August 11, 2011 | by Terri Schlichenmeyer
Not so cut and dried

‘Nina Here nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender’
Nick Krieger
Beacon Press
202 pages
$15

Author Nick Krieger. (Photo by Melinda Bagatelos; courtesy of Beacon Press)

You’ve always hated your nose.

It sticks out too much. Or it’s too small. Or your ears make you look like you’re part elephant. Or your lips are too pouty, your thighs too big, your arms too fat, you hate your butt.

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 “Nina Here nor There” by Nick Krieger, you’ll see why one young man did.

When writer-blogger Nina Krieger landed in San Francisco’s Castro district, she felt welcomed.

Her lesbian friends, the “A-gays,” 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 wasn’t happy. For years, she’d struggled with gender identity: she was not a lesbian, not exactly a woman but yet – 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 Kreiger’s roommates, was transitioning and taught Kreiger about “packing” and binding. Zippy, a long-time friend, gave optimistic support.

“Before moving to the Castro, I’d thought becoming a man was as realistic as growing wings,” Kreiger writes.

But living “with her community” 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 she lacked. Little by little, she allowed her family careful peeks into the person she knew herself to be. She “convinced” herself that she belonged, yet she was uneasy. What exists between girl and boy?

“I didn’t fully relate to either anymore,” Kreiger writes.

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 out.

“Nina Here nor There” 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 he’s seeing the blurred lines of woman and not-woman, we see it as well. The journey is a good one, shared.

Toward the end of the book, one begins to relate to the frustration the author is feeling as we, too, yearn for resolution. Continuing becomes a bit of a struggle as we begin to relate to the push-pull Kreiger feels. Arriving at the denouement comes as a relief. The book is a captivating fresh take on the fluidity of gender to which many LGBTs will relate.

 

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