Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Nick Krieger: Exploring the Territory Between Male and Female
While in residence at VCCA, Nick Krieger was working on the third draft of the follow-up to his highly acclaimed memoir, Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender (Beacon Press, 2011). The book won a Stonewall Honor Book Award and an Independent Literary Award in the GLBTQ category.
“It’s still early on in a certain sense and yet there’s this feeling that I finally have some direction,” says Nick of this second book. “It’s been really great to immerse myself in the project. I’ve become interested in it again.”
Nick’s story adds a valuable, often overlooked voice to the transgender narrative, which typically presents a person born in the “wrong“ body. Nick shares a very different experience. For him, it is much more complicated. He embraces himself as both man and woman.
“This gray area and middle ground is becoming a little more understandable to people because of progress in trans acceptance,” explains Nick. “Trans people have historically been so invalidated in our identities, that we couldn’t say I’m both because the reaction would be oh no, then you're really just the gender assigned at birth. It’s partially due to this invalidation that some trans folks felt forced to definitively attach to one gender or the other: I am woman. I am man. But there’s more acceptance and less restrictive categories now, so I have the freedom to say I’m both genders, whereas 20 years ago I don’t think trans people had that opportunity.”
Nick’s second memoir weaves Nick’s very serious yoga practice together with his trans journey. “Yoga has been a steady line through my entire process of transition. I found yoga after a break-up, but it came at a time when I was starting to see all the possibilities and permutations of gender expressions and gender identities.”
Doing yoga was the one time when he could set aside all his worries and questions. It became a stable, calm place to retreat to throughout his entire decision making process, and the physical practice produced cathartic effects.
Nick started out very slowly for the first year, going to yoga once a week and it grew from there. Now, he regularly attends yoga retreats around the world, and occasionally assists his yoga teacher at her trainings.
“At a certain point what became interesting to me, and what I’m writing about now, was how yoga supported me in my gender process, but also repeatedly triggered the pain and trauma of the binary gender system. So much language, especially around anatomy, is structured around these two categories of 'man' and 'woman' and as someone who saw myself as both, I often felt invisible in the yoga studio. The lack of trans inclusion was unintentional, but it made me feel unwelcome. For several years, I battled internally, drawn to this practice I loved and yet wanting to run away every time I was hurt."
Nick is now working within the yoga community to expand “what gender is, what it can be, and how genders are talked about.”
Nick’s journeys have not been restricted to yoga and gender transition; he is also a celebrated travel writer known for his personal narrative style. He has received a "Travelers’ Tales" Solas Award for Best Funny Story and won the annual BakPak Travelers’ Guide essay contest, which resulted in a one-month trip to Central Europe to write for the travel guide. In 2013, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (DRAP) awarded Krieger a one-month residency. In 2014, DRAP nominated him for a two-month residency exchange at the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program. Selected publications include: "Guernica Magazine of Art & Politics," "The Rumpus," "The Advocate," "Town & Country," "Decolonizing Yoga," "365 Gay," "Elephant Journal," "Original Plumbing," "Velvetpark," "Curve," "The New Gay," and "Lost Magazine."
Nick has spoken about his writing at numerous universities, including Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Colgate and Boston College. nickkrieger.com
Photo: Alex Wang Photography