When lesbian travel writer Nina Krieger moves to San Francisco, she meets an intriguing group of hip, young transgendered people, and they get Nina to thinking about her identity.
Because the author now goes by the name Nick, we know how Nina Here Nor There ends, but it’s still fun to go on the journey. We’re there when Nina tries on her first binder (an undergarment used to flatten breasts); shops for her first packer (a device which replicates a penis); comes out to her family; and finally, makes the brave decision to have her breasts removed. The scenes where Nina interacts with her family are often heart-wrenching, but there is comic relief when Nina writes a hysterical letter to her breast surgeon, pleading her case.
Nina Here Nor There (and how clever a title is that?) is sometimes slow-going, but overall a very well-written, important book. It challenges the belief that transgendered people know from a young age that they are different. As Krieger’s book shows, anyone can discover at any time that he or she is living in the wrong body, and that is something that should get us all thinking.
Nina Here Nor There works on several levels–as a guide for people who want to transition; as a conversation-starter for those interested in gender issues; as a heartfelt memoir; and as a fun, fly-on-the-wall look at San Francisco’s diverse LGBT scene.
With this memoir and Chaz Bono’s recent autobiography Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, 2011 is proving to be a great year for transgendered writing. Let’s hope these books encourage others to tell their stories.