Bookish and not so Bookish Mostly-LGBT Thoughts

I really hope that ChristineLaura and Cayce won’t mind, but I’m combining Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts and LGBT Month this week. I really have little to no time to write more with these dumb exams!


1. I accidentally read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe before the LGBT-month read-along. Just as well, though, seeing as the read-along is in the worst week of exams. It’s a great book though, and I’m sure everyone will love it.

2. This week’s challenge is poetry! I did some blackout poetry from Yes, I am! Most of my LGBT books are e-books so I took the only one that I have here in hard-copy. This was easier said than done. It is from a piece called Nineteen Sixty-Seven by Peter Krummeck in the anthology Yes, I am! writing by South African gay men, compiled by Malan and Johaardien. Hope it makes sense to you!

blackout poetry lgbt - Copy

3. I wanted to do a post about LGBT in South African fiction… and then I couldn’t come up with any. That’s a little awkward, right? I must be missing something. Fellow S’Affers, can you think of any? Particularly in YA fiction. I can think of one of two characters in some of our literary novels, but none that are recent.

4. Here is a non-fiction reading suggestion: Atrium is the free publication of Northwestern University’s Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program. Check the latest issue (issue 12) and read In the Manner of a Bad Girl on page 10. It is about the fa’afafine (transgender community, but not exactly) of Samoa, and addresses some really salient points, for example the way that Samoa’s fa’afafine do not face the same struggles as LGBTQI individuals in other countries, largely because they are seen as a normal community within their society.

5. One of the things I’ve been studying for exams is Urology. The chapter on intersex worries me every single time. Not only because physiologically and surgically it’s quite challenging, but also because I don’t like the way it is addressed in South Africa. We are pushed to help parents “pick a gender” for the child as soon after birth as possible, and male sex is given preference if the phallus is “big enough” because these patients are often infertile, and in many South African cultures male infertility is less frowned-upon than female infertility. THERE ARE JUST SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH ALL OF THIS. In most European countries, gender assignment does not have to be done immediately: they wait and see so that the child can come into his/her OWN identity. Just because South Africa is a developing country doesn’t mean we need to be backward…

6. I’m reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth on the side. Like, a chapter a day during a study break, but it’s something. I’m quite liking it although I’ve reached the the really shocking part of the book and it makes me want to get on my soapbox. It reads kind of like a memoir, very different from normal YA.

7. Here’s a commercial that I thought was really great. Well done, Varsity College. All universities and colleges should understand this concept. I wish my professors did!

8. I signed up for Armchair BEA. It’s my dream to attend the real thing one day – I mean, books AND NYC? Yes please. But I’m sure Armchair BEA will be fantastic.

9. And finally, this is what my program looks like for the next week, starting today. It’s called Hell Week, and with good reason. Except for the first, these are all practical and oral OSCEs.

THURSDAY: Ophthalmology Final Exam (my favourite rotation, and the exam was awful)

EASTER WEEKEND: studystudystudy. Because Medicine insists on ruining Easter for me.

TUESDAY: Surgery final exam (general/trauma/vascular/head&neck&breast/paeds/neuro)

WEDNESDAY: ENT final exam, Ortho final exam

THURSDAY: Anaesthetics final exam, Urology Final Exam

FRIDAY: Family Medicine final exam



  1. Tara says:

    Hey! I just wanted to recommend a great book about the intersex issue you mentioned above. We read “Sexing The Body” by Anne Fausto-Sterling, and it really covered the issue in depth. She has a biology background, so she looked at it from a medical perspective and a socio-cultural/feminist perspective. We noted in class that we wished medical students would read the book! I can’t believe they force parents to pick the sex at birth like that in South Africa, though many doctors (and parents) in the US still do that, even though they could theoretically do otherwise. Such a complicated and fascinating issue when you really read into it!

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I checked with my school’s library and they actually stock it. Had to force myself not to start reading it during exams, HAH!

  2. Priya says:

    I love the idea of the black out poetry. I have a feeling it will be easier said than done. But what you’ve made is really good, of course, just ten words packed with so much meaning. The commercial is awesome, but I don’t see *my* professors understanding it any time soon. Oh, and thanks for the reminder to sign up for Armchair BEA!

    1. No problem! Meh, I feel like professors have this narrow outlook on life (generalising, of course) and I wish that would change!

  3. Yes, I am! is new to me (and I don’t think I have ever come across an LGBT novel written by a South African author either…), but I love you blackout poem. The second part (blood and pride…) sounds especially powerful.

    What you said about pushing the parents to “pick” a gender does sound WRONG (it’s their child, but it’s not their body)… and I think it happens in other countries too… 😦

    Wow, so. many. exams. Good luck with all of them!! And Happy Easter 🙂

    1. Thanks – it’s a great anthology, though I don’t know if it publishes overseas.
      Tara suggested a great book about the intersex issue so hopefully that will shed some light on it!

  4. harveylisam says:

    Good luck with all the exams!! You’ll be fine. 🙂

    Also, I feel like in Canada we’re taught that a sex should be chosen as soon as possible for the child as well. I think because it’s so psychologically traumatic for the family? I don’t even know. But yep, I would agree – it’s a tricky subject all around.

    1. Thanks for the well wishes 🙂
      I remember seeing something like that in Toronto Notes actually, so you’re probably right. I just wonder if “fixing” the presenting problem really makes it any less traumatic for the family. I think it just gives them the illusion of doing something… and then they’re prone to a shock if the child doesn’t happen to identify with the sex they have chosen…

  5. I don’t mind at all!

    I’d LOVE to go to BEA one year, but it always falls at the end of our school year during or right before finals. Someday…

    1. Ah, it sounds like it happens at a pretty awkward time of the year!

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