Date: April 6, 2022
Author Agnes Borinsky (Photo by Molly Hagan)
By Micah L., Eighth Grade Student, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Agnes Borinsky — a graduate of the Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation’s class of 2000 and a published author who lives in California — recently released a book loosely based on her own experiences as a transgender woman.
Published in 2020, “Sasha Masha” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is about a transgender teenager, Alex, growing up in Baltimore. Alex struggles with his sense of identity, and over the course of the book, learns more about the LGBTQ+ community and how to be comfortable in his own body.
KSDS has taken note of Borinsky’s work, and this is the second year that eighth grade students in Vered Nusinov’s “Coming-of-Age” course have read “Sasha Masha” while discussing its lessons and themes. To culminate their study of the book, the students in Nusinov’s first-semester course met with Borinsky over Zoom on Friday, Dec.10, for a wide-ranging discussion that covered topics related to her book, her journey and the LGBTQ+ community.
One of Borinsky’s directives in writing the book was holding “off on using the word ‘trans’ as long as [possible].” She wished to create a tale of an inability to express oneself before finally discovering and embracing who one truly is.
Borinsky says she would like not only to help LGBTQ+ people with anxiety and stress but help everyone in finding and accepting their inner selves. In addition to self-acceptance, Borinsky stresses the importance of accepting and respecting others.
“Difference and discomfort are part of the human experience,” Borinsky says. While it is fine to be nervous or uncomfortable with someone else, interactions must remain respectful. If we just respect each other and each other’s differences and become familiar with them, then before we know it, we will not be uncomfortable anymore.
Jake S. is an eight-grade student at KSDS who read “Sasha Masha” last semester in Nusinov’s English class.
“There are benefits to living in small, close-knit communities,” he says. “However, there are drawbacks, including a lack of exposure to the variety of people and cultures in the rest of the world.”
When people go out into the world, they either accept what they find or reject it. The more often that people venture into modern society, the more they grow to appreciate and accept what they find.
“We are larger and more mysterious beings than we even know,” Borinsky says. “Our task is to keep unfolding into that mystery.”
Micah L. is an eighth grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.