A Gender as Fluid as Water, and a Body in Crisis

Corrine Manning in The New York Times:

In the depths of the ocean, creatures make their own light. There’s the angler fish, which draws prey to its massive teeth with a dangling, glowing bulb. Or the siphonophore, a shimmering, self-cloning organism that can grow longer than a blue whale. Their brightness belies the obscurity of the deep sea, how little we really know about what lives there. “What must they witness during their slow pulse through the world?” Lars Horn, the author of the rapturous lyric essay “Voice of the Fish,” muses of these creatures that are older than humans, older even than some cities.

Horn, a British writer and translator who uses the pronoun “they” (despite finding pronouns to be “slippery, distant things”), is the mystic’s David Attenborough. They would have been a Pisces if not for a troubled pregnancy and their mother and aunt’s insistence that a particular date of birth be avoided — a birthday to two men in the family with “aggressive temperaments, a certain disdain for women.” So it was that Horn was born under the star sign Aries and assigned female. After they left home years later, a healer, sought for an injured foot, told Horn that it was a “late change, by the fates, seeing you born under the Ram and not the Fishes.” He seemed to know this intuitively; Horn hadn’t mentioned anything about their birthday. “You’re to swim towards the Fishes,” the healer said, after gently washing Horn’s foot. “Water, you must move towards water.”

More here.