Beyond the Gender Binary

Penguin Workshop. (Pocket Change Collective). Jun. 2020. 64p. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780593094655.
Gr 7 Up–Activist and artist Vaid-Menon writes with purpose and passion about the harmful impact of judging gender non-conforming individuals through the lens of the gender binary. The author, who grew up in an Indian American family in College Station, TX, recounts how their experience, their life, and their way of moving through the world were not only viewed as wrong but as something to be ashamed of. They explain, “Overnight, so many of the things that I loved not only became associated with femininity but with shame.” They share their process of personal growth during adolescence and young adulthood, which led to self-acceptance, pride, and the freedom and joy that accompanied that awareness. The second half of this short, powerful book breaks down the arguments that are often leveled against people who live beyond the gender binary. These arguments are divided into four categories: dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope. Each argument is defined and then Vaid-Menon brilliantly explains how damaging, short-sighted, and often hypocritical these assertions can be. Overall, the message is empowering, informative, and supportive, offering young people a beacon of hope in what can be a dark time.
VERDICT An affirming, thoughtful read for all ages. Recommended.

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