At a recent reading in New York City, writer Casey Plett quipped, "I'm writing a memoir about my transition. Of course I am. I think it's required these day by the Standards of Care."
In Nina Here Nor There, author Nick Krieger's contribution to the transgender memoir cannon, he relates a story that is a departure from the classic trans narrative not only in tone, but in the basic plot points as well.
Historically, much of trans memoir is devastatingly tragic. Some of the authors of the earliest first-person stories of open transgender lives detailed continual struggle and conflicts with oppressive authorities and suffering at the hands of medical personnel, cops and mental health professionals. These are important books and important stories. They are also—at times-- extremely difficult to read.
Krieger's book is not difficult in this way. In fact, while the book fits solidly in the category of transgender memoir, it is not transition memoir. Yes, Krieger talks about his process of obtaining top surgery, but his visit to the doctor is told essentially as a funny anecdote within a greater context of lovers, friends, daily life, smoking (medicinal) pot, and going to his friends' top surgery fund raising parties. He describes his actual travel as much as any transition journey and even when he seems to be exerting a fair amount of mental energy thinking about gender, he still appears to be enjoying his San Francisco life.
In fact, Nina Here Nor There is most intriguing when Krieger is talking about his San Francisco community of lesbian, dyke-identified and transmasculine people. He considers the whole scene with an almost detached bemusement while not being afraid to poke fun at himself for his judgmental moments and own up to his places of privilege.
The authors who penned the first generation of trans memoir claimed immense cultural ground. Krieger walks down the path they cleared, not as a wounded gender warrior but as a curious—even slightly goofy-- gender sleuth. The result is a unique, hopeful book which is surprisingly tender and hella funny.