She/He/They/Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I  think this book, by definition, is a textbook. 

And I looove textbooks. 

They might not be as fun as novels or memoirs… But there’s something enchanting about knowing that you’re reading information assembled with the intention of teaching. I know I find it downright fascinating. When I read that “She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters” was written as a choose-your-own-adventure… Well, immediately, I was even more fascinated. Skeptical, too, of course! I had never heard of non-fiction written this way. 

I think the book, overall, worked. Written as an introduction to all things gender —and its expression through identities, roles and preferences—, the book is basic but vast, covering a lot of ground. It’s not as comprehensive as gender and sexuality demand; this, though understandable, will be a bigger or smaller flaw depending on the path your story walks. I believe this was particularly glaring in non-cisgender “adventures”, which was a big shame, considering how fully the title and cover include non-binary identities as part of the book’s audience.

My experience reading my path, as a cisgender woman, had me nodding along. In most pages, I felt seen and understood. Being seen is always worthwhile, and through the pages, I confirmed things I already suspected about myself and got to explore others. I particularly loved how the book started. The first choice made it clear that “gender” is not a tangible, unchanging concept:

	“You’re born into a time and place where gender exists… 
	…You’re born into a time and place where gender doesn’t exist.”

Gender, and everything we understand by it today, was constructed once. Throughout human history, our perception of it has changed and evolved; it’s been defined and redefined, and I think the book made this clear with subtle aplomb.
 
Despite all its virtues, I don’t think the book is perfect. But after reading paths that differed drastically from my own life, however, I thought this experience the book’s biggest success. Though flawed, the book lets its audience inhabit the skin of many others. As a professor —of graphic design, not gender studies—, I couldn’t help but think that the book, complemented with more thorough essays, would allow for very interesting dynamics in a classroom. I would definitely use it, if my classes ever veered into gender.

I hope the author comes back to this project. I truly believe that a second edition —one that expanded on the non-binary paths— could turn a good book, into a great one. In the meantime, I do recommend this version. We need more literature willing to tackle gender as the fluid, ever-changing concept that it is. This book manages, and it does so in a very interesting way.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy.

I had a hard time getting through this. It was so slow and it made me tired while reading. Maybe it wasn't the best executed for me.
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Well it's no coincidence that I am writing this review during Pride Month.  She/He/They/Me, is written in such an educational manner that it is a must-read for anyone.  You can take the journey of following your own path, or read the book page by page, which I opted for, and it above all teaches you and re-teaches you gender, sexuality, and preference.  As an ally, it has brought nothing but new educational facts to support my position and teach that to others.  Robyn Ryle, has pulled the thread that unravels all of what we, as humanity, think we know, and if given this book a read would definitely understand ourselves and others.  You don't have to be a part of the LGTBQIA+ community to appreciate the work put into this book, but anyone, LGTBQIA community or not, can learn so much about who we are as individuals and those around us.
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I got this book as en eArc through netgalley in exchange for an honest review
This book is written in an ”choose your own adventure” way, so you can expect to turn plenty of pages as you go both back and forth to find your destination. 
I really enjoyed reading the different branches and paths. I started by following my own, and then I took some other paths to try and see where that would land me. It was an interesting experience, and rather interesting!
This book was full of information, but sadly I already knew a lot of what was written. But if you’re new to exploring the whole spectrum of genders and sexualities, then this book as a good place to start. You’re introduced to the basics and given information about the cultural and historical aspects of gender, which is very cool. 
Given the cover and the blurb I assumed the author would refrain from using cisgender as the norm, but sadly there are places where the phase “man vs. trans man” and “woman vs. trans woman” appear, and there isn’t a lot of focus on the less known groups as intersex and non-binary.
All in all this is a very informative book written in a fresh format that makes it a fun read. It’s not a book you read from cover to cover, and after a couple of paths you feel like you have “experienced” it all.
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Seeing the author's background, it doesn't surprise me that this book seems tailored for mostly white, cisgender individuals who've never thought too deeply about gender before. If you're nonbinary and have spent significant time interrogating gender and your own identity, then please don't let the book cover fool you: there's not much here for someone who doesn't know the basics.

The book is a choose your own adventure, but in the digital copy I read, it falls short due to a lack of links to take you to new sections. Ultimately, I had to read it in page order, which didn't diminish the experience, exactly, but it definitely wasn't the intended method. After attempting the choose your own adventure method, I'm convinced it's more of a gimmick than an effective teaching tool. Others may disagree, however, so I'm glad something like this exists.

An intersectional understanding of gender and identity is attempted, but it falls a little flat. Those deviating from the cisgendered white norm - especially if you're a member of an indigenous culture mentioned for your "unique" gender or values - are treated with the awkward sterility you'd expect of an academic. It's sincerely appreciated to see an attempt made in this area, but there's room for improvement. Nonbinary identities in the West are largely written off, though I suppose we're to take it as progress that they're mentioned at all. Again, considering the cover and the way the book is marketed, it's disappointing. (The agender adventure path, for example, was a quarter of a page long, at most, and basically said, "This identity is too new so I can't say anything about it; how exciting!" Sigh.)

Overall, She/He/They/Me is maybe something to recommend to your clueless parents or friends.
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An appealing and creative approach to gender matters. teh amount of reasearch behind this project as incredible and I respect the author because of that and her passion for the subject, but I found it a bit bothersome not to have more information about genres in other countries and societies out of the US. Other than that, I liked the book and would like to explore other options and paths in the future.
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Reading this book was… exhausting. I did two full paths, as well as several detours where I checked out another path, and many dead-ends. In the end, I’m sure there are still chapters I haven’t read (I might return to them later), but I feel like I have a good enough idea to write a review.

Here’s the short version: as an information resource, this book is pretty good. As a choose-your-own-adventure book that emphasises nonbinary people on the cover, it fails terribly.

1) Let’s talk about the information first. Most of this book is about binary gender roles in Western culture, with a US focus. It addresses race, class, and has some chapters on transgender healthcare, as well as a few chapters on other countries, and explanation of gender roles in some indigenous cultures. It also deals with some statistics, and gave information about gender in Olympic sports that was really interesting to me. Obviously, I can’t speak for the accuracy of all this information, but I appreciated the intersectionality, and the focus on issues that I didn’t even think of.

So, why does this book absolutely fail to deliver what the cover and blurb seemed to promise?

2a) A quick word about the formatting. I read an e-ARC that had links to every chapter in the contents, but at the end of chapters (where it gives you the choices and tells you which chapter to go next) there are no links. There are also no page numbers, which (especially in a paperback copy) would have been much more useful in my opinion than chapter numbers. This book required a lot of jumping around, as all choose-your-adventure books do, but the actual activity of jumping around was so inconvenient that after my second read-through it just got frustrating.

2b) And now let me talk about my personal experience trying to read this book as it was intended, as a nonbinary person.

On my first read, I picked that my assigned gender didn’t match the gender I felt I was. So far, so good. Next question is whether your parents accept your gender identity or not. I picked no, so I was taken to a chapter that forced me into “pretending to be a cis person for now”. And then… the gender questioning thing never came up again. I actually knew about this because another reviewer pointed it out, but it was still a really dysphoric experience, and a pretty big oversight. There could have been a chapter there about transitioning as an adult, or leaving your parents, or ANYTHING. But no, I guess if your parents don’t accept your gender then you’re out of luck forever.

On my second read, I picked that my parents accept my gender identity. This allowed me some options, like choose to be a transgender man, a transgender woman, nonbinary, or agender. (Yes, nonbinary and agender are separate.) I picked the nonbinary option, and there was about… one chapter about nonbinary experiences. Then at the marriage part, the route merged with the previous path, and I was forced into a binary of picking between being a man or a woman.

Other things I noticed:

1) If you pick the asexual option, you can be either alloromantic or aromantic, but if you pick to be allosexual, there is no mention of aromanticism.

2) I mentioned this above, but I’d just like to emphasize that for a book that emphasises nonbinary people on the cover, all the medical, sports, work and other information is only for men and women. I understand that Western society is binarist, but at the very least it could have been phrased as “you are perceived as a woman” or something similar, as opposed to “you ARE a woman”. There are also very few chapters specifically about nonbinary experiences in non-indigenous cultures.

3) There are several chapters where man vs trans man and woman vs trans woman are used, as opposed to cis man vs trans man or cis woman vs trans woman. There is also a chapter where the sentence “they have lived their lives as normal women” (as opposed to intersex) is used.

In summary, the information in this book focuses on a lot of issues and includes a variety of experiences – however, it heavily erases nonbinary people in non-indigenous cultures, and treats cisgender people as the norm, which was really disappointing after that cover.
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As a nonbinary person I was excited about this choose-your-own-path book that seemingly would allow you to follow a path of no gender or a gender other than male or female. Therefore I was quite disappointed when I exhausted the gender variant options within 15 minutes. I would love love this book if there were more paths for people who don't fit into the gender binary and if it had more information about nonbinary identities, but unfortunately it was lacking in that area.
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I enjoyed this book. It's definitely a novel approach to teaching and learning about gender as it relates to health and society.

The book is structured like a choose-your-own-adventure book, with divergent paths that allow you to not only explore the implications of your own gender identity but also invites you to explore other identity paths in order to better understand others' experiences.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that towards the end, the book invites you to explore world with a different conception of gender and what that might be like.

Overall, this is a solid book with an engaging and educational format.
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This is a wonderful book on the nuance of gender. I'm fairly well-read in the subject matter, and I still learned something. The amount of information and history this book contains is seriously impressive. I think the flip-book "choose your own adventure" style is novel and allows for a custom reading experience. The back and forth makes it friendly and easy to digest. The stand-alone nature of the segments means it is easy to just flip to a random spot in the book and get something out of it. However, if you subscribe to the "open the book to a random page" philosophy of reading, the book will lead you to flip to more and more chapters. Be prepared rto learn many things.

Although it is available on kindle, I strongly recommend that people buy this in paper--and I'm someone who prefers to read digitally. I don't think the flipping around is easily accomplished in digital format. For myself, I started reading online through Net Galley but waited for the actual book release to finish the book in hardback.  

It's thorough, inclusive, and fun to read. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in exploring gender or someone frustrated by trying to explain gender to someone else. 

Thanks Net Galley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is absolutely wonderful. A choose your own adventure book about gender identity. The nontypical format makes it fun to read and accessible for both adults and younger. It really is an amazing book and I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn about gender identities.
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*I received an ARC of this book from Sourcebooks through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I read this book in one sitting, it was impossible to put down.  

I was drawn to this book because it discusses one of the topics that interest me the most: gender. Then, I read it was a choose your own path book and it blew my mind. How can a non-fiction book be written in that style? I’d like to start this review by stating that the author made it work. It takes a while to get use to, but it ends up making the read very interesting and it gives it a somewhat personalized feeling. I must caution potential readers (as does the book), it does not intend to be an exact recreation of every individual experience (with gender there is no way for it to be). But it does tackle many important issues about gender assignment, gender identity and gender expression. 

While reading the book I tried to stick to my own path, choosing the chapters as true to my case as possible (I may have taken a peek at other chapters too, oops!), so my experience with the book can be very different from the experience of others. I appreciated that the book contained definitions of the vocabulary being used, because even though I was familiar with it, others may not be, and the book seems to be interested in people who are just coming into the gender discussion. Being written by a university professor I thought the language would be somewhat inaccessible, but it wasn’t, and I also appreciate that. In addition, the author brings into the discussion important and relevant statistics (for example, gender inequality statistics by country) that I didn’t know about. So, in this sense, the book was very educational for me.    

I wouldn’t want anyone to take my next comment as a deterrent to read this book. My only “problem” (I call it this for lack of a better word) with the book is that at some point I felt it made an incorrect assumption about queerness. Specifically, because it assumed that someone who identifies as queer would necessarily be in a same-gender marriage. But, as I stated before, I do now it is difficult to encompass every minute detail about gender in just one book. So, even though it bugged me a bit, I’ll let it pass. 

I read all the conclusions for the book, and I found myself nodding at all of them. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to delve into the gender discussion or anyone who is eager to know a bit more about it. Also, I think it is a good personal exercise for those of us who are constantly looking into ourselves to explore parts that may have not yet been discovered. I look forward to reading other paths (aside from the one I chose based on my personal experience), I’m sure it will be fun, too.
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I like choose-your-own-adventure books and this one was about genders so of course I'd be interested. I firstly picked answers from my own experiences (and learn things) and then chose other options to see what it could be. In a way this was great because there were a lot of explanations and definitions but for a book about genders, most choices were only about being a man or a woman which really put me off. But the choose-your-own-adventure was a great way to make us learn about genders, about our own experience, and try a totally different experience.
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I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks as an ARC via NetGalley.  The opinions expressed are my own.

An interesting concept,   A Choose-Your-Own-Gender book.  However, I felt this book was more about exploring the history of gender, than to help someone who was questioning their gender.  

There are many facts presented as well as terminology, however I feel that this book was more theoretical as to showcasing what a chosen path would actually look like.  No real life testimonials to show how people are really living.  I think the most used phrases  in the book are "you might ..." and "maybe you..."

The nature of the choose-your-own style of book also led to a ton of repeating knowledge.  I started skimming after a while.
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Certainly an interesting read and suitable for those who want to learn something new about gendered identities. Not necessarily for those who just begin their journey, but also for me who quite understand some for some time. Highly recommended due to its unique format!
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I think this is an interesting concept - a choose-your-own adventure style book on gender - but just reading it through for 'myself', I found too many of the 'choices' I was given were reduced to the binary. I had to choose male or female to progress multiple times, even when I'd chosen that I didn't fit the gender binary early on. I chose that I was disabled early on, but then none of the path that followed that choice seemed to be tailored to that choice. I think it's a great idea, but not as encompassing as it could have been for people outside the gender binary, which surely should have been the whole point? Also, towards the end, I was given a choice between leaving gender as it was, creating more gender equality, and abolishing gender altogether. I chose the second, because while I know gender is a construct, as many trans people could tell you, finding the right gender for your self image and identity? Super important. The book told me I was wrong and should have chosen the final option, and that only through abolishing gender altogether could the world be a good place. And I was a bit... excuse me? I had a reason to choose the way I did that is completely valid?

So, yeah, it's probably got a bunch of good information in there if you read every page and choice, but it didn't really do it for me the way I hoped it would.
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She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters is a fabulous book that takes the reader on a route through the reality of social history and customs that come along with gender roles and identities. It starts by asking whether you are born in a time and place that gender exists. Your answer determines the next page you go to. My journey took me to a society where people are born with two genders. Since my gender assignment, expression, and identity are all matching, you would think my journey would be a hop, skip, and a jump and done, but Robyn Ryle explores more about gender than you think and finds elements to complicate things such as how we feel about our bodies, disabilities, the work we do, access to birth control and more.


I love the warm and optimistic tone of this book. I loved going to a new page and seeing “Congratulations!” as the first word. Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Ryle recognizes realistic cultural biases and oppression, but the tone is so warm and comforting that the book makes a person want to continue the journey. It was intriguing and even fun to follow other possible journies that lead us all to questioning how we think about gender.

She/He/They/Me will be released on March 5th. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

She/He/They/Me at Sourcebooks
Robyn Ryle author site

★★★★★
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I absolutely love the concept of this book and the potential it holds for helping to shape how our culture discusses gender. A new take on the "choose your own adventure" the book lets you explore numerous aspects of gender identity and cultural implications of that choice. One second I found myself in a matriarchal choosing the gender of my primary caregiver and the other second I was a part of a non-binary gender culture in India. 

As far as I am concerned the original vision for this book was achieved and I am delighted to have had a chance to review it prior to release. I can not wait to see more people read this!
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I went into this book expecting one style of writing and got another. Ryle explores gender through the make your own story page finder and this is an interesting way of looking at it. The non-linear nature of it means that as a reader you do not have the same reading experience and the way the book is structured that some routes are dead ends that do not go anywhere.I enjoyed reading this and it made me consider what gender is and how it is treated in countries that aren't the UK or USA.
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I got an ARC of this book.

I was really excited for this book. It is formatted in a way that I have never seen a gender book formatted before. It fit for one of the reading challenges I am doing this year and it is about gender which is one of my favorite topics. 

The book is really basic level stuff, which is nice. It does get a bit repetitive if you read it straight through, but Ryle clearly put in effort to minimize that. The book can be read straight through and make sense, so if you wanted to make sure you got all of the stats and ideas out of the book, it would work. 

I have three issues with the book. Just two, that is pretty fantastic. Ryle clearly knows gender. I am impressed with what she was able to do and how she was able to make it interactive. My issues come down to some terms she used or didn't use. 

"Stealthy" is not the term that the trans community uses for not being openly trans. The term is Stealth. Like it isn't a super big deal, but if she was able to learn and teach trans topics so well in other areas (though she did fall a bit short when it came to the medical sections for trans people in a few ways, but they were so inclusive and affirming I can look past some of the details since they were small), she should have known that basic term. It is one of those terms that is being hotly debated all of the time and has been since trans hit the more mainstream world. Is being stealth the goal? Is being stealth a compliment? Is being stealth privilege? There are so many debates going on and she still didn't get the term right. 

She was so off about asexuality. Asexuality is not a lack of sex drive or a lack of desire to have sex. It is a lack of sexual attraction. Pretty much every time asexual was brought up I cringed. I am asexual, I talk with asexual people every day, I am part of asexual support groups. ASEXUALITY DOES NOT MEAN NOT HAVING SEX. Many asexual people have sex and enjoy sex. Many asexual people are kinky even. Many asexual people are completely grossed out by sex and will never consider having it in their lives. All are valid. Ryle misses that concept and minimizes a whole sexuality down to an act, despite warning the readers repeatedly to not do that. 

This book would have made a ton more sense if the term sex was used to refer to genitalia or chromosomal "gender". It would read smoother and make things easier to understand. It would have saved so much explaining and so much headache trying to figure out which sort of gender she was referring to when she said gender since she had some many gender options from identity, expression, physical, and more. This one is more a personal preference. Most of the people who I have read that have gender and sex as interchangeable or refuse to use sex as a term, tend to not be as inclusive as Ryle has shown herself to be. So I was really shocked. Normally it is a cis white (probably straight considering the way they talk about sexuality) dude who decides that his word is law who does this. 

So overall this book is pretty damn fantastic. There were some issues here or there, but for most people they will not even notice them. I just wish the asexuality portion was correct, then I could reasonably give this book five stars. I am just so tired of people getting it wrong and having to defend my sexuality to show it exists.
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