About Brevity 49: Experiences of Gender

About Brevity 49: Experiences of Gender

Brevity’s 49th issue includes work by Kate Bornstein, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Ira Sukrungruang, Brian Doyle, Eunice Tiptree, Judy Bolton-Fasman, Sandra Gail Lambert, Cade Leebron, Deesha Philyaw, Jessica Hindman, Jody Keisner, Madison Hoffman, Mark Stricker, Samuel Autman, and Torrey Peters. These brief essays shine a light on the intersections of gender and race, sexuality, disability, faith,...
Bornstein’s Theory of Relativity

Bornstein’s Theory of Relativity

It was His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, who put gender into a universal perspective for me. I attended a public teaching with him, last fall in New York. And now I’ve got me a whole new way to look at gender. The three-day teaching I attended bore the mesmerizing title, “Profound Wisdom and Vast...
Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?  Everybody.

Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?  Everybody.

The snow was falling as I climbed the long stairs. There, beneath the spectacular dome of America’s largest mausoleum, I found— nobody. No one except a single ranger from the U.S. Park Service, that is, whom I found quietly reading a novel.  He looked up at me with an expression similar to that of the Knight in Indiana...
After the Hysterectomy

After the Hysterectomy

When you meet someone at twenty-one, someone eight years older and wiser, you learn the world through her eyes. You are a blank slate, a boy who hasn’t lost enough. You adopt what she wants and her views on life. Her interests—nature, birds, the infinite flat of Illinois—become your interests. And suddenly, you, the urban...
One Thing or the Other

One Thing or the Other

They look at us as one thing or the other.  We are eight transsexuals seated at a long table in the middle of a busy Outback Steakhouse carving up our steaks, a dinner group that gathers every Friday, the cast and location varying week to week. Get a group of transsexuals together and we stand...
Recesses

Recesses

Some girls wrap a jump rope around my neck and drag me across the asphalt of the St. Bruno’s School parking lot. Jackie has been pinning me to the ground with the stones of her knees so she could kiss me… and now this. “They were trying to kiss me!” I tell the nun, as...
Mother’s Tongue

Mother’s Tongue

As the teenager stepped through the first set of automatic doors at Target, I was entering from the parking lot. For a few seconds we stood in the foyer area between the sets of double doors. “Aren’t you? Aren’t you?” he asked, his lips quivering with joyful anticipation. In the mid 1990s, the sight of...
Seven Women Hold a Man’s Brain in Their Hands

Seven Women Hold a Man’s Brain in Their Hands

In poetry class a student writes: “The heart is symmetrical.” “No it isn’t,” I say, too harshly.  I know what she means, a few days past Valentine’s, but I’m trying to demonstrate how to be more careful with one’s words, or perhaps how to be more careful with one’s heart.  I vow to set her...
Genderfuck

Genderfuck

In the fifth grade, all the teachers divide you boy from girl and take you into separate classrooms. With the girls, you learn about periods and cramps and tampons, and everyone giggles. Afterwards, you all rejoin the boys, who are holding complimentary sticks of deodorant and laughing among themselves. You wonder what they learned, and...
Heathen, Slave, Woman

Heathen, Slave, Woman

There was a time I hoped my prayers would travel from the Hebrew Academy’s makeshift synagogue in a Hartford basement to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. First, though, I wanted them to move just a few feet, out of the dingy cramped section where the girls sat and into the bright, sacred space I could glimpse...
Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa

I laughed at gay people. I did. I snickered at their crewcuts and sashay and flagrancy. I snickered at the way they bristled about their rights. I did. I accused them of inventing disco. I laughed at their thing for feathers and glitter and fragrance and form-fitting uniforms. I grinned at the epic extravagance of...
When You Knock on the Door at the Suburban Inn

When You Knock on the Door at the Suburban Inn

You don’t want any surprises. Say, “Housekeeping!” Say it again. Louder. A man with a watermelon belly opens the door, and another sitting on the bed says, “Hello, little lady.” He stares at the box TV. A toilet flushes, and a third comes out of the bathroom, pulling up his zipper. “Want some help?” the...