As I was completing the writing of this book, I became suddenly ill. I had further complications, potentially connected to my testosterone use, that brought a new tenor to my meditations on what testosterone does and can do to a body like mine. This book is not meant to be one about transition or about testosterone. Rather, it investigates the powers of this strange elixir to not only shape and reshape the body, but also to blast the doors open, to instigate a confrontation with all the parts of one’s being, becoming, and undoing. Which is to say, my time with testosterone has also been my time with pain, illness, and trauma.
~ KJ Cerankowski
The landscape of trauma is scattered with ghosts. Wolves hunkering in the shadows. Memory’s spectral persistence and evasion. Leaky bodies and selves gathered up in the storm of pain. Genders imposed and genders made. History’s cruel excisions, scars, the spillage of wounds. A landscape in which we are nevertheless called to build home. Here, “storytelling is a kind of suturing.”
Combining memoir, lyrical essay, and cultural criticism, KJ Cerankowski’s Suture: Trauma and Trans Becoming stitches together an embodied history of trauma and its ongoing impacts on the lived realities of trans, queer, and other marginalized subjects. Suture is a conjuration, a patchwork knitting of ghost stories attending to the wound as its own archive. It is a journey through many “transitions”: of gender; through illness and chronic pain; from childhood to adulthood and back again; of psyche and form in the wake of abuse and through the work of healing; and of the self, becoming in and through the ongoingness of settler colonial violence and its attendant subjugations of diverse forms of life.
Refusing a traditional binary-based gender transition narrative, as well as dominant psychoanalytic narratives of trauma that center an individual process of symptom, diagnosis, and cure, Suture explores the refractive nature of trauma’s dispersed roots and lingering effects. If the wounds of trauma are disquiet apparitions—repetitions within the cut—these stories tend the seams through which the simultaneous loneliness of mourning and togetherness of queer intersubjective relations converge. Across these essays, healing, and indeed living, is a state of perpetual becoming, surviving, and loving, in the nonlinearities of trauma time, body-time, and queer time.
KJ Cerankowski is Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist studies at Oberlin College. He is co-editor of the book Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge, 2014) and his poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Short, Fast, & Deadly, Paper Darts, The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought, and Home Is Where You Queer Your Heart (Foglifter Press, 2021).
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