What is Gender? How Does It Define Us? And Other Big Questions
by Juno Dawson
"The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognising how we are" (Chimamanda Ngozi, quoted in What Is Gender?) There are now a small handful of children's/young people's titles exploring gender and transgender identities- but of very mixed quality. This book is one of the few which has received resoundingly thumbs-up reviews from our review team. Part of an excellent non-fiction series which poses all the BIG questions, this gender tour by Dawson uses a feminist framework to query and challenge conventional gender 'norms' while also embracing transgender identities and providing positive transgender role models. Chapters explore terms such as sex, intersex, gender and sexuality (making it clear sexuality is unrelated to sex/gender identity); they break down gender stereotypes; double page spreads give personal accounts from a range of role models including trans artists such as the author herself and Fox Fisher (from TV doc. My Transsexual Summer) and genderqueer performance artist, Krishna Istha. We particularly enjoyed the world map showing how gender is interpreted differently around the world, from the South Asian Hijra to the Two-Spirit, Native American, people. 'The book looks great and, unlike most books of its type, it doesn't feel po-faced, patronising, depressing or like an instruction manual. Even better, it really is for anyone interested in gender- not just a book for trans kids
or a 'mainstream' text with a token nod towards trans, non-binary and intersex identities'. (Mark, Equalities Trainer/Consultant, Letterbox Library reviewer [also on the board of Gendered Intelligence]) 'The best, clearest and most feminist-centred explanation of transgender and gender identities I've seen to date. Distinguishes between, rather than conflating, gender and sex (like so many other titles). And by a transgender author. Yes!' (Letterbox Library staff.) In contemporary culture, definitions and understandings of gender are in greater flux than ever before so this really is a great resource for school and a great read-alone for young people who are asking questions which you may feel are a little beyond you! Age 9-14, Paperback 44pp
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