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Nevada by Imogen Binnie

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Read Nevada by Imogen Binnie ( )

Maria Griffiths is almost thirty and works at a used bookstore in New York City while trying to stay true to her punk values. She’s in love with her bike but not with her girlfriend, Steph. She takes random pills and drinks more than is good for her, but doesn’t inject anything except, when she remembers, estrogen, because she’s trans. Everything is mostly fine until Maria and Steph break up, sending Maria into a tailspin, and then onto a cross-country trek in the car she steals from Steph. She ends up in the backwater town of Star City, Nevada, where she meets James, who is probably but not certainly trans, and who reminds Maria of her younger self. As Maria finds herself in the awkward position of trans role model, she realizes that she could become James’s savior–or his downfall.

I understand why Nevada is a classic, alright? I really do. It’s messy and unapologetic and the story is good and it explains things without feeling like a lecture and yes, it captures lots of trans experiences.

Or, well, transfeminine experiences? I felt like many pieces of the description could apply to me, but Imogen Binnie takes great care to remind us every few pages that transmasculine people do not belong in the world she created.

There’s one trans guy, and he’s happy about being trans, and the protagonist blames him for it because trans men are happy about being trans, because they’re feminists, while trans women aren’t. Ah, they also ban trans women from their sex parties because I guess trans men are all lesbians. And of course, the constant « I’d have it so easy if I could have a charity gala for my top surgery like them ». Usually followed by « I refuse to ask for money on my blog » but hey it’s the transmascs’ fault, definitely not the protagonist who’d rather blame others than try for herself. (Transmasculine people do tend to rely on crowdfunding more for their surgery, but the politics at play are extremely unfair there too.)

This seemed like a lot of misdirected anger and just made our protagonist look like an asshole. Not that she was likeable for anything else, but being messy and unlikeable and being an asshole are not the same thing, and she fully crossed the line more than once.

Which is unfortunate because again: it’s a good book. It’s a classic for good reason. It tells a great story, it tells it well, and I wish it didn’t casually throw 50% of trans people under the bus while doing it.

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