July 1999

I spend a lot of time in bookstores, looking for books that seem applicable to my life. The first time that I went to a large chain bookstore, Barnes & Noble to be exact, and started browsing the gay and lesbian studies section, I was so excited. This was in the middle of my senior year in high school, probably about ten months after I started my coming-out process. I sat on the floor with my lover, who was not out yet, and we pulled the books from the shelf one by one.

The area where I grew up is very Catholic and very provincial, so the section was rather small and did not contain many books like _The Joy of Gay Sex_, books you will find in Barnes & Noble in more urban areas. We flipped through the volumes of gay men's erotic fiction and lesbian erotic bedtime stories, we laughed nervously at the just-approaching-offensive humor, we searched through books about gay and lesbian history. As we read books about relationships and families, we checked each index for the magic word -- bisexuality. If any of them did contain a reference to our sexuality, it was no more than a page long. After spending hours in the store, we left with two books: _Two Teenagers in Twenty_ and _Bi Any Other Name_. Refuting the common assumption that bisexuality is a stage, almost none of the stories in _Two Teenagers in Twenty_ even mentioned bisexuality. But _Bi Any Other Name_ was wonderful. Everyone out there should read it: bisexuals for the support it offers and others as a guide to understanding us. It was terrific to read about people who came out as bisexuals before I was born and before the word bisexual even existed.

Now that I am a college student, I have had some more luck. The college libraries I have access to contain about a full shelf each of books focusing on bisexuality. The bookstores contain bisexual magazines and resources. But I have run into a new struggle: transgenderism.

Let me pause here to define what I mean by transgenderism. I am not talking about either of the two categories usually found under its umbrella, cross-dressing or transsexualism. While I have cross-dressed and while it does provide me with a wonderful feeling of self, I do not do so as a usual thing. I also have not desire to become the other sex, either physically or mentally. My transgenderism is much more complex. I find within myself so many aspects of both the masculine and the feminine that I could never choose to be either. Instead, I think of myself as one who breaks through the binary, a neither/both sort of thing. My physical appearance is such that I can not be ambiguous without great difficulty, but I can shock people with my way of thinking and speaking.

When I go into bookstores now, I find nothing that describes me. The same books show up everywhere, mostly about drag queens (who I feel a great affinity towards) and post-operative transsexuals who are secure in their new gender. There are two additional authors that fit into neither of these categories: Leslie Feinburg and Kate Bornstien, two Jewish transpeople who are the closest people I can find to my own Jewish transperson self. But both of them live full-time in a specific gender. Kate Bornstien has had sex reassignment surgery. Leslie Feinburg, at least, wants a 'she' pronoun put to a masculine self-presentation.

But almost nowhere can I find others who can see and understand my transgenderism, my breaking of boundaries. As a bisexual, I break down a binary system of sexuality that says people must be attracted to one specific gender. In fact, I am most attracted to those like myself, those who can not fit into one specific gender at all (as well as to drag queens). People like me scare many gays and lesbians, as including us in the mission for equality means realizing that we are not all "just like heterosexuals," that some of us need a complete breakdown of the gender system for true equality. One example: men's and women's bathrooms. I don't want to use either. Even some transsexuals are uncomfortable with me, as I would put their newly-found gender status at risk.

So I'll keep searching, and I'll hopefully be back with more next month.

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