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6. Kate Bornstein, My New Gender Workbook
cartoon wolf
sashajwolf wrote in queerlit50
I picked this up because, after years of identifying as femme, I was conscious that my sense of gender had shifted quite a bit, and I wanted to work through what that meant to me. I never read the old edition of this book, but from what I gather, the main difference is that the new one has a lot of discussion of intersectionality. I get the impression that the concept was still quite new to Bornstein when she wrote the revisions, and it shows a bit; it approaches intersectionality very much as something that may shed additional light on gender and never really looks at how some gender discourse might inadvertently contribute to other forms of oppression. That said, the theory section does explain the basics of gender theory pretty well and would be worth giving to a newcomer to the issue for that alone. Personally, given my objective in reading this, I probably got most out of the second part of the book, which consists of exercises to help you understand your own gender better; the third part, which offers suggestions for how to "do" your gender, assumes that the reader is trans and therefore didn't have much for me as a cis person. Normally I wouldn't mind this, because more stuff that isn't about the privileged people is generally a good thing; but there was more than a whiff of "everyone's trans really" about the way the assumption was presented, and that grated.

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For context: I am trans. I haven't read the new edition, but I have read the original. I felt that what she was saying with the bit you read as "everyone's trans" was more like, everyone deviates from the theoretical (and impossible to attain) 'perfect gender' in some way, which puts us all on a spectrum of how much we do or don't measure up to that. I think she's trying to discourage viewing cis and trans as a binary, and encouraging us to see the difference between them as more a matter of degree than of kind. In her way of looking at it, "cis" just means you're close enough to the gender role that you've been assigned that you're okay living with it even though it doesn't completely match you (or anyone), and "trans" means you're far enough away that you can't even pretend that it fits.

Yeah, that's how the theory section of the new edition read to me, and I'm fine with that, but the introduction to the exercises in the last quarter or so of the book seemed to me to go a lot further.

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