Gender: Your Guide – A Gender-Friendly Primer On What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture by Lee Airton, Ph.D. is a book that should be on every bookcase in America. You don’t need to have a transgender child or family member to read this book.
The book is a resource for how best to support transgender people. Gender is an ever-evolving construct that can be hard to keep up with. In their book, Airton covers key concepts that allow us to exist in today’s world. What to know, say, and do.
This book focuses on the social life of gender: on what you can do with language and various practices to open up gender and welcome all of the people and possibilities around you. p. 34
In “What to Know,” Airton covers topics such as the nature vs. nurture debate, how gender is all around us, and how biology and socialization impact one another. The reader gets to create their own “gender-friendly road map” (p.48). This consists of three parts. First, you consider where you are now. Then you evaluate how you see gender in your life and who is welcome. Finally, you work on making your space more gender-friendly.
In “What to Say,” Airton covers topics such as gender-neutral pronouns, neo-pronouns, and strategies for using people’s pronouns correctly. There is an extensive conversation about the use of singular they, how to use it, and when and where. Airton devotes an entire chapter to gendered language and how we can get out of the habit of using it.
“The truth of someone’s gender identity doesn’t lie in whether a perfect stranger can mindlessly tick one of the binary boxes based on how that person looks or sounds. What you think you know about someone else on the basis of what you see or hear might not actually reflect who they are. When you presume otherwise, you welcome only some people into your space: people who are or who seamlessly pass as cisgender.” p. 138.
In “What do Do,” Airton covers topics such as bracketing your surprise (more on this in the book), gender friendly ways to talk about other people, and outlines a plan for supporting your person. They finish with a way to grow your gender-friendly community. The book ends with a letter to transgender folks who might be reading the book.
At 214 pages, Gender: Your Guide is a book you could easily finish in a weekend. The book contains a glossary and a list of resources for books, pronouns, and organizations. It’s important to note that Lee Airton, Ph.D. is a nonbinary person. They have the authority to understand and write about topics that impact transgender and nonbinary people.
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