They/Them/Their

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Trigger/content warnings:
--- N/A

Representation:
--- non-fiction book about non-binary genders

I ended up initially DNFing this book at around 50%, but that isn't because the material itself was bad or the writing was atrocious, or anything like that. Honestly, I found it quite interesting --- it's the first book I've seen that covers non-binary and genderqueer genders, and I was excited to see what I could learn.

However, the writing style was just very...dry. It was similar to an article published in an academic journal. There's usually nothing wrong with that (I'm always down for a good academic article), but a whole book of it is hard to get through. I might get back to it over the course of the next couple months, but for now I've DNF'd.
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An important book--love the author's angle on the subject. The kind of book that more people need to read (but will they? That's the tough part.)
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This is a good introduction to the gender binary and genderqueer identities.  It's not as comprehensive as I would have liked, but given that we are still learning, I expect this to be updated sometime in the future and for more material to come out.  However, this is a great starting point, a great gift for parents and educators, and something that should be on library shelves.
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A little too dry at times and I had a few minor issues but would recommend if you know absolutely nothing about genderqueer people.
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Excellent for the person wanting to understand gender pronouns and gender identity more in depth, especially non-binary identity. Unfortunately, the author was too verbose in many areas for this to be thoroughly read by the general public, especially those who need more of an introductory level text. I think it would have been better if the content had been streamlined to focus more on the basics, or maybe had a few introductory chapters and then went into more of the details and academics in later chapters. Then, this book would have incredible crossover appeal for young adults, could be used in schools, for business or other institutional sensitivity training, by parents, friends, and anyone else who simply wants to get an understanding of gender identity. A fantastic concept and book, but as written, I'm afraid it simply won't be accessible enough for the people who need it most: teens who are questioning their gender identity and the general public that is clueless about gender identity.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Ultimately, I didn't rate this because I feel like I kept wanting this book to be something it wasn't - not the author's or the book's fault!
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Language evolves and changes; it is a living thing. As such, we've seen a much needed focus on the words used by individuals to assert, describe, and identify themselves. Pronouns matter. But how so and why? This easily digestible prose is earnest, searching, and honest in explaining to readers the how and why as well as the pragmatism of pronouns. An excellent read for anyone looking to get a better handle on how we speak and communicate now.
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This was interesting but a bit too dry for me. I knew it was academic going in but it was not written in a way that is accessible and interesting to all. This is a shame as this book had some really good thing to say about gender and trans issues.
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They/Them/Their by Eris Young is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early September.

Knowing at least 2 people that are openly gender non-conforming, I wanted to learn more beyond my scope of reference of gender queer expression and accommodation, as well as (quite simply) not to assume so much. Luckily, this book is academic, yet encompassing and easy to understand, and inspires awe in the complexity of the human body and all the ways it can be utilized (i.e. two-spirituality). It also explores the need to find interpersonal acceptance, comfort and consistency with whomever you're in a relationship, non-explicit paperwork, services and safe spaces that welcome neutral status (like using the title of Mx), and offers end-of-chapter questions that ask of your current perspective.
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*Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that throughout this review, I will use the terms nonbinary and genderqueer to reference the same community as Young does throughout the text, but that I also realise these terms are not interchangeable and have their own nuances of meaning. This also applies to the use of ‘trans’ as an umbrella term for the community that does not identify as cis.

This book is perfect for those who wish to find out more about the nonbinary community. Young writes in clear prose and provides definitions of relevant key terms at the beginning of each chapter to clarify their meaning. Young’s section on ‘Medicine’ also makes it clear that this book should also be read and act as a guide for medical professionals who treat nonbinary patients and want to create a safer environment, in which they can properly listen to them and understand their needs. While this guide is probably more aimed at cis readers, They/Them/Their is still worth reading by trans and nonbinary people who wish to further educate themselves, as Young provides lots of insight and reaffirmations.

Throughout the book, you get a sheer sense of the size and diversity of the genderqueer community, learning about their past and what the future could have in store.  I found myself learning things I didn’t know, particularly in the chapter, ‘A Global and Historical Perspective’, and this was exciting. Young describes that the natural result of the information age and its proliferation of knowledge is that many nonbinary people can realise they’re not alone, but are part of a larger, global and historical community. And you definitely get this sense of scope and history in Young’s work. I had not realised that the way people think about gender as binary, tied to genitals and chromosomes, has only been a product of social thinking of the last couple of centuries.

One feature I think Young did particularly well was the inclusion of statistics: they are always relevant and thought provoking. Young never lists off statistics without getting you first to think about what they mean, and their implications. For example, the issue of gendered public restrooms is a well-known problem for the trans community, and you first think of the mental toll and physical danger of not having a safe gender-neutral restroom available, but I had never considered the actual medical harms of this issue: UCLA’s Williams Institute found that of 93 trans survey respondents, 54 per cent reported health problems due to avoiding public restrooms, including dehydration, UTIs and kidney problems.

An aspect I appreciated in the book was the inclusion of exercise and discussion questions after each chapter: this was a brilliant way for the reader to reflect on their own knowledge of the nonbinary community, to see if they have any shared experiences and other ways to relate, and to inevitably get readers to start thinking about ways in their life that they can be more thoughtful to the trans and nonbinary people in their life.

While the title makes it clear this book is going to be about the nonbinary community, especially regarding language and use of pronouns, the proud statement of the neutral pronouns ‘They/Them/Their’ on the front cover also reveals the book’s larger celebration of what it means to be nonbinary. Young reiterates throughout the guide that the excuse some people make that some gender-neutral ways of referring to a nonbinary people are ‘grammatically incorrect’ is false and is only a cover to hide one’s disrespect:

“Again, the question is fundamentally one of autonomy, not of grammaticality. Language and pronouns, as tools which can be used to both signal and invalidate a person’s gender identity, are very important to the nonbinary equality movement. The willingness to make a minor change to one’s own language use in order to extend to a genderqueer person the courtesy of using their preferred pronouns, and validation of their identity, is one of respect.”

 They/Them/Their, as well as being a guide, is also a call for social change, which begins first with the need for widespread knowledge and those who are willing to act on this knowledge. In particular, Young calls for an improvement in the experiences of genderqueer people accessing mental health services. Young exposes the double-bind and sheer difficulty nonbinary people face getting the medical and surgical treatment they need, when there is a clear lack of standardised practice and clear lack of recognition that gender is not binary within the trans healthcare system when it comes to genderqueer medical transition. Young describes the lack of knowledge about nonbinary people in the medical community and the need for more accessible information as trans people are often forced to become expert patients, doing a great deal of research before even approaching a doctor. Young also makes it clear which laws need to be reformed in the UK in order for the nonbinary community to be acknowledged and protected (that is, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010).

I often find books like these hard to review because I end up reciting the new things I learned from the book and highlighting the things these books point out that everyone needs to know. I hope this review will suffice as an articulation about why They/Them/Their should be required reading for everyone; I cannot recommend this guide enough.
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A great read. A perfect support for someone adjusting to having they/them/their as a pronoun. I would also recommend this to anyone who wants to be a better ally or is learning how to be an ally. I will definitely be adding this book to my shelves. Thank you for letting me read it.
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Unfortunately, this book is too regionally and temporally specific for me to recommend in the current political climate in Canada. It's a great read with plenty of interesting information, but because there is a lot of content specific to the UK, it would not be a good fit for our store.
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They/Them/Their by Eris Young is a nonfiction guide to nonbinary and genderqueer identities. On the nonfiction accessibility scale from pop-nonfiction to academic works, this is definitely closer to the academic end; it is written for the layperson rather than the academic audience, but it does tend toward the denser side of things. That is not a criticism, mind; I personally found They/Them/Their to be a nice mix of in-depth information combined with a clear and concise writing style, but I can see being thrown off if you were expecting something lighter.


They/Them/Their is broken up into seven main sections, plus a thorough introduction: language, history from a global perspective, community, wider society, mental health, medicine, and the law.

I personally was most interested in the language, history, and community sections; I have an unabashed fascination for linguistics, grammar and the politics of grammar, foreign languages, and the like. Learning a language with a grammatical gender was actually one of the catalysts of my gender-questioning journey and I loved reading about how nonbinary people are trying to carve out a place for themselves in heavily gendered languages.

The medical and legal sections, while interesting, suffered a bit in my opinion because they were necessarily limited to a particular context (the current UK medical and legal system). I think perhaps that’s a spot where the more academic nature of the work was a hindrance, since it focused one one country at one point in time, making those sections the most likely to quickly become outdated.

It might have been better to take more of a general, survey view of those sections and give a broad overview of nonbinary medical and legal status around the world, or even take a thought-exercise approach and look at what would be ideal for nonbinary people in terms of medical treatment and legal recognition and what would need to be done to create such an ideal.

That’s a minor quibble, though, and I’m sure if I were a UK resident I would’ve found them more relevant. Overall, I thought They/Them/Their did a great job of combining a wide-ranging, accessible introduction to nonbinary identities with a more in-depth analysis of certain aspects.

[Blog review scheduled to be posted on 9/13]
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Because the existence of trans & nonbinary people is constantly challenged, most resources are forced to cover the basics and teach cis readers how to respect trans people and their identities. As a result, few of these 101 resources get the chance to take a deeper look into the consequences of enforcing the gender binary on the lives of nonbinary people. In They/Them/Their, the author starts from the same foundation, but soon goes further in exploring the social, legal, and medical challenges faced by nonbinary people.
The book shines in how to tackles myths and misconceptions about nonbinary people. With a look into the historical presence of genderqueer people and their inclusion in LGBT symbols we see that even with the rejection from culture and community, genderqueer and nonbinary people have always existed and that they are not all thin, white, and able bodied.
The book is very academic in tone, which while making the writing denser, shows the urgent need for more research. The rigor with which claims about nonbinary people as a whole is handled gives the book more punch when it challenges incorrect assumptions in the legal and medical treatment of trans people.  Since there is so little research available, I would have liked to have seen more theory included and more information about why the contemporary academic view of gender is the way it is.
With the guiding questions at the end of each chapter and the inclusion of guidelines to help schools and workplaces to create a welcoming environment for trans and nonbinary people this book is a great tool for educators.
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3.5 stars

A very interesting and important read! I feel like if you're interested in learning more about the non binary experience, this book is definitely the place to start. It talks about the struggles of non binary people but it also provides data and historical information. It begins by talking about some basic and general stuff that'll help you ease into educating yourself on this topic.

Although it felt quite dense as it reads as an academic paper, it's still an amazing book!
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This one is all about the non binary: the gender that is not a gender. The idea that gender is a construct. The gender that is somewhere in between. Well researched, it gave me a lot to think about and led me to read further on this topic.
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I completely forgot to review this for Netgalley. Shoot now I am having problems remembering what made it so great. It is a little bit dense, but I love that. I love me some theory. This book covers a lot of different identities and doesn't just cover the white western world, which is a huge huge plus. I especially loved how they went into body dysmorphia, and how not all trans* or non-binary people experience that. Overall, it's a dense but well written super interesting book.
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Very informative and detailed. 

It is clear that the author put in as much research as they possibly could have before writing. They put the upmost care into the information they were imparting on the reader.

I absolutely recommend this for anyone who is attempting to educate themselves on gender non-conforming and non binary identities. This book answers many questions that cisgender people, people who are questioning their gender, or people who want to educate themselves on other gender identities may have.

My only complaint it that in many instances, this book is too dense. I feel as though just as much could have been said with half as many pages. But this is a relatively small complaint.
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They/Them/Their" by Eris Young is a non-fiction book that focuses on non-binary and genderqueer identities and covers the daily and bigger struggles they face. The key-area in focus are: history, wider society, mental health, medicine, and the law.

When discussing these topics, Young goes further than to only share the cold facts and stats. They also interpret and try to explain certain results of studies, so that everyone can understand them.

In addition to cold facts, Young looks at society from a genderqueer point of view and shares this insight. This is very often, some people struggle because one person can't represent a whole community. Instead of simply explaining that this is only their experience, Young sensed this problem and decided to go the extra mile:

They conducted a number of interviews with other genderqueer and non-binary people. Thus, various views are established without having to rely on stats alone. These are opinions and experiences from real people, and I really enjoyed getting an insight from various point of views.

"They/Them/Their" remains a book that mostly focuses on gender in the US and the UK - especially Scotland. This is something you are "warned" about at the beginning of the book, so you are aware that the book is not inclusive of all countries.

Nevertheless, Young still touches on semantics in different countries - especially linguistic differences, pointing out that a gender neutral language is not even possible is most Romance languages (Spanish, Italien, French, German, etc.). Those comparisons are not use to shed more light on those countries but rather to highlight the differences and challenges faces by NB/GQ people around the globe before returning into an UK/US-centric perspective.

There is only one real critic I have: Young states that their goal is to bring these issues closer to a cis-identifying person who wants to learn more but starts below zero. I can't help but wonder, if this book doesn't appear too heavy for them, since it contains a L O T  of information, it could get over-whelming.

Overall, "They/Them/Their" gives a great overview of the diversity of the genderqueer community, the different problems one may face, and it also breaks down stereotypes in always offering different perspectives within the group. Most of the time, it is written in a way that it is easy to read. It has a similar feeling to a well written tumblr post that contains facts: the writing is informal but the information given to you is crucial. I feel that "They/Them/Their" is a great book and there is no better time to read it than now.
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They/Them/Their could not be better timed than RIGHT NOW. Its relevance has never been greater than in contemporary society today, for all of us. This book should be mandatory reading for educators, counselors, medical professionals and pretty much anyone else currently living on this planet we call Earth. This is a significant work for understanding gender identity- which is so much more than a binary box one checks on a form. And even if you feel you *get* gender, get this!
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This was good and informative and it read like a professionally written paper which I had thankfully anticipated so I really liked that (if I hadn't anticipated it, though, I might not have liked reading it too much). I was able to prepare myself for how this would be structured so that really helped my reading experience.
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