How to Be Between
How to Be Between is a memoir about female facial hair, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and negotiating identity for those visibly between gender binaries.
Young women’s bodies are relentlessly scrutinised and judged, so for most, the appearance of facial hair is a traumatic experience — unnatural, unfeminine, unwanted. But what happens when a female-assigned person decides to embrace their facial hair? In How to Be Between, Bastian Fox Phelan explores how something as seemingly trivial as facial hair can act as a catalyst for a never-ending series of questions about the self. What happens when we accept our bodies as they are? What freedoms are gained by deciding to pursue an authentic sense of self, and what are the costs? As Bastian navigates adolescence and young adulthood, they meet many people who ask, ‘Who, or what, are you?’
Written with a tender sense of compassion and openness to experience, Phelan’s memoir charts a young activist and writer’s life as they find their voice through political action, publishing zines and playing music. An exploration of youthful anxiety, medical discourse and shifting identities, Bastian Fox Phelan’s memoir shines a light on what it means to find joy, resilience and radical self-acceptance in a body that refuses to fit within gender binaries.
'How to Be Between is a memoir that takes the reader on a tour of Australian counterculture at the beginning of the 21st century, through queer spaces, art festivals, DIY punk shows, protests, zine distros and the edges of academia...Phelan’s memoir is a celebration of these things and the people who make them, and a celebration of being between in general. It’s a smart and moving book that I wished wouldn’t end, for readers who enjoy emotional stories from the edges of Australia, such as Omar Sakr’s poetry collection The Lost Arabs, Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light or Alice Chipkin and Jessica Tavassoli’s Eyes Too Dry.' — David Little, Books+Publishing
Bastian Fox Phelan is a writer, musician and zine maker living in Mulubinba Newcastle on Awabakal land. Their zines, including cult classics Ladybeard and How to Be Alone, are held in collections around the world, and they have worked with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and National Young Writers’ Festival on major zine fair events. Bastian’s writing has been published in journals including Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, Archer and The Lifted Brow, and they make music as part of dream-pop duo Moonsign. How to Be Between is their first book.