Free Best Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of UsAuthor Kate Bornstein – Mariahilff.de

Part coming of age story, part mind altering manifesto on gender and sexuality, coming directly to you from the life experiences of a transgender woman, Gender Outlaw breaks all the rules and leaves the reader forever changed black and white illustrations


10 thoughts on “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

  1. Shawn Shawn says:

    my mind was BLOWNLots and lots of food for thought aka just read it But the need for a recognizable identity, and the need to belong to a group of people with a similar identity these are driving forces in our culture, and nowhere is thisevident than in the areas of gender and sexuality 3 4 I know I m not a man about that much I m clear, and I ve come to the conclusion that I m probably not a woman either, at least not according to a lot of people s rules on this sort of thing The my mind was BLOWNLots and lots of food for thought aka just read it But the need for a recognizable identity, and the need to belong to a group of people with a similar identity these are driving forces in our culture, and nowhere is thisevident than in the areas of gender and sexuality 3 4 I know I m not a man about that much I m clear, and I ve come to the conclusion that I m probably not a woman either, at least not according to a lot of people s rules on this sort of thing The trouble is, we re living in a world that insists we be one or the other a world that doesn t bother to tell us exactly what one or the other is 8 Two days after my lover and I appeared on The Donahue Show, the five year old child of our next door neighbor came up to me and asked me, So, are you a boy or a girl We d been living next door to these folks for over two years I m a girl who used to be a boy , I replied She was delighted with that answer and told me I d looked very pretty on television I thanked her and we smiled at each other and went about our days I love it that kids will just ask 9 They guys want to know, what do lesbians do with one another It s a sad question really it shows how little thought they give to exactly what pleases a woman 10 I ve no idea what a woman feels like I never did feel like a girl or a woman rather, it was my unshakable conviction that I was not a boy or a man It was the absence of feeling, rather than its presence, that convinced me to change my gender 24 Variants togender based relationship dynamics would include heterosexual female with gay male, gay male with lesbian woman, lesbian woman with heterosexual woman, gay male with bisexual male, and so forth People involved in these variants know that each dynamic is different from the other A lesbian involved with another lesbian, for example, is a very different relationship than that of a lesbian involved with a bisexual woman, and that s distinct from being a lesbian woman involved with a heterosexual woman What these variants have in common is that each of these combinations forms its own clearly recognizable dynamic, and none of these are acknowledged by the dominant cultural binary of sexual orientation heterosexuality homosexuality 33 in other words, the sexual encounter is queer because both partners are queer and the genders of the participants are less relevent Just because Batman is male and Catwoman is female does not make their interactions heterosexual think about it, there is nothing straight about two people getting it on in rubber and latex costumes, wearing eyemasks and carrying whips and other accoutrements 36 In any case, if we buy into catergories of sexual orientation based solely on gender heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, we re cheating ourselves of a searching examination of our real sexual preferences In the same fashion, by subscribing to the categories of gender based solely on the male female binary, we cheat ourselves of a searching examination of our real gender identity 38 As an exercise, can you recall the last time you saw someone whose gender was ambiguous Was this person attractive to you And if you knew they called themselves neither a man nor a woman, what would it make you if you re attracted to that person And if you were to kiss Make love What would you be 40 I try to engage these folks by asking, What s a woman What s a man I wish someone would answer me that it would make my life a lot easier I could get on playing some other kind of game But no one has been able to answer that 43 I never hated my penis I hated that it made me a man in my own eyes, and in the eyes of others 47 I remember one time walking into Woolworth s in Philadelphia I d been living as a woman for about a month I came through the revolving doors, and stood face to face with a security guard a young man, maybe nineteen or twenty years old He did a double take when he saw me and began to laugh very loud He just laughed and laughed I continued round through the revolving doors and left the store I agreed with him that I was a joke that I was the sick one I went back in there almost a year later He came on to me 48 It doesn t really matter what a person decides to do, or how radically a person plays with gender What matters, I think, is how aware a person is of the options How sad for a person to be missing out on some expression of identity, just for not knowing there are options 51 Are you a woman because your birth certificate says female A man because your birth certificate says male If so, how did that happen A doctor looked down at your crotch at birth A doctor decided, based on what was showing of your external genitals, that you would be one gender or another You never had a say in that most irreversible of all pronouncements and according to this culture as it stands today, you never will have a say 57 We are trapped in the wrong body. I understand that many people may explain ther preoperative transgendered lives in that way, but I ll bet that it slikely an unfortunate metaphor that conveniently conforms to cultural expectations, rather than an honest reflection of our transgendered feelingsIt s time for transgendered people to look for new metaphors new ways of communicating our lives to people who are traditionally gendered 66 I really would like to be a member of a community, but until there s one that s based on the principle of constant change, the membership would involverules, and the rules that exist around the subject of gender are not rules I want to obey 69Ladies are the kind of people who won t let my girlfriend use that public ladies room, thinking she s not a woman Oh, but they re not going to let her use the men s room either they re not going to let her be a man either If she s not a man, and she s not a woman, then what is she Once I asked my mother what fire was a solid, liquid or gas And she said it wasn t any of those things It was something that happened to things a force of nature, she called it Maybe that s what she is a force of nature For sure she is something that happened to me. Holly Hughes, Clit Notes, 1999 102 The preferred gender in our patriarchal society is male, and so males mostly take gender for granted, most men do not try and analyze what it means to be male Even the men s movement seemspredicated on a desire to not be drawn into some web of femininity, rather than a desire to question the construct of male identity Women, on the other hand, have been taught that they re the second sex, the distaff gender, so their lives are an almost daily struggle with the concept of gender The trap for women is the system itself it s not men who are the foe as much as it is the bi polar gender system that keeps men in place asprivileged 106 Please don t call it biological sex, or social gender Don t call it sex at all sex is fucking, gender is everything else 116 Let me tell you what happened, the way it looked from inside my head The world slowed downThe words echoed in my ears over and over and over Attached to that simple pronoun was the word failure, quickly followed by the word freak All the joy sucked out of my life in an instant, and every moment I d ever fucked up crashed down on my head Here was someone who d never known me as a man, referring to me as a man 126 Straights and gays alike demand the need for an orderly gender system they re two sides of the same coin, each holding the other in place, neither willing to dismantle the gender system that serves as a matrix for their sexual identity Because of the bi polar nature of both sexual orientation and gender, one system strengthens the other Bisexuality and androgyny also hold two sides in place by defining themselves as somewhere in the middle of two given polar opposites 133 So let s reclaim the word transgendered so as to beinclusive Let s let it mean transgressively gendered, Then, we have a group of people who break the rules, codes, and shackles of genderIt s the transgendered who need to embrace the lesbians and gays, because it s the transgendered who are in fact theinclusive category 135 I ve come to see gender as a divisive social construct, and the gendered body as a somewhat dubious accomplishment I write about this because I am a gender outlaw and my issues are gender issues The way I see it now, the lesbian and gay community is as much oppressed for gender transgressions as for sexual distinction We havein common, you and I, than most people are willing to admit See, I m told I must be a man or a woman One or the other Oh, it s OK to be a transsexual say some just don t talk about it Don t question your gender any , just be a woman now you went to so much trouble just be satisfied I am so, not satisfied 144 145 I grew this body.It s a girl body.All of it.Over the past seven years every one of these cells became girl,so it s mine now.It doesn t make me female.It doesn t make me a woman.And I m sure not a man.What does that make me 234 My grandmother, he said, told me something I ve never forgotten Never fuck anyone you wouldn t want to be The room went silent for a long time 245 And I m looking forward to the day when people look at this book and say to themselves, How curious to have put all that energy into talking about gender I wonder what the world must have been like in those days for folks with only two choices 246


  2. l. l. says:

    this is a really engaging, witty read kate bornstein must be a blast to hang out with however, bornstein misinterprets basic radical feminist arguments continually conflates sex gender, thus betraying a lot of assumptions that i find troubling.what i see time and time again is the assumption that for cis people, gender isn t an issue, and of course it is particularly for cis women and the failure to acknowledge that in so many of these texts is an issue for me that i find hard to overlook this is a really engaging, witty read kate bornstein must be a blast to hang out with however, bornstein misinterprets basic radical feminist arguments continually conflates sex gender, thus betraying a lot of assumptions that i find troubling.what i see time and time again is the assumption that for cis people, gender isn t an issue, and of course it is particularly for cis women and the failure to acknowledge that in so many of these texts is an issue for me that i find hard to overlook bornstein eventually acknowledges that gender roles are enforced to benefit men and oppress women but fails to examine understand the implications of this for example, bornstein has a list of the different type of gender outlaws and never mentions the possibility of gender nonconforming cis people we re just in the privileged group of cisgender, binary identified men and women pg 85 i do like that she views the whole lesbian separatist vs trans women debacle with some level of nuance pg 104 and how she acknowledges and discusses male privilege in some places pg 140 , in others the text implies bringing it up is transphobic pg 61 but other things saying that gay bashing isabout gender performance than sexual orientation pg 135 these things aren t divisible being gay is to be in a sense, gender non conforming see wittig tbh, some of the thing she says are kind of homphobic i.e calling LGBT people straight if they don t identify as queer pg 172.i just find her thoughts a bit scattered, and not very rigorous


  3. Erin Erin says:

    While Bornstein raises interesting points the idea of a third sexuality, neither male nor female , her arguments against recognizing gender suffered from her nearly complete ability to ignore that one key signifier.the ability to bear children, and her failure to discuss this issue within her theories made the whole premise rather circumspect.In addition, this is an entire book that might have really been two magazine articles the first would cover Bornstein s thoughts on gender, summarized While Bornstein raises interesting points the idea of a third sexuality, neither male nor female , her arguments against recognizing gender suffered from her nearly complete ability to ignore that one key signifier.the ability to bear children, and her failure to discuss this issue within her theories made the whole premise rather circumspect.In addition, this is an entire book that might have really been two magazine articles the first would cover Bornstein s thoughts on gender, summarized above, and the second, a discussion of gender as it relates to Bornstein s true love, the theatre She also includes one of her plays, which takes up nearly a quarter of the book I probably wouldn t recommend this to someone looking for a clear study of transsexuality it s dated and seems like a fair amount of repetitive ramblings, with little substance


  4. Zefyr Zefyr says:

    There s a lot of problems with the book see the appropriation of the term shaman in a quote below, although this edition includes some commentary about the politics around that but the good stuff is so so good.There s a strength in knowing we have our own comics, our own jokers But here it gets tricky The pressure and temptation is to create art or politics for a particular group, which is in turn based on some inflexible identity special interest groups, identity politics, whatever you w There s a lot of problems with the book see the appropriation of the term shaman in a quote below, although this edition includes some commentary about the politics around that but the good stuff is so so good.There s a strength in knowing we have our own comics, our own jokers But here it gets tricky The pressure and temptation is to create art or politics for a particular group, which is in turn based on some inflexible identity special interest groups, identity politics, whatever you want to call it The group becomes loyal audience, supporters, and followers, if for no other reason than the fool is speaking their language, performing their lives.But this is so important the fool becomes a fool by flexing the rules, the boundaries of the group, and this is antithetical to the survival dynamic of most groups A group remains a group by being inflexible once it stretches its borders, it s no longer the same group A fool, in order to survive, must not identify long with any rigidly structured group Whenandof the fool s work is done for a particular identity based group, then the fool becomes identified with the group The fool is indeed foolish who serves a special interest, and will quickly cease being a foolLike the fool, the shaman can t take sides or be part of any identity politics The shaman needs to seek broader and broader groups of people to serve by staying in a fixed time and place, the shaman s message will only be repeated over and over to those who ve already heard it, and then the madness sets in Most of us assume that there is gender that there are only two categories of gender and that we are have the identity of one or the other We have a lot invested in this belief it s very difficult to imagine ourselves genderless It s difficult to the degree that our identities are wrapped up in our gender assignments We need to differentiate between having an identity and being an identity I write when nothing else will bring me peace, when I burn, when I find myself asking and answering the same questions over and over I write when I ve begun to lose my sense of humor and it becomes a matter of my life and my death to get that sense of humor back and watch you laugh I write in bottom space I open up to you, I cut myself, I show you my fantasies, I get a kick out of that oh, yeah I perform in top space I cover myself with my character and take you where you never dreamed you could gomy instrument is my audience and oh how I love to play you


  5. Kate Haskell Kate Haskell says:

    Gender Outlaw was somewhat frustrating for me on a critical level The whole book seemed to be written from a Marxist methodology wherein binary pairs are actually waging some kind of dialectic war Since reading Levinas, I ve never really seen binarisms in that way Polar opposites are self defining pairs, yes, but one need not be superior Also, the extremes of the poles aren t the only valid options Every binary pair is, in essence, a continuum North has no meaning without South, but it als Gender Outlaw was somewhat frustrating for me on a critical level The whole book seemed to be written from a Marxist methodology wherein binary pairs are actually waging some kind of dialectic war Since reading Levinas, I ve never really seen binarisms in that way Polar opposites are self defining pairs, yes, but one need not be superior Also, the extremes of the poles aren t the only valid options Every binary pair is, in essence, a continuum North has no meaning without South, but it also has no meaning without context South of what North of where Likewise gender is a spectrum More masculine than what exactly Feminine with respect to which point on the chart Bornstein and I arrive in similar places by completely different means, and it drives me batty As a result, we seem preoccupied with completely different questions Her questions seem to have aactivist tone which leads neatly into her call for queer theatre as a form of activism My questions lead me to ponder the structure itself and what the flaws in the structure have to tell us about our perception of gender and,generally, the queer


  6. Andrew Andrew says:

    It s weird how fast the culture changes, sometimes When I was a kid in small town Iowa in the 90s, the tranny joke was simply part of the repertoire of playground banter among boys To a certain extent, so was casual homophobia plenty of things were called gay but I can say with certainty that that always made me a bit uncomfortable My parents had gay friends, and they seemed alright But trans folks not that we d ever heard the word trans yet were a species apart, to be made fu It s weird how fast the culture changes, sometimes When I was a kid in small town Iowa in the 90s, the tranny joke was simply part of the repertoire of playground banter among boys To a certain extent, so was casual homophobia plenty of things were called gay but I can say with certainty that that always made me a bit uncomfortable My parents had gay friends, and they seemed alright But trans folks not that we d ever heard the word trans yet were a species apart, to be made fun of, completely without consequence.I can look back on that with serious shame, and now I can call actual, real life, flesh and blood trans men and women my friends an adulthood split between Seattle and Bangkok will enable that.But many people don t have that Someone like Kate Bornstein could help bridge the gap Why Because Kate Bornstein writes like a friendly, witty trans grandma, a refreshing change from the po faced struggle sessions hey there, Tumblr and mush mouthed theory hey there, Judith Butler that mark so much of the gender justice and trans rights public discourse in America She cares about being funny, entertaining, playful, and even seductive if you ve watched Contrapoints on Youtube, you get the idea just as much as she cares about the salient points of trans experience whereby my main objective as Mr Cishet over here is to not be a dick something I think we can all manage


  7. Ross Ross says:

    Don t let my review fully influence you I m sure this book is very enlightening and empowering for some genderqueer out there, but I just couldn t get through it I just too fundamentally disagree with her on the value of science and biology, disagree on the most basic terminology and have no sympathy for how often she conflates the multiple meanings of words in different contexts as if they all shared the same context.For those with stouter tolerances, have at it, but don t be surprised if you Don t let my review fully influence you I m sure this book is very enlightening and empowering for some genderqueer out there, but I just couldn t get through it I just too fundamentally disagree with her on the value of science and biology, disagree on the most basic terminology and have no sympathy for how often she conflates the multiple meanings of words in different contexts as if they all shared the same context.For those with stouter tolerances, have at it, but don t be surprised if you find yourself alternatively horrified and throwing it against the wall in anger


  8. Bryan Bryan says:

    Thank You Kate Bernstein If only this book fell into my hands in my teenagegeezpre teen years, maybe I wouldn t have spent so many nights crying into pillow wondering what s wrong with me


  9. Joanna Joanna says:

    MIND BLOWN Completely fucking brilliant I want to buy this book for everyone in my life As someone who feels pretty informed around issues of gender IT IS PERFORMATIVE , I need to write about, think about and unpick this all loadsWhich is brilliant, particularly as this book is over 20 years old It still has so much resonance Some questions What s your gender When did you decide it How much say do you have in your gender Is there anything about your gender or gender role that you MIND BLOWN Completely fucking brilliant I want to buy this book for everyone in my life As someone who feels pretty informed around issues of gender IT IS PERFORMATIVE , I need to write about, think about and unpick this all loadsWhich is brilliant, particularly as this book is over 20 years old It still has so much resonance Some questions What s your gender When did you decide it How much say do you have in your gender Is there anything about your gender or gender role that you don t like, or that gets in your way Are there one or two qualities about another gender that are appealing to you, enough so that you d like to incorporate those qualities into your daily life What would happen to your life if you did that What would your gender be then How do you think people would respond to you How would you feel if they did thatThere is most certainly a privilege to having a gender When you have a gender, or when you are perceived as having a gender, you don t get laughed at in the street You don t get beat up You know which public bathroom to use, when you use it, people don t stare at you or worse You know which form to fill out You know what clothes to wear You have a past The first question we usually ask new parents is is it a boy or a girl There s a great answer to that one going round We don t know it hasn t told us yet Personally, I think no question containing either or deserves a serious answer, that includes the question of gender One answer to the question, Who is a transsexual might be Anyone who admits it Apolitical answer might be, Anyone whose performance of gender calls into question the construct of gender itself HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


  10. Raven Raven says:

    I ve had this book since I was fourteen and somehow never got around to reading it until now Anyways it was FANTASTIC Very interesting, although sometimes quite a bit outdated I didn t agree with all of Bornstein s ideas, and some of them likely wouldn t fly in modern times, but the writing was all so thoroughly original and thoughtful I would absolutely recommend it to anyone willing to spend time thinking about the complexity of gender though they should probably have a decent understa I ve had this book since I was fourteen and somehow never got around to reading it until now Anyways it was FANTASTIC Very interesting, although sometimes quite a bit outdated I didn t agree with all of Bornstein s ideas, and some of them likely wouldn t fly in modern times, but the writing was all so thoroughly original and thoughtful I would absolutely recommend it to anyone willing to spend time thinking about the complexity of gender though they should probably have a decent understanding of modern gender theory before starting this book.I really enjoyed Kate Bornstein s ideas about the gender binary and gender roles, and how she felt distanced from them even after her transition And just reading all of the experiences that she went through as a transgendered woman so much of it is unchanged since she was writing this in the 80s and 90s I found myself very interested in her thoughts on all kinds of subjects.And, lastly, my favourite passage Experts agree that we don t even think about gender in terms of ourselves No, it s not until we see someone walking down the street and we can t tell if it s a man or a woman Ever wonder why you can t stop staring until you decide one way or another It really bothers you, doesn t it We don t have to know someone s age Their race may be somewhat indistinct, and we might be mildly curious We may look at someone and think they are gay or straight, but we don t have to know We can wonder Yet we insist, and this is the curiosity, we insist that a person must be one gender or the other and we remain unsettled until we assign one gender or another