some thoughts about nevada
trigger Warnings: general internalized transphobia, dysphoria. i wander off topic a lot here and theres tons of stuff that i feel probably should be on my diary and not here but im pretty sure almost no one reads this so it doesnt matter.
nevada is a book written by imogen binnie
like the title says, this is not really a review but a way of putting down some thoughts i had while and after reading. it is also not a plot summary of the book and i did not wrote linearly.
i wanted to read this because i knew it was going to be relevant to me, the representation i seek for and can relate to is scarce and often not present in media.
its not just representation of trans women but trans women that are queer, that are gender non conforming, that feel inadequate, that Are inadequate in a society that forces on us the idea that we are failing at life, that the only way that we can have normal lives is being supermodels, that if we dont define ourselves thru male validation we dont even exist and how very very ill that makes us. so ill it often kills us.
the news, the media, even other trans women in the web pits with its memes of compressed and weaponized self hate they all tells us that this is the only way. they prey on my constant struggle of wanting my life to be easier and being firmly opposed to assimilation.
obviously it hit me hard and made me reflect a lot about myself and my place in the world but let me be clear that as much as i relate to the protagonist she's obviously not supposed to be a role-model or i dont view her as that, is not my intention to romanticize her character. she's flawed like we all are and that speaks to me and for me is what good writing is about, being vulnerable. let us learn of an entire generation that read Tyler Durden wrong. (more on that on a upcoming post)
also it was immersive as well as a very engaging read !(is that redundant?) i read it quickly, made feel like i still "got it". this is very important to me as it has made my efforts on getting back to reading a lot easier. i feel like reading was once a very core part of who i was as a person and with the passing of time and the troubles ive faced i progressively lost touch with that.
maybe my turbulent identity issues partly stem from that? what i also lost touch with that was important was writing. thats why i started this blog! ive always written since i was a kid and started doing it very precocious, of course i never did it in a productive enough manner to be encouraged enough. always drafts, always little stories i started that went nowhere. i remember once my mom told me when i was very little: its good you write now but you have to dedicate time to it because it may seem an amazing ability now that you are so young but when you are older it won't be exceptional anymore. i know she was trying to gimme seemingly crucial life advice like parents pretend to make but the pressure was too much for my little soul.
i also remember my school teachers correcting my writing habits like what im doing now, very loose stream of consciousness type stuff and that also made me feel wrong and theres some barriers i have to destroy about that too. specially because the authors i started reading later -the ones i connected with- did that too!
when i tried writing i lost interest very easily but not bc i became bored but because i became frustrated and disoriented and dont have the tools to pursue it forward.
this is also true about me today, even tho its been struggle ive been slowly gaining tools and if you struggle with this as well my only advice is take the pressure off, stop thinking that you have to produce the novel of the century in a single sitting because thats not how writing works and start writing silly little stuff, start a journal, start a blog. read as much as you can and mimic. basically write down every thought but as an exercise, not to squeeze you out for productivity's sake but because you enjoy it and it helps you heal (this is a topic for another post tho)
getting back on topic tho haha. i guess the fact Maria works at a bookstore is related to all of this because ive always wanted to have a job like that because of what i just told you. this is related to artist's particular explotation under the late-stage work system but thats also for another post since i've already done a couple writings related for class.
to be brief this book helped me come to terms with some stuff that i've been deeply in denial about myself.
like how righteous i've been about others peoples transitions out of how insecure i feel about mine (i've written a little about that before here but i feel there's more to come)
it also made me reflect on my feelings of inadequacy, of emotional unavailabilty (this has been a constant on my life lately) of how this inadequacy makes me lash out bc of how resentful i feel sometimes. again, because i am so so insecure.
(three following paragraphs you can skip if you dont wanna hear about the genital dysphoria aspects of the books and my feelings aabout that)
most importantly, it made finally accept that i suffer from crippling genital dysphoria and how this affects me. not just bc of my sexual life and self image, but how this affects the way i feel among others in my social life and in my close bonds. how my body is present in space. maybe im just being delusional thinking it will be a cure-all solution. but it was one that i've been trying to avoid for ages.
i tried to embody this punk feminist that didn't care about the world, didn't care what ppl thought, my body was like this and i didn't need to prove anything. im ok with my "junk" (as Maria calls it) i dont care about that im so progressive. but what if i can be both? i can have that attitude and further that way of thought but also recognize my own vulnerabilities, that navigating the world as a trans woman is devastating and also find people who i can discuss this with beyond all the hugboxing that i'm exhausted of, but then im wandering off topic and is not much about my particular issue.
also since im such a feminist where was the body autonomy in that? is funny that Maria also says something similar about why she shaves her legs, that she's a feminist so doesnt believe in shaving but the thought of people seeing her hairy legs put her on edge. i was obviously lying to myself i mean i'd make this big statement, force me to engage in stuff that only deepened my feelings of despair about that and dissociate out of my mind, and then go on self harm doomscroll binges of post-op pics and think "yea idk about this, not good enough, complications scare me too much, its not what i really want" wich are all valid thoughts of course but in my case i was just finding excuse after excuse. i say "most importantly" more as a literary device haha im not sure if its the most important takeaway i got from this book but it sounded good.
i forgot about the last one: just remembered Maria IS a writer. and the way she thought about her blog made me think about how we navigate our need of validation, of close bonds, of healing our attachment wounds, but we only isolate ourselves of our emotional surroundings. how i sought that on being popular online, trying to market myself for attention juice and left me drained and bitter. i've also written about that briefly here and its a subject i really want to expand on.
Maria uses her blog as an escape but also as an anchor. Just like her bike, its as much a way to evade her life like it is a way to keep herself In it. im pretty sure she says once or twice that the only thing she lives for is her bike and her writing is very important to her too. her character is so marked by escapism, so obvious that is noted by Steph when she talks about how everytime Maria is feeling bad she starts fantasizin about an actual scape or trip (i do this too) i can also relate to how free i feel sometimes riding a bike thru the city i feel unseen in the best way like in the speed i dont have to worry about being perceived or judged im just a fast blur.
now stuff i disliked:
i wish we got more biking scenes out of new york, would've been interesting to see her biking in the desert or in a mountain, idk i think about how my own imagined roadtrip more that way i think, maybe not biking but hiking a stuff. i guess is not that much a critique.
but what i definely did not like, apart that the fact she is an USian new yorker wich i feel is a tired subject, is the portayal of her transition. or the result of it.
i felt the same about Detransition, Baby and i felt the same about The Pervert. is the idea that trans women transition and its kinda awkward at first but then that's it, its finished. you are a woman now and apart from the fear that someone might "clock you" its not really an issue. done, assimilated. everyone must have such good genes god, are all USians this way? im being bitter, im probably projecting my insecurities Again. but i feel this just buys into the hegemonic trans narrative that it also goes against.
despite that, within its own limitations, the book captures well some of the pressures and expectations we has trans women are forced to answer too. and how Maria navigates all this in a way that makes sense for her and doesnt mean she is giving in and personifying something she is not. she has a lot of issued specially about her place in the world but her authenticity is something that pierces thru the whole book.
the way i see this has a lot to do with my thoughts on trans assimilation wich, again, subject for another post since this one is already getting too long. these are also a projection of insecurities probably, isnt it all? To be clear, im not saying that the trans narratives i want to see are trauma porn transition struggle stories since i also feel its a tired subject, im very happy to see stories with trans women just living their lives and having varied struggles that are not like that tiktok that says "how cis men write trans women" and is like someone with a wig crying in front of the mirror and then they take the wig off and they make a very blunt cut and A Dude replaces them. i dont want that either. idk i have mixed feelings about this but i wanted to touch the subject. it has a lot to do with how "jealous" i am and how unsatisfied i am about my own life.