I'm giving this five out of five stars because I can't imagine how it could be different. It is pretty perfect in what it is and does.
Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon alternate short chapters through the book,
telling a range of stories about how they were born assigned female and
then left that identity behind, or tried to.
The tried to part
is, of course, dealing with other people, dealing with social
expectations, getting caught in the gender binary, where you only have
two options, M or F.
Both Coyote and Spoon tell about how they
moved through many different options. They each call themselves gender
failures. Spoon writes powerfully about how they (meaning Spoon, who has
adopted this pronoun) has retired from gender. Each repeatedly tells
stories about how they were misidentified, misrepresented, left to
explain themselves over and over, often giving up and going with the
socially expected flow, simply to board an airplane, or complete any
number of ordinary activities. Make a living.
For the reader,
this constant misrepresentation is exhausting and deeply saddening. One
can hardly imagine having to perpetually live it.
began as a multimedia show that Coyote and Spoon toured. It includes
song lyrics and photographs from that show. As a book it works fine. The
stories of the two run parallel and sometimes cross. Their voices are
distinct, and they also amplify each other. Coyote tells the story of
having breast removal surgery, after two decades of binding them. Spoon
writes of the evolution of her musical career.
and changes is the key here. How each captures the unfolding of their
lives underscores the unknowingness of selves. We are never one thing,
singular, locked down forever. The book is the stories of two trans, but
it also reveals universals, if we care to listen. How to be a self, how
to connect that self to others, how to overcome and protect oneself
from other people's bullshit. The building blocks of life. Great book.