Whee

Confession time: About once a month I surf over to Amazon.com to see how my books are doing. Embarrassing but true. Tonight I found this link for the forthcoming Classics Edition of Exile and Pride. I barely recognize myself in their description. The timing is uncanny because earlier this evening I gave my editor at South End the first draft of the second of two new essays for this edition. Here’s a little teaser:

Eleven years ago in 1998 when I handed the finished manuscript of Exile and Pride to my editors at South End Press, I knew the gendered story I had just finished telling already trailed behind both my personal experience and the politics of the trans liberation movement. It was a true story, not one I wanted to abandon or disown, but no longer current, even then. Today do I try again, telling another, distinctly different, story about gender and race, class and violence, disability and sexuality, all crashing together in our tender, resilient bodies? Do I try to find another single, coherent narrative for myself that claims boyhood as far back as I can remember even as the doctors assigned me the categories girl and mentally retarded? Do I claim my current gender location as the most real? What happens when storytellers grow beyond stories to which they’re still connected?

I could tell you about being a white queer guy now, white privilege and men’s privilege wrapping around each other, learning what it means to be a man calling other men on their sexism…. I could explain, expose, trace the lineage of my gender as it has changed. Demonstrate how language, politics, and perception have shifted around it. Wrestle some more with nature and nurture, essentialism and social construction, rigidity and fluidity, binary and continuum, and how these ideas roil through cultures, histories, and communities. I could tell this story as if this moment, this body, this gender were an anchor.

But how do I write about change itself, a story of verbs—transform, crack, melt, resist, transmit, contradict, choose, translate, repeat, shift, yield, yearn? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying everyone’s gender is fluid, but even if your gender has stayed as steady as a boulder left behind when the glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, your body has changed over time. I want a story that narrates the span between 15-year-old girl and 80-year-old woman, between 10-year-old sissy boy and 45-year-old cross dresser, between transgender butch and genderqueer trans man.

erin ambrose said,

November 13, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

i know what you mean about old bio’s. some of mine are a bit embarrassing…or something.i’ve changed so much. and my body, my skin is going a bit smooshy and i’m fucking exhausted and in pain all the time but i’ve always had the body of a dancer and a boy, save for one glaring exception which are my breasts. i firmly believe that in some attempt to mock me for my apparent inability to secure the funds and/or the courage to remove them, they’ve decided to slowly hang longer and longer down the front of my wiry body and now swing like pendulums…defiant obnoxious pendulums.
goddammit.
cheers darlin’

Ariel said,

January 25, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

I am so excited for the new edition of Exile and Pride and the new essays! Will you be making an audio book of it? Do you have audio recordings of your talks? Your recording of The Marrow’s Telling is fantastic, I recommend loads of people to your site download it. I hope you’re doing well! Take care.

Eli said,

January 25, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

Ariel,

I hope to negotiate with the publisher a way for me to make and distribute audio files of the new E&P. I don’t have any recordings of my talks. Hope you’re staying warm.

Ariel said,

January 27, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

🙂 Fantastic! I really hope it works out with the publisher. As long as I squeeze myself between ruminants or can keep moving I’m doing ok. Hope you are keeping warm too, happy snowshoeing!

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