Hi all! This very special Wednesday comic is a review of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, and is part of the book’s blog tour. As you might of surmised, I liked it! It’s an anthology of essays, poems, comics, performance pieces, and there’s one curry recipe.
You can order it on amazon, or look for it at your local bookstore. If you’re unsure if you want it, just pick it up and read Scott Turner Schofield’s piece, “The Wrong Body”. Seriously, go on, read it, it’s only two pages long – and at the risk of over-hyping it, I’ll admit that it had me weeping in public.
GENDER OUTLAWS: THE NEXT GENERATION
edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
RJ “overlooks” the comic from a bubble in the upper right corner.
RJ: First of all, can I tell you how refreshing it is to read a book with the phrase “transpeople and genderqueers” on the back and doesn’t feel the need to explain itself?
Below, one person in a lifeguard uniform stands on a shore, looking to the left and motioning towards the water. Three people are in the water – one is snorkeling, one is playing with a beach ball and one is shouting.
RJ (in narration box): Other books may try to coax you to the water…
PERSON ON COAST: I’ll explain it to you, it’s not so scary!
RJ (narration): While Gender Outlaws: TNG shouts at you from the deep end.
PERSON IN WATER: Aw, come on, JUMP IN already!
Kate Bornstein is in the upper left, wearing a cowboy hat and vest and wielding a pencil.
RJ (narration): It’s been over a decade since Kate Bornstein proclaimed in pages of Gender Outlaw that ze is neither man nor woman. I know hir book was incredibly important to me and other outlaws. It gave us a feeling of, Yes, there are People Like Me! We exist! We’re grand! The knowledge that we’re not alone is enormously powerful grounding.
In the lower right, three outlaws are gathered. One has slick dark hair, wears a leather jacket and uses a cane. Another is wearing a striped shirt, holding a pencil, has a tuft of light hair on top of their otherwise shaved head, and sports a pirate-like eyepatch. Another is wearing a hat and outfit reminiscent of Robin Hood, has dreadlocks and is using a laptop computer.
RJ (narration): GO:TNG is able to blow right past “we exist!” to explore the many ways we exist – genderqueers and transpeople are a merry band of outlaws now, connected like never before by the internet and spectacular trans activism.
To the left, RJ stands with their hands palm up as if they are weighing invisible objects. Around them, there float several phrases with arrows point to them: American, doesn’t pass, female assigned at birth, anxiety, child of divorce, white, college educated, partnered, able-bodied.
RJ: But we’re all also very much doing our own thing, as it were.… juggling different oppressions and privileges, existing in different social worlds, inhabiting inseparable intersecting identities… Gender Outlaws isn’t trying to simplify or explain a single “trans experience”.
In the bottom right, a human figure in shadow holds up a slightly misshaped heart with a bandaid over it. From the heart emanates purple and orange music notes, lightning bolts, waves, spirals and spikes.
RJ: It’s a heartfelt attempt to portray just how complex, messy, beautiful and ugly this stuff all really is!
Upper left, RJ appears bald and in Captain Picard’s uniform. Upper left, Sarah of The Princess and Sam Orchard of Rooster Tails smile and wave.
RJ: Since this is a comic by a nrrd and for nrrds, I know what you’re wondering. Yes, it’s subtle, but they make the Star Trek reference, in the introduction.
And if you love comics (why else would you be reading this?) you’ll be pleased to find a few in GO: TNG, including some friendly faces from the webcomics world!
RJ (narration): Language geeks like myself may find themselves challenged by the word choices of a few contributors, and perhaps even the editors (Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman) themselves…
Lower left, RJ reads the book, they appear angry.
RJ: GENETIC GIRL? I may have two X chromosomes, but GIRL I AIN’T.
Lower right, RJ reads the book, they appear disappointed.
RJ: I get why some use tranny… I mean, I LOVE the word “queer”… but I still wish there was a piece from someone on why they don’t…
RJ (narration): While other pieces will totally charm and delight you.
Below left, RJ throws up their hands victoriously, the open book is in one hand.
RJ: YES! You school ‘em, Serano!
Below right, RJ holds the book with one hand and pulls at their shirt strap with the other. A heart floats near their head.
RJ: Oooh, Latin roots… is it getting hot in here, Johnny Blazes and Katie Diamond?
RJ (narration): A few pieces in the bunch hit me sort of like this:
Below right, the book floats as a wave of that goes FOOM hits RJ in the face with force. A tear rolls down their cheek.
RJ: (narration) And I found myself wanting to pass the book on, a lot.
RJ holds out the book to a person with glasses who wears a shirt that says “Patient Friend”.
RJ: YOU MUST READ SCOTT TURNER SCHOFIELD’S PIECE. Oh, and Ryka Aoki’s! And, and Andrea Jenkins’ thing on self-love… and Zev Al-Walid’s… and… and…
RJ overlooks the comic again in a bubble in the upper left.
RJ: That’s just the point of recording a “new generation”, isn’t it? Passing something on? As Bornstein and Bergman point out in their (adorable IM conversation) introduction, many of the writers in GO: TNG are starting out further than where Bornstein was when ze finished the original Gender Outlaw. It makes me wonder, ten or twenty years from now, where the kids who pick up a dusty old copy of GO:TNG will be at…
Below right, RJ looks thoughtful.
RJ: Gee, I consider myself part of this generation, and I guess all our creative and radical ideas about gender will be old news.
Below left, RJ looks excited.
RJ: How exhilarating!