This book is great. Memoirs can be awesome. But they can also sometimes be a little slow, a little bogged down in the historicals of so and so’s actual life, no matter how compelling that life was.
Kate Bornstein is anything but slow. How to describe Ms. Bornstein? One of the first things she makes clear about herself is that she is a liar. She practices her lying throughout her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger. She became very good at it, she says, since she had to spend the first half of her life pretending to be a boy that she knew she never was.
This memoir chronicles Bornstein’s journey as she comes to understand her identity as trans*, a gender outlaw, neither male nor completely female. With personality and un-relenting confidence and candor about both her successes and missteps, Kate leads us through her childhood, her decade-long foray into Scientology, and her ultimate emergence as a woman awakening to the power of her sexuality and the many, many roads she could travel with it, sadomasochism being just one of them.
I had the pleasure of seeing Kate Bornstein speak earlier this year on how we can achieve world peace through gender anarchy. Her main philosophy was this, “Do whatever you need to do, just don’t hurt anyone.” This to some extent has become one of my personal mantras. Granted, the concept of hurt is rather complex but I find it helps me see the best in people, especially people I don’t agree with, when I realize that my biggest goal is to fight for everyone to be able to be themselves…even if that self is way different than the self I would choose to be.
A Queer and Pleasant Danger shows that it takes courage and strength to be who you want to be, especially if you want to be a fabulous woman and everyone around you is telling you that you are a religious, young man and it shows how empowering finding the bravery to be yourself is.