about) sex. Not a lot of asexual voices in here, for one thing. It's also a little inacce This is a collection of essays/stories by people who don't fit into the neat packages of 'male' and 'female'. A number of them defy any labels, while others identify by their gender or sexual orientation, but aren't quite what you'd expect from that label. I did find it all interesting, but there was a lot more discussion of sex than I was expecting. It gives the impression that gender is all about (or mostly about) sex. Not a lot of asexual voices in here, for one thing. It's also a little inaccessible (wait, bad term, scratch that term). There are a number of references to people, places, events, and a lot of terms and acronyms that the writers and editors just expect you to know. It seems to be written with the LGB if not even also T community in mind. Now, I'm not ignorant, but there were a number of things that went over my head completely. And it took me a minute to figure out what GB meant. There are some really good ones in here. A few I even half-identified with. But even though I didn't identify with any of them fully, you sort of glean that it's okay that you don't. Because most of these writers are trying to carve their own path amongst all the labels. Weirdly, I kept thinking this was published in the early 90's. But it was 2002, I think. I kept having to remind myself that it really wasn't that old. Still, a lot has changed in even 8 years. Resources and information and community are a lot easier to find on the Internet now. I'd like to see another anthology like this, aimed at teens, maybe. More current. Less sex. More diversity of voices.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    DNF at 60%. This book was published in 2002 and, to my knowledge, contains essays dating back to 1995. It is a testament to the absolute clusterfuck of early Gender Studies, especially around transgender and genderqueer issues. There are pages of just rambling on about some abstract concept of genderqueerness and what that means, what it doesn't mean. Halfway through the book there's an uplifting interview with Sylvia Rivera published. That was the high point. I gave up after the third or fourth DNF at 60%. This book was published in 2002 and, to my knowledge, contains essays dating back to 1995. It is a testament to the absolute clusterfuck of early Gender Studies, especially around transgender and genderqueer issues. There are pages of just rambling on about some abstract concept of genderqueerness and what that means, what it doesn't mean. Halfway through the book there's an uplifting interview with Sylvia Rivera published. That was the high point. I gave up after the third or fourth essay from a femme lesbian who is either confused or repulsed OR both, over trans men. The essay in particular I gave up on was 5 or so pages of whining from a femme lesbian who is so bothered by trans men who previously identified as stone butch, coming out as trans men and "invalidating" femme lesbians, that she goes so far as to sexualize herself as a child. Also her stone butch partner has a brief spotlight where she refers to trans men as "female freaks". I am SO glad I came out as transgender in this era and not any other era; even 15 years ago -- that is not to invalidate those who paved the way for me, but to express relief that I don't only have the musings of some of the people in this anthology to go off of. Would NOT recommend.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lobeck

    Holy crap, the intro essays are boring - and not particularly well-written. It's no wonder I never made it through this book the first time I tried. I am unimpressed with the idea that emerges in these essays that genderqueer folks have it harder than transexual folks. I dislike this theme equally in reverse, as it is divisive and pointless and doesn't get the trans community anywhere. We all struggle for different reasons, and I don't find it helpful to fight about who has a harder time. There a Holy crap, the intro essays are boring - and not particularly well-written. It's no wonder I never made it through this book the first time I tried. I am unimpressed with the idea that emerges in these essays that genderqueer folks have it harder than transexual folks. I dislike this theme equally in reverse, as it is divisive and pointless and doesn't get the trans community anywhere. We all struggle for different reasons, and I don't find it helpful to fight about who has a harder time. There are a few excellent short stories (personal narrative style) that are well worth the read and thankfully make up the majority of the book. I don't find it particularly insightful as far as gender goes, though if it were my first book on trans/genderqueer identities, I might have gotten more out of it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darceylaine

    A few essays of solid gender theory followed by many many first person essays by folks all along the gender borders. Some narratives are better than others, but it's great to have so many different voices. It gives a rich picture of the gender frontier. A few essays of solid gender theory followed by many many first person essays by folks all along the gender borders. Some narratives are better than others, but it's great to have so many different voices. It gives a rich picture of the gender frontier.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zefyr

    Dear Riki Wilchins, I've been crediting the story about Jenell at the end of this quote to Kate Bornstein for years. My poor memory. Oops. If gender is always a bending of self toward prevailing norms, then gender is always a kind of displacement, from which not even genderqueers are immune. For instance, Clare Howell recently said to me, "I know I sound like a man." This kind of displacement repositions her voice as coming from somewhere else. This is like the cross-dresser who declares, "I like Dear Riki Wilchins, I've been crediting the story about Jenell at the end of this quote to Kate Bornstein for years. My poor memory. Oops. If gender is always a bending of self toward prevailing norms, then gender is always a kind of displacement, from which not even genderqueers are immune. For instance, Clare Howell recently said to me, "I know I sound like a man." This kind of displacement repositions her voice as coming from somewhere else. This is like the cross-dresser who declares, "I like wearing women's clothes." It's safe to say that no cross-dresser ever wore "women's clothes." If the bill came to him, they're his clothes, he bought them: They're obviously men's clothes. The displacement in naming them "women's clothes" prevents us from getting outside the terms of the language, from getting to something new that might redefine skirts or dresses or femininity as being about men. Many cross-dressers would reply that the point of dressing for them is that these are women's clothes. It is the otherness of the clothing, the fact that they are "women's," that is precisely what allows them to feel feminine. But once again, we can't get to someplace new, where femininity might be something about men that is not anchored in Woman (or vice versa)... I don't mean to fall into the familiar trap of criticizing those who want to eat their cake but not have it. Some genderqueers, including cross-dressers, are not interested in that "something new." They will always enjoy appropriation as appropriation for its own sake. These strategic displacements renounce ownership and participation. They announce that "this part of my gender isn't me, it belongs to someone else, I only appropriate/approximate it." They announce an acceptance of a particular gender's rules of access, who "owns" which words and who is allowed to use them. For instance, it's not possible for Clare to declare, "I sound like other men with breasts" or "I sound like other women trapped in male impersonators' bodies" or "I sound like a Clare," because those are not legitimate categories of description. By definition Clare must sound like something else, because her own body is not among the available choices. Jenell, one of my favorite cross-dressers, always reminds me that hir enjoyment is transgression itself. If microminiskirts ever became fashionable for men, she'll have to decamp and find something else that is queer. In this sense, we are working somewhat at cross purposes. We both want to end the intolerable discrimination suffered by those who transcend gender stereotypes. But while I want to empty out those margins and bring queerness into the mainstream, she'd rather keep transgression in place, where s/he can enjoy it, but end its stigmatization. In retrospect, I think we both are right. Riki Wilchins' "A Certain Kind of Freedom: Power and the Truth of Bodies--Four Essays on Gender" opens the book. I disagree with Wilchins's initial "if", insofar as a) if gender is always an action, it is not always a reflexive one (and in fact I would suggest that there is room for comparison of cultures based on proportion of gender acted upon others to gender acted upon selves), and b) to call it a "bending" suggests a willful compliance and self-modification that is not in fact performed by all people who are gendered, by self or others; I think it's more accurate to say gender is a performance of comparison to prevailing norms of sex (because there are many norms out there that intersect with this one but are not identical). However her "then" is, I think, still relevant, and that story about Jenell has made this clusterfuck of priorities stick in my head as necessary to keep in mind regarding trans politics. Peggy Munson's essay "Liminal" still puts terror in me. While reading it first I was more and more frustrated with it, and then I said "oh" aloud, and then I had to stop and read the same sentence over and over until I couldn't anymore. I won't quote it here; even the typing out feels too personal. I'm keeping that text for me. You have to go read it for yourself. "Sometimes," the woman speaker said to her rapt audience, "we just have to draw a line between male and female..." I could argue with her on the field of reason, but I didn't. First of all, I knew her objections weren't stemming from any reasonable space. She was scared, plain and simple. Scared of finding penises in her restroom and testosterone in her girlfriends and probably a whole lot of other things too. No matter what I said, I probably wouldn't change her mind, because I wouldn't be addressing her fears--fears that were, in a sense, reasonable. After all, we are advocating an entire renovation of the gender system. We may disagree on what it should look like, but we're pretty much in favor of bringing on the drills and chisels. We shouldn't pretend otherwise; it insults the intelligence of the frightened masses. Yes, what you fear is true. And you know what? You'll live. Raven Kaldera in "Do It On the Dotted Line" is spot on. I wish he was as good at listening to trans people as he is at talking to cis people. My body is not female; it is intersexed. Nonconsensual surgery cannot erase intersexuality and produce whole males and females; it produces emotionally abused and sexually dysfunctional intersexuals. If I label my postsurgical anatomy female, I ascribe to surgeons the power to create a woman by removing body parts. I accede to their agenda of "woman as lack." I collaborate in the prohibition of my intersexual identity. Cheryl Chase, "Affronting Reason". She's perhaps the best known person in intersex activism and with good reason. I am not transgressing gender; it is gender that transgresses me. I want my body back. Stacey Montgomery's "Twenty Passings" made me feel less alone. I read most of this book while working graveyards solo in an empty call center at least half a mile away from any occupied buildings, looking out at a freeway, between the hours of midnight and four thirty AM when there weren't many if any calls. Every day on public transit I was the person operating backward, going home when they were going to work and vice versa. When people were around at work they would start to talk to me about gender, and about mine...and I didn't really see people much outside of work. I finally did get, am getting my body back, sort of. I had to take it kicking and screaming. There are other essays in this book too, of varying quality. Nestle's essay struck me as chasery and gross, and there were a number of others that seemed, well, super into gender in ways that I just didn't relate to. But jeez, not that this is where it all began, but this came out a month before I came out as trans. Two months later, one of my classmates from elementary school started testosterone, and six months later he was interviewed in People and on Oprah about being a trans man. This is what I'm talking about when I say that I came out at a critical time, and that my experience is so impacted by that - there was a certain critical point of visibility going on, especially for trans men, and genderqueer visibility became so interrelated with that as a visible point in activism, and...it's complicated. This is not a perfect book, and I'd be hard-pressed to call it a good book, and it's certainly not a favorite book, but it's an important book to understanding why the trans and genderqueer and intersex communities look the way they do today, and it's part of my own history, and it's from before Wilchins went off all GenderPAC-happy (there's always more money in protecting the gender rights of rich white cis daughters playing soccer).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Danni Green

    This was one of the first books I encountered when I was starting to question my gender identity as a teenager, and I'd read it many times back then, but haven't touched it in years. I loved going back and experiencing these old-familiar stories again. I was especially delighted to find that some of the pieces in this book were written by people I've become friends with since then! This was one of the first books I encountered when I was starting to question my gender identity as a teenager, and I'd read it many times back then, but haven't touched it in years. I loved going back and experiencing these old-familiar stories again. I was especially delighted to find that some of the pieces in this book were written by people I've become friends with since then!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karmelle

    Excellent. Not brand new and still covers ways of thinking, existing and identifying that many of us have yet to ponder. Empowering and reassuring.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This book is a collection of short pieces that actually divide into two books: the majority are short personal essays, while the first sixty pages are intro and theory. Both of these were wonderful and I recommend the whole book, although I can certainly see the two parts being worthwhile to people in different amounts or at different times or coming from different places. I found the theory articles to be eye-opening, as someone who hadn't been exposed to these ideas before (and particularly to This book is a collection of short pieces that actually divide into two books: the majority are short personal essays, while the first sixty pages are intro and theory. Both of these were wonderful and I recommend the whole book, although I can certainly see the two parts being worthwhile to people in different amounts or at different times or coming from different places. I found the theory articles to be eye-opening, as someone who hadn't been exposed to these ideas before (and particularly to ideas of gender being the core issue, of challenging the binary framework that asks the question in the first place, that marginalizes people who don't fit the neat boxes that gay movements have carved out, etc). The personal pieces were amazing and many of them emotional and powerful. Hearing about how other people experience life, in their own words, is enlightening in a way that reading theory can't be. And it's comforting, even when the stories are troubling, to hear people sharing experiences that, while different, have parallels with your own. And even when there is no parallel, it's still powerful to have your view of the world expanded by hearing how people experience the world differently than you. I would also recommend this part of the book to anyone who is or wants to write about their personal experiences. I really want to hug this book. The book is not perfect, though. The stories do not represent all experiences. They are mostly urban. At times I felt that the authors failed to account for the experiences of asexual people. It is a decade old. (And the inclusion of a piece by JT LeRoy is fascinating.) But despite these problems, it was a wonderful starting point for me, and I highly recommend it. I want to post so many excepts from the book on social media, because they still point out relevant ideas that shake up one's way of looking at the world that the mainstream and queer mainstream are just not challenging.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    This book is amazingly affirming and eye-opening. It is a true testament to diversity and all the invisible groups and individuals within the queer community. If you are seeking to understand the transgender, genderqueer, even butch and femme communities, all those gendered (or not) self-expressions which generally go undiscussed, this book will really help. And if you are looking for ideas/support for your own expressions, look no further. The essays on gender are very insightful and incredibly This book is amazingly affirming and eye-opening. It is a true testament to diversity and all the invisible groups and individuals within the queer community. If you are seeking to understand the transgender, genderqueer, even butch and femme communities, all those gendered (or not) self-expressions which generally go undiscussed, this book will really help. And if you are looking for ideas/support for your own expressions, look no further. The essays on gender are very insightful and incredibly easy and fun to read, as well as eminently quotable. The stories are touching and widely varied, so if you are queer in any form, I believe you are bound to connect and identify with at least one. Even if not, the understanding it can provide is well worth the time - it's a quick, delicious read, easily read in chapter installments before bedtime. I wouldn't recommend this as a gift to those unfamiliar with the trans or queer community, as it is very radical (I found it comfortingly so, but). It also contains a lot of terminology used within the queer community, without definitions, which can be off-putting. I do think it does a decent job of being introductory to the topic, though, at least in the essays, and it's definitely thought-provoking. Highly recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    maddi1134

    Fantastic collection of essays on gender! While not a new topic to me, there were still some ah ha! moments while reading. And so many short essays to share with friends on the experience of genderqueerness. Great read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    FANTASTIC!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tree Olive

    I mark 5 stars a lot... books are sweet. This book is actually the most impressive work on breaking apart gender that I have read though...of the nonfiction type..

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sassafras Lowrey

    one of the first collections i found that really brought to life the lives of other genderqueer folks

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    “If only we didn’t inhabit a world where every one of eight billion human beings must fit themselves into one of only two genders.” -Riki Wilchins Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC! It’s quite remarkable that this collection exists. All of these unique voices—ones that are too often silenced— coming together to create a powerful, undeniable chorus of queerness. I’m thrilled that this book was made and its truths and stories and opinions can fill my head. “Having any gender at all i “If only we didn’t inhabit a world where every one of eight billion human beings must fit themselves into one of only two genders.” -Riki Wilchins Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC! It’s quite remarkable that this collection exists. All of these unique voices—ones that are too often silenced— coming together to create a powerful, undeniable chorus of queerness. I’m thrilled that this book was made and its truths and stories and opinions can fill my head. “Having any gender at all is really a sort of accomplishment, a sustained effort.” -Riki Wilchins I love reading queer history but those who have read it will understand when I say it isn’t always easy. The language around queerness is rapidly evolving and the language around gender is still intensely limiting. From what I could tell, many of the essays in this collection were written in the 90s which is long enough for there to be some outdated language. Not only that, but reading especially the stories of older queer folks, there’s a lot of internalized homophobia there and again a lack of words to explain queer experience. I’d actually hesitate to recommend this read to queer folks who’ve never read queer history before because that outdated language can be shocking and/or difficult to read. The Stonewall Reader definitely prepared me for this collection. These essays are all over the place and I think the book might have benefitted from organizing them in some way (though, I admit that I wouldn’t know where to start). I was also surprised that the first quarter of the book is actually all Riki Wilchins’ writing, which was fabulous but I just didn’t expect one of the book’s editors to have so much content. Riki has some really interesting thoughts and ideas that definitely challenged me to think in ways that I hadn’t before. So Riki’s writing was actually some of my favorite, and other favorites were “Passing Realities” by Roberta Alyson Lie, “World’s Youngest” by Mollie Biewald, and “Do It on the Dotted Line” by Raven Kaldera. Mollie Biewald was 15 when she wrote an essay for this book and hir vulnerability in sharing this story was really powerful. “Whenever a line is drawn, it passes through someone’s flesh.” - Raven Kaldera Some of these essays are quite wonderful and some I didn’t like. I much preferred reading people who were sharing their own stories rather than the stories of their partners. I’m used to reading queer stories that are actually about partners (and not the narrator) but it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable with. “Fading to Pink” by Robin Maltz had some great things to say about femme lesbians, how femininity isn’t an expression of heterosexuality and there shouldn’t be a standard to “look like a lesbian”; but Maltz also talks about struggling with her partner’s choice to transition and that gave me some complicated feelings. Queer folks need safe spaces to express fears, doubts, and conflicts but this didn’t feel like a great place for a cis-gender woman to be angry with her partner’s transitioning. Then again, Riki Wilchins would probably argue that Maltz isn’t cis. It’s admittedly a complicated mess. But I guess that’s gender. “Words work well for things we can repeat; that we hold in common. What is totally unique or private is lost to language… Genderqueerness is, by definition, unique, private, and profoundly different. That’s what makes it queer.” -Riki Wilchins In the queer community right now, I see a lot of push to separate gender from sexuality but Riki argues to do the exact opposite. I just want to mention that for any readers who are uncomfortable conflating the two. Gender and sexuality get all jumbled and mixed up together in these stories so if you’re not used to thinking that way then this book will stretch your brain. If this book sounds interesting to you, please do read it! But as always, take care of yourself, go at your own pace, and be mindful that some of this content is going to be triggering. CW: transphobia, gender dysphoria, homophobia, anti-gay slurs

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    Sonya Bolus here. Yeah, I wrote my essay (Loving Between Simple Lines) in 1999. I’m a pretty different person nowadays (bigendered, non-binary, middle aged and hopefully a bit wiser), but it’s worth mentioning that it was a different world then, too. At the time, I knew only one other Femme with a trans partner (she’s one of the authors in this book, too - lol) and she lived on the other side of the country. There was very little language or community to help anyone going through transition - or Sonya Bolus here. Yeah, I wrote my essay (Loving Between Simple Lines) in 1999. I’m a pretty different person nowadays (bigendered, non-binary, middle aged and hopefully a bit wiser), but it’s worth mentioning that it was a different world then, too. At the time, I knew only one other Femme with a trans partner (she’s one of the authors in this book, too - lol) and she lived on the other side of the country. There was very little language or community to help anyone going through transition - or their partners. Genderqueer was a new word and it meant something subtly different than it does now. Finding info online was painfully difficult. A lot of the world wasn’t even on the “world wide web”. No YouTube or Facebook... Google and Amazon were babies... running a search was a pain in the ass. And Blog? What’s that?... You met online? Really? How weird... Asexual? That would be reproduction by division, mitochondria style.... Genderf*ck -oh you mean like David Bowie, right? Pay per minute dial up connections reigned. The butch-femme internet presence was a very small bulletin board chat group and 2 websites. The FTM presence was even smaller. (I can’t speak adequately to the experiences of trans women or those of other genders. Please forgive.) The main response I got when I told someone, even those who knew I identified as a femme dyke, that my partner was trans was, “So what does that make you?” We were definitely defined by who we desired and slept with. That was foisted upon us, not chosen. We were not ignorant that gender and sexuality are two different things. We lived in a world that saw it otherwise. Identifying as a Femme was pretty radical at the time. My experience was that most dykes saw you as a straight girl invader of “their”space. The concept of Femme as gender or as performative gender was in its infancy. I wanted to find community with people who shared my experiences and questions. But to do so, I had to start my own RL support group, create a website (I had to learn to code it as I went) and start a Yahoo group (with a friend) for Femme partners of trans/masculine folks and butches - and I lived in San Francisco! Identifying as genderqueer or trans was so brave and dangerous. It often came after decades of suffering or because the only perceived alternative was suicide. Transitioning was terrifying and isolating, often humiliating and out of reach for many, many people. I knew so many people who were bashed, lost their careers and income, lost their families of origin, partners, children. Lost ALL of their friends. Had botched surgeries and used off market hormones. And there was one friend who took his own life, post transition because he just couldn’t find acceptance as a trans POC. Meanwhile, being a gay, trans man was seen as deviant and confusing/confused. AIDS was still a big effing deal. I could go on and on,... but I think I already have. Anyway, people: please read this book as a snapshot of the burgeoning genderqueer, trans, non-binary culture(s) of the late 90’s. (It took about 2-3 years after sending in your essay before the book was published.) The authors have changed with the the times, grown with the community and with the world. Nobody is frozen in time. No community or culture is frozen in time. Language you use now will be seen as archaic, insulting and exclusionary sometime in the future. People will always read older texts with a current perspective. How can we not? But that often doesn’t account for earlier authors’ genuine efforts to understand, define, accept and celebrate new ideas, human relationships, culture, identity, language, and their personal experiences interacting with the changing and challenging world. It was an act of courage to write about gender identity from a personal perspective (rather than removed and academic) and publish it for the world to see and potentially tear apart. That’s why you see some pseudonyms among the authors of earlier eras (even in this book). I actually risked my livelihood, the custody of my child and my relationship with my family by putting my legal name on my essay. I’ve been accused of sexualizing and objectifying butches and trans men by writing this, when I was really just writing my own experience and voicing desire that was largely unspoken and definitely not understood. The relationship I wrote about was actually my first relationship “with a woman” as a “Lesbian”. I was pretty unsophisticated and raw. I’ve also been admonished for writing about trans stuff as a non-trans person. (Ironic, because I am completely genderqueer.) My name is forever linked to this early essay and book with all of the flaws and misunderstandings of the diversity of gender identity and sexual (or asexual) orientation inherent to the times. But all in all, I’m pretty proud of what I wrote and of the whole book. It is a testament to courage, authenticity and writing Truth to Power. So take what you like best and leave the rest. Just respect that this is your history... and mine. There is always room for growth and change. But only if someone before you has laid down the first brick of the foundation, and the third, and the fourteenth, seventy-sixth, thousandth. And only if we open our mouth to speak, or pick up a pen and lay down the words, and listen with intention and respect. Many thanks for allowing me the space to comment on my part in this book, 20+ years later. Many, many thanks to Joan Nestle, Riki Wilchins and Clare Howell for their hard work and for having the guts to publish this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roslyn K

    This book is essentially a collection of personal essays that explore some of the multitude of ways that people can be genderqueer, initially published almost two decades ago. Various essays look at the connection between gender and sexuality, the disconnect between gender expression and gender identity, the policing of gender expression, and just generally the question of what does it mean to be genderqueer. Despite the age of the book, a lot of what's discussed here feels very timely and relev This book is essentially a collection of personal essays that explore some of the multitude of ways that people can be genderqueer, initially published almost two decades ago. Various essays look at the connection between gender and sexuality, the disconnect between gender expression and gender identity, the policing of gender expression, and just generally the question of what does it mean to be genderqueer. Despite the age of the book, a lot of what's discussed here feels very timely and relevant to our world today. However, there are some ways where it's easy to tell that this book was initially written at the beginning of the millennium, mostly because of what isn't talked about. There isn't really any discussion of the Internet or how changing methods of communication have affected the way that gender is viewed and talked about. Nor are there mention of any identities that only reached a wider population because of the Internet, such as asexuality and aromanticism. This isn't, of course, a criticism of the book, but rather something I noticed that makes me wish for a new collection along the same lines as this one that grapples with the same questions and presents some of the new answers (and even more questions) found in the last two decades. The only real criticism of the volume I have is that I really would have liked there to be some kind of content warning attached to each essay. This collection addresses numerous difficult and traumatizing subjects such as rape, child abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders, medical mistreatment, and various forms of queerphobia. All of these issues are, unfortunately, common problems for genderqueer people, which is obviously why they appear in so many essays, but that also means they could be triggering as well and I think some kind of warning is needed. And as a sex-repulsed asexual person, a warning for the sometimes aggressively sexual content would have been appreciated as well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    AC Atienza

    It's a fine book, but as you would expect, your mileage will vary depending on what you're looking for. The best audience would probably be someone who needs validation with their own gender, while it's mostly "obvious" stuff otherwise. It's a fine book, but as you would expect, your mileage will vary depending on what you're looking for. The best audience would probably be someone who needs validation with their own gender, while it's mostly "obvious" stuff otherwise.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andie Lawless

    Genderqueer is critical reading for a generation that's often out of touch with the community that came before us. The recollections that fill the book are thought-provoking, poignant essays of people all too often erased or villified. Genderqueer is critical reading for a generation that's often out of touch with the community that came before us. The recollections that fill the book are thought-provoking, poignant essays of people all too often erased or villified.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Critic in the making

    The book is very much relevant to today's post queer discussions The book is very much relevant to today's post queer discussions

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tierney

    I really loved this book simply because I love reading anything queer, especially so many different experiences. I came away from this book with 2 things that bothered me, but also helped me look into myself and how I am viewed in my community, how femmes are viewed in my community, how the two come together and are viewed, and also what exactly is my community? So here's the first thing that bothered me- “Genderqueers are people for whom some link in the feeling/expressing/being-perceived fails I really loved this book simply because I love reading anything queer, especially so many different experiences. I came away from this book with 2 things that bothered me, but also helped me look into myself and how I am viewed in my community, how femmes are viewed in my community, how the two come together and are viewed, and also what exactly is my community? So here's the first thing that bothered me- “Genderqueers are people for whom some link in the feeling/expressing/being-perceived fails. For example, a stone butch may feel masculine and embody-in his own mind and behavior-masculinity. Yet because of his sex (the pronoun strains here), she might still be read as womanly, like a girl trying on her boyfriend’s clothes, especially if she is large-breasted and large-hipped. If genderqueer bodies are those that fail because they don’t follow the rules, the grammar of gender-as-language, then what are the boundaries of such a term and what are its exclusions? Is a lesbian femme harassed for her miniskirt and fuck-me pumps genderqueer? Is a 3-year old who tries on his sister’s dress or a 40-year old who loses a promotion because her boss believes women should be seen but not promoted? What about a football captain who’s humiliated by his coach because he wept after a tough loss? If genderqueerness is not something we do, but an identity we are, then none of these people would be candidates….” It's totally possible I'm super sensitive, but to me lumping lesbian femmes in with toddlers who try on dresses, high school football players, and women dealing with misogynistic bosses leaves me feeling like femmes are being looked at as second class citizens in the queer community. I truly understand the gender nuances of these situations, it just reminds me of conversations I've had with people telling me that wearing heels and shaving is giving into the oppression of women and heterosexual male media's version of what a woman should be, without listening to the fact that I fucking love heels, and I'll decide exactly the type of woman I am, not society-straight or queer. The second thing- In the essay, Wanting Men, Lionhart writes, “I have always denied the stereotype, but it does seem to be true that the more femme the lesbian, the more likely she’s not a lesbian” I know, the first amendment.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam Rosenthal

    Readers of my erotic novel RYE ask if there are books I'd recommend: books with similar emotional power. GENDERQUEER, VOICE FROM BEYOND THE SEXUAL BINARY immediately comes to mind. I found this book a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, it's a very worthwhile read. Today I picked it off the shelf and brought it with me on the subway, I enjoy the fresh insightful writing. In all, there are 46 short pieces here, most running four to six pages. The variety gives you a brief insight into Readers of my erotic novel RYE ask if there are books I'd recommend: books with similar emotional power. GENDERQUEER, VOICE FROM BEYOND THE SEXUAL BINARY immediately comes to mind. I found this book a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, it's a very worthwhile read. Today I picked it off the shelf and brought it with me on the subway, I enjoy the fresh insightful writing. In all, there are 46 short pieces here, most running four to six pages. The variety gives you a brief insight into a life you might never have known, a brief moment that reveals and yet - in aggregate - does nothing to definitively define who we are. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes angry, this collection has great variety. In the table of contents, I asterisked two stories, and they're just as wonderful the second time through. Sonya Bolus' "Loving Outside Simples Lines" is lyrical: touching and beautiful. She recounts her mixed emotions concerning her butch lover's top surgery. Blous' writing is like a warm soft breeze, the leaves floating languidly in the air, emotional with poignant urgency. "When I move against you, when I hold you to my breast, when I take you in my mouth, I take in your whole self. You feel my soul and I respond to you, as a femme, as a lesbian, as a transensual woman... as myself." L. Maurer's "Story of a Preadolescent Drag King" is a humorous memory of fifth-grade, when Mrs. Kay tried to grind the tomboy out of the narrator. She goes along with the gender suppression to get a promised shiny boy's 10-speed (her parent's reward for appeasing the teacher). The story is a friendly reminder that many many people do not want us to be who we are; they will work hard to devalue and diffuse our awareness of our gender and self, in order to box us in to meet their expectations. That's a beautiful and powerful message in this book: we are who we are, and as society fights against that reality we go through a lot of pain and self-discovery. And we come out the other side with a better understanding. The reality of who we are. BEYOND THE SEXUAL BINARY, indeed. It's a shame this book isn't available for Kindle. It really deserves to be read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    I find myself feeling a little conflicted about this book. On one hand it helped me look at some issues in a totally new way, which has felt both challenging and rewarding in many ways. On the other, I wasn't expecting it to be quite so political which can be both difficult for me to get through at times and overwhelming to stumble into this early on in my gender-quest. I'll try picking this back up in a couple years after the dust has settled a little bit and I find the topics a little less dis I find myself feeling a little conflicted about this book. On one hand it helped me look at some issues in a totally new way, which has felt both challenging and rewarding in many ways. On the other, I wasn't expecting it to be quite so political which can be both difficult for me to get through at times and overwhelming to stumble into this early on in my gender-quest. I'll try picking this back up in a couple years after the dust has settled a little bit and I find the topics a little less distressing to my current personal journey.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shaya

    I really loved reading the wide range of gender experiences and found a lot of them to be very powerful. My favorite moment reading Genderqueer was when I read through a story and stopped trying to figure out what gender the author identified with and what combination of genitals they had and just accepted them as a person. I was pleased at the quality of writing of almost all of the short stories. I often feel with anthologies that it's obvious that the majority of people writing are not career I really loved reading the wide range of gender experiences and found a lot of them to be very powerful. My favorite moment reading Genderqueer was when I read through a story and stopped trying to figure out what gender the author identified with and what combination of genitals they had and just accepted them as a person. I was pleased at the quality of writing of almost all of the short stories. I often feel with anthologies that it's obvious that the majority of people writing are not career professional writers. Not the case with this anthology. I was a little surprised with how much sex was included. It felt appropriate since gender and sex are closely tied. I also felt like a few stories could have used a trigger warning for discussion of sexual abuse or suicide. I could most relate to the few stories written by femme lesbians. I hadn't realized the divide that exists between the lesbian and transgender communities. It seems like Genderqueer is attempting to address and heal some of that divide. There are several different political ideas that are expressed but Genderqueer doesn't present a clear direction for the movement. That makes sense because there are so many different opinions. I highly recommend it for both people who don't identify on the gender binary and cisgender folk. I found it very helpful for understanding the experience of being genderqueer.

  24. 5 out of 5

    M

    Ergh. Some of the pieces in this book were great! Some of them really weren't! A lot of it was confronting and difficult to read … which can be good, but isn't always. Sometimes it was just difficult because it was transphobic as hell. Kind of upsetting to find that kind of thing in a book like this. (And I'm not talking about the language choices etc that date the book – current discourse may have moved on and in many cases disavowed the language used here, but that's a thing that happens and i Ergh. Some of the pieces in this book were great! Some of them really weren't! A lot of it was confronting and difficult to read … which can be good, but isn't always. Sometimes it was just difficult because it was transphobic as hell. Kind of upsetting to find that kind of thing in a book like this. (And I'm not talking about the language choices etc that date the book – current discourse may have moved on and in many cases disavowed the language used here, but that's a thing that happens and it's fine.) (The book is pretty dated, though, in more than just its language.) Seriously mixed feelings overall.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beans

    This was a way more satisfying read than Gender Outlaws. A little outdated and definitely aimed at an older audience, but ultimately these stories (and especially the coupling of personal stories with theory which was super awesome) were way closer to what I needed than those in Gender Outlaws, even if there were some that I found myself disagreeing or not identifying with. Also Riki Wilchins is amazing. The first few chapters of this book are some of the best gender theory I've ever read, and it This was a way more satisfying read than Gender Outlaws. A little outdated and definitely aimed at an older audience, but ultimately these stories (and especially the coupling of personal stories with theory which was super awesome) were way closer to what I needed than those in Gender Outlaws, even if there were some that I found myself disagreeing or not identifying with. Also Riki Wilchins is amazing. The first few chapters of this book are some of the best gender theory I've ever read, and it's written in the straightforward language that most queer/gender theory is lacking (looking at you, Judith Butler).

  26. 5 out of 5

    mis fit

    "In a society where femininity is feared and loathed, all women are genderqueer." - Wilchins "Specific kinds of knowledge about bodies enable us to exercise power over them. Such knowledge is not 'disinterested.' It is very interested, it is purposeful, it has aims." "It is not the big, familiar power of concrete buildings and visible institutions, power that is both massed and massive. Rather, it's the power of what is said and thought about us: the small, diffuse, invisible power created and ins "In a society where femininity is feared and loathed, all women are genderqueer." - Wilchins "Specific kinds of knowledge about bodies enable us to exercise power over them. Such knowledge is not 'disinterested.' It is very interested, it is purposeful, it has aims." "It is not the big, familiar power of concrete buildings and visible institutions, power that is both massed and massive. Rather, it's the power of what is said and thought about us: the small, diffuse, invisible power created and instantly destroyed in thousands of little, insignificant exchanges."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    The four introductory essays by Riki Wilchins are fantastic, and should be required reading for ... everyone, really. However, I found the first-hand accounts that made up the majority of this book seemed to focus more on the role and place of gender within (or without, as the case seems to frequently be) the GLBT community, rather than within the world at large. For readers directly involved or within the GLBT community, that is important, but that makes this collection less relevant for a wide The four introductory essays by Riki Wilchins are fantastic, and should be required reading for ... everyone, really. However, I found the first-hand accounts that made up the majority of this book seemed to focus more on the role and place of gender within (or without, as the case seems to frequently be) the GLBT community, rather than within the world at large. For readers directly involved or within the GLBT community, that is important, but that makes this collection less relevant for a wider audience.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becky spain

    l loved it. I love reading and learning about people who don't conform to the mainstream culture of what a girl or boy is " supposed" to act like. Labels like straight, gay, bi, femme, all that put a rigid definition in a person's head, but real life is more fluid than that. This book is a collection of many authors who don't restrict themselves to one fixed point on the gender binary. If you like this type of thing, or would like to read an eye opener, check it out. l loved it. I love reading and learning about people who don't conform to the mainstream culture of what a girl or boy is " supposed" to act like. Labels like straight, gay, bi, femme, all that put a rigid definition in a person's head, but real life is more fluid than that. This book is a collection of many authors who don't restrict themselves to one fixed point on the gender binary. If you like this type of thing, or would like to read an eye opener, check it out.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Red

    this book changed my life. I don't even remember what was in it, now, just that it blew my brain to bits and laid the groundwork for me to eviscerate my gender, take it all apart and see what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to dump. it made so many things possible for me. parts of it were assigned for a class, and I remember sucking the entire book down, just inhaling it, skiving off other homework because I was so engrossed in this. wish I could find my copy. this book changed my life. I don't even remember what was in it, now, just that it blew my brain to bits and laid the groundwork for me to eviscerate my gender, take it all apart and see what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to dump. it made so many things possible for me. parts of it were assigned for a class, and I remember sucking the entire book down, just inhaling it, skiving off other homework because I was so engrossed in this. wish I could find my copy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "The body is a situation." "Nothing in man--not even his body--is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition, or for understanding other men." "To be unaware of one's form is to live a death." Life is a lemming walk. "The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house." "The body is a situation." "Nothing in man--not even his body--is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition, or for understanding other men." "To be unaware of one's form is to live a death." Life is a lemming walk. "The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house."

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