Saturday, March 5, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Whats the T?


Writer and activist Juno Dawson has revisited her idea of a manual to answer questions for teens about  LGBTQIA+ topics. Dawson also wrote This Book Is Gay, originally under the name James Dawson, now with a revised and updated edition under the name Juno Dawson and with an introduction by David Levithan. This time she has gathered stories from real teens about their experiences, information about the "full spectrum of gender identity," and Soofiya Andry has created humorous illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book. There is a special chapter for parents and caregivers, a chapter on organizations to contact for support, as well as a glossary, references, and a list for further reading.

Juno makes a statement early in the book; "I am not here to sell you a Transgender Package...I don't know why you're reading this book." She mentions several possible reasons including curiosity, support for a transgender friend or family member, seeing the book on display in a store, or because you have questions about your own gender. The explanations and examples she gives in the book are geared to answer the questions of readers, whatever their reasons. 

The first part of the book deals with identity (including gender identity), a brief mention of some trans figures from the past hundred years or so, a look at some scientific studies, and a chart of how genders are identified in various cultures around the world. The second part discusses coming out, problems that are encountered in various aspects of life, medical questions, love and romance, and legal issues. Before each chapter is a profile of someone from the "Transgender Hall of Fame" like Ayla Holdom (UK police force helicopter pilot) and Hanne Gaby Odiele (top fashion model).

This book is for young adults due to the language and topics included, as well as for adults who live or work with young adults. It is written as if the reader is having an open and honest conversation about a difficult topic with someone more knowledgeable. That will probably also be what causes many people to disapprove of the book. As the title of chapter 8 says, "The problem is other people." Like many other books recently, this one will probably garner a lot of criticism and pushback, but perhaps it will have the chance to help some YA readers who are very confused and don't know where to turn for information. 

The book is due for release on June 7, 2022. I read an advance copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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