Nina Here nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender

Nick Krieger, Beacon, $15 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0093-9
Travel writer Krieger takes us into his gender transition in this candid if uneven memoir. As a woman, the Nina of the book's title, Krieger enjoys San Francisco lesbian life and a circle of glamorous gay friends. But her growing acquaintance with an unconventional circle, many of whom are experimenting with gender identification, prompts Nina to interrogate her own feelings about gender. Increasingly ambivalent about her large breasts, the author decides to begin masculinizing her appearance—she stops shaving her legs, opts for "top surgery" to re-form her chest into a more masculine shape, and becomes Nick. Though the early part of Krieger's journey feels like a standard primer on gender identity, didacticism and clunky prose give way to a beautifully rendered and personal account that feels like a fresh addition to trans literature: making a break with the typical transgender narrative, Nick did not feel like she was the trapped inside the "wrong" body; her discomfort with her female identity came much later and was often at odds with her staunch feminism. The narrative especially gathers confidence and momentum in Kreiger's recounting of his parents' efforts (and at times, inability) to understand his transition. And the final discussions of occupying a place somewhere not quite on either extreme of the gender binary are fascinating: "When I envision my own gender, it is with my eye to the lens of a kaleidoscope that I spin and spin and spin." (May)
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 00/00/0000
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