Author Nick Krieger. Photo Credit: Melinda Begatelos
Youâ€™ve always hated your nose.
It sticks out too much. Or, itâ€™s too small. Orâ€¦ wait, your ears make you look like youâ€™re part elephant. Or, your lips are too pouty, your thighs are too big, your arms are too fat, you hate your butt.
And, you can change all of the above and then some.
But, would you have the courage to alter the very things that define you to the rest of society? In the new book â€śNina Here nor Thereâ€ť by Nick Krieger, youâ€™ll see why one young man did.
When writer-blogger Nina Krieger landed in San Franciscoâ€™s Castro district, she felt welcomed.
Her lesbian friends, the â€śA-gays,â€ť folded her into their circle with parties. Old pals were glad to see Krieger, and she was glad to find an apartment with roommates she could tolerate. She even found a job that allowed her to continue writing.
But, Kreiger wasnâ€™t happy. For years, sheâ€™d struggled with gender identity: she was not a lesbian, not exactly a woman but, yet â€” she was. Being in The Castro gave her hope, though, and unwittingly, she had surrounded herself with people who could give her guidance.
Greg, with his newly-flat chest and eagerness for life, was willing to share his experiences with surgery and testosterone shots. Jess, one of Kreigerâ€™s roommates, was transitioning and taught Kreiger about â€śpackingâ€ť and binding. Zippy, a longtime close friend, gave optimistic support.
â€śBefore moving to the Castro, Iâ€™d thought becoming a man was as realistic as growing wings,â€ť said Kreiger.
But, living â€świth her communityâ€ť gave Kreiger the courage to try. Deciding that breasts were the worst part of who she was, Kreiger bought minimizers and purchased the other body parts that she lacked. Little by little, she allowed her family careful peeks into the person she knew herself to be. She â€śconvincedâ€ť herself that she belonged, yet she was uneasy. What exists between girl and boy?
â€śâ€¦ I didnâ€™t fully relate to either anymore,â€ť Kreiger said.
Despite a fear of needles, unfazed by a list of realities and heartbroken by a paternal lack of understanding, Kreiger knew she had to find outâ€¦
â€śNina Here nor Thereâ€ť is a bit of a conundrum.
On one side, author Nick Kreiger takes his readers by the hand, allowing us to see what he sees. As Kreiger explores the gender spectrum, we do, too. At the same time heâ€™s seeing the blurred lines of woman and not-woman, we see it as well. The journey is a good one, shared.
By the time I got to the latter third of the book, though, I was well good and ready for Nina to make up her mind. By then â€” just before the culmination of the story â€” â€śNina Here nor Thereâ€ť becomes a struggle, both in content and story. And, itâ€™s with great relief that youâ€™ll find what happens.
Overall, this is a book worth a look, especially if youâ€™re examining the fluidity of gender yourself. For you, â€śNina Here nor Thereâ€ť is a nice change of pace. : :
â€śNina Here nor There: My Journey Beyond Genderâ€ť by Nick Krieger
c. 2011, Beacon Press
$15.00 / $17.00 Canada . 202 pages