Intersex chat life
The charges are later dropped.“I know getting out of trouble wouldn’t have been so easy if I hadn’t been able to hide behind being a girl,” Viloria writes.
“On other days all the losses seem to recede like any object in a rearview mirror once the accelerator’s been pressed, and I’ve no trouble keeping my foot on the pedal of the present.”It’s a lurching way to live; simultaneously brokenhearted and in love, crushingly bereaved one moment and surprisingly O. There are occasional mentions of parents, references to ever-changing roommates, and a disastrous affair with a co-worker, but they form a blurry background against the sharp focus of the cadavers.For what it’s worth, Valentine’s bio says she runs a dating and networking site for death professionals, a detail that may or may not have any relevance to her observation in the book that “watching someone carry out an autopsy is, in many ways, like watching someone have sex.” Let’s maybe not stop and think about that for a moment.Cooley is on sabbatical from her teaching job in New York City, though the word she’s chosen for this leave of absence is , which refers to a break between words or notes in a line of poetry or music: “In life — mine, anyway — it’s a deliberate interruption, a chance to reckon with divisions imposed by loss.”The losses have been piling up.Cooley has lost friends to drugs and suicide and cancer and various other illnesses.But three new memoirs dealing with bodies — often exuberantly so — would appear to have little use for the trauma narrative.
Hida Viloria, the author of BORN BOTH: An Intersex Life (Hachette, $27), was born with “ambiguous” genitalia, raised as a girl, and was 26 before encountering the term “intersex.” Growing up, Viloria, who prefers the pronouns “s/he” and “he/r,” aligned with the idea of being an androgynous-looking woman who was primarily attracted to other women.
As such, the final third of the book devolves somewhat into a morass of abbreviations, reports from conferences, and policy discussions folded into canned dialogue.
But all this can be forgiven because amid the public service announcements, Viloria does us the even greater service (it’s more of a gift, really) of showing us what it means to live not just as both a man and a woman but also as a third gender that eventually emerges as the right one. Many Native American tribes “believed that, unlike regular people,” intersex people “had an elevated view of life’s experiences and could ‘see down both sides of the mountain,’” Viloria writes.
The subfield of feminist scholarship devoted to narratives of what’s commonly referred to as “the body” is having something of a heyday.
Disability studies are growing in popularity, as is the prominence of intersectional theories around gender, body modification and “the politics of difference.” Often, the lines of inquiry (or “interrogations,” as academics like to say) concern themselves with power dynamics imposed by cultural norms, including those that conspire to make physicality itself a form of trauma.
The boat has remained partly submerged in the water, a body that can be neither exhumed nor buried.“In the case of tragedy,” Valentine writes in “The Chick and the Dead,” “demystifying it helps you to regain control of the emotions.