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Beyond the Gender Binary

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Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.


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Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.

30 review for Beyond the Gender Binary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shruti

    "The best way to eliminate a group is to demonize them, such that their disappearance is seen as an act of justice, not discrimination." Wow. Alok Vaid-Menon, you legend. I absolutely love ALOK. I found their instagram profile a couple of months ago because of Jameela Jamil's "I Weigh" page and have been following them ever since. I listened to their episode on the I Weigh podcast and was in awe of them. The ideas and misconceptions that they spoke about and the passion with which they conveyed "The best way to eliminate a group is to demonize them, such that their disappearance is seen as an act of justice, not discrimination." Wow. Alok Vaid-Menon, you legend. I absolutely love ALOK. I found their instagram profile a couple of months ago because of Jameela Jamil's "I Weigh" page and have been following them ever since. I listened to their episode on the I Weigh podcast and was in awe of them. The ideas and misconceptions that they spoke about and the passion with which they conveyed their thoughts was just remarkable. Until 2020, my knowledge about the non-binary community was limited to the fact that they used they/them pronouns. That was all I knew about them. Being a feminist-in-progress, everytime that I've found myself in an argument with an anti-feminist I have always been prepared with facts and logic to counter every sexist, factually incorrect point they put across. The only reason I've been able to do so is because I have read up on articles and books related to women's rights and women's issues passionately and educated myself. When it comes to the gender non-conforming community though, I have sadly not done the same. Recently, after JKR tweeted transphobic stuff (yet again!!), I started to read up a lot about the trans community and tried to educate myself on the issues they faced by following trans activists on Instagram and YouTube. A few days later, I got into an argument with a transphobe (TERF) and unlike the times when I'd been able to confidently argue with someone who made no sense, this time I hesitated a little because I was afraid I didn't have all my facts right. And that's when I realized that there was so much more I needed to educate myself about when it came to the gender non-conforming community. "What part of yourself did you have to destroy in order to survive in this world?" In Beyond the Gender Binary, ALOK brilliantly clarifies the misconceptions people have when it comes to the gender non-conforming community. They talk about their own experience while growing up—how they were confused about their own gender and sexual identity and how society forced them to deny and hide how they truly felt. This book is so well-written and concise, reading it was such a great and informative experience. ALOK mentions several statements that bigots use as justifications for why they believe anyone who challenges the gender binary is abnormal, and I think this book is going to be my go-to for the next time I find myself arguing with one. "Gender is a story, not just a word." All the stars! Highly recommended!

  2. 4 out of 5

    l.

    1. It would be absurd to define racism as “a system of power which exists to create conflict and division, not to celebrate creativity and diversity”, right? One’s immediate response would be, why did you gloss the historical factors? Why did you gloss colonialism and slavery? And yet people (including Alok, though they are far from the only offender) do exactly this re: gender. Gender is a hierarchy formed to naturalize the sex-based oppression of women, which also has the effect of oppressing 1. It would be absurd to define racism as “a system of power which exists to create conflict and division, not to celebrate creativity and diversity”, right? One’s immediate response would be, why did you gloss the historical factors? Why did you gloss colonialism and slavery? And yet people (including Alok, though they are far from the only offender) do exactly this re: gender. Gender is a hierarchy formed to naturalize the sex-based oppression of women, which also has the effect of oppressing gender non-conforming individuals of both sexes. The fact that we find the same issues of sex based oppression, homophobia and transphobia in societies with ‘third gender identities’ (nb: in some cases, these forces were critical to the creation of these identities in the first place), speaks to the fact that simply having more recognized gender identities is not at the root of the problem. Anyway, this abstracted 'the gender binary exists because people hate creativity' approach leads to Alok's claim that a person being prejudiced against gender non-conforming people is a reflection of that person's own insecurities. I find this a fairly irritating concept. It may be true in some cases, but it's certainly not true in all of them. Sometimes prejudice is intentional and calculated. 2. “The most lethal part of the body is not the fist but the eye. What people see, and how people see it has everything to do with power.” The use of the word ‘power’ in statements like this makes you think that there is some type of analysis here, but there really isn’t. I can look at someone, make false or negative assumptions as to their life, being etc, and they are not affected by virtue of the thoughts in my head. What matters is the actions which follow - do I dismiss, demean, harass, abuse, ignore etc. And the power that these actions have will be a direct reflection of my power in society. Am I a famous writer who can share bigoted rhetoric on a wide platform? Am I a landlord who can deny applicants based on their gender non-conformity? Being able to have that impact on someone’s life, able to define them, deny them rights, deny them services etc is what power is about... Simply looking at them and thinking thoughts in my head as an inherent exercise of power? No. I can think negative thoughts about Jeff Bezos all day but something tells me he'll be fine. Catharine MacKinnon: "Having power means, among other things, that when someone says, ‘This is how it is,’ it is taken as being that way. [...] Speaking socially, the beliefs of the powerful become proof, in part because the world actually arranges itself to affirm what the powerful want to see.” 3. It’s odd how Alok continually speaks about legislation targeting gender non-conforming people when the legislation (as far as I’m aware) is all targeting trans people. While there’s certainly overlap re: gnc and trans people, and also overlap re: the people who are affected by some of these laws, it is fundamentally about limiting the rights of trans people and that should be said. 4. "Gender neutral language like people who give birth, not women who give birth." Big sigh. Why raise this issue specifically if you're not going to talk about why it is so contentious. Of course, we need to respect people's identities, and it is critical for health-care providers to know about trans men and have respect for them in order for trans men to access proper care, but there are reasons why we frame abortion and pregnancy and birth control as women's issues and not gender-neutral issues. Gender neutrality can be a boon to women, and it can also erase our historical and continuing oppression. What is required is nuance and respect when writing on these issues. 5. "The idea that humans have a binary sex is a recent idea from the 1700s." Thomas Laqueur wrote Making Sex in the 1990s. Please read Katharine Park and Helen King and all the other scholars who have explained the problems in his work. The idea of binary sex existed in Ancient Greece, in pre-1700s Europe. And it is absurd to say that scientists believed that only white people had binary sexes.... which scientists? And why does the opinion on these scientists matter? And to what effect? Even if we accept the women are failed men model was the only model anyone had heard of till the 1700s - this model is founded in misogyny. And men still knew that only women could reproduce and so controlled us and our bodies. This belief that white people invented sex-based oppression as part of colonialism is a claim so ludicrous, so ahistorical, so divorced from women’s history and mired in noble savage-ism that I don’t know where to begin in response. 6. "For a long time, and even sometimes today, women were incorrectly seen as innately prone to hysteria." This sounds like the author believes the known misogynistic nonsense condition hysteria actually exists and that not what hysteria actually 'was' because yes, of course, it was only about women. 7. "A wealthy white woman has a fundamentally different experience of womanhood than a working class woman of colour. A man born in Paris, France has a different experience than a man born in Paris, Texas." Women across the world, across time have been subjected to sex-based oppression, ergo have created a movement to deal with women's subjugation. Do the man in Paris France and the man in Paris Texas suffer from historical born-in-a-place-called-Paris oppression? For that matter, does anyone say that rich people of colour have different experiences than poor people of colour ergo anti-racist activism is meaningless? No. We know why this only happens with feminism and feminism alone: because sex based oppression is not taken seriously, because no one wants women to have consciousness of the global reality of sex-based oppression. I wouldn't describe my experiences as a woman as being fundamentally different from white women. I wouldn't describe my mother's experiences growing up in the third world as fundamentally different than my own. While some women might depending on their circumstances, it is not on Alok, someone who does not identify as a woman to say that fundamentally, this is the case. I believe Alok has said that feminism that doesn’t center trans and nonbinary and intersex people of colour isn’t feminism... people of colour, not women of colour. If feminism isn’t a movement for women, then why call it feminism? Scrap it and call the new movement anti-patriarchy. I believe Alok had the same issue with the Women's March; Alok would prefer it be called the Anti-Misogyny March. I guess this is where we are at.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    A short read, with a wonderful deconstruction of gender expectations in Western society. Alok Vaid-Menon explores the gender preconceptions and expectations that we’re surrounded by, and how these are restricting, limiting, and harmful. Not everyone can or wants to conform to the expected binary, and like many others, Alok suffered years of self-hatred and shame trying to, consequently, it took years for them to come to a place of peace and acceptance with themselves. This small book asks us to A short read, with a wonderful deconstruction of gender expectations in Western society. Alok Vaid-Menon explores the gender preconceptions and expectations that we’re surrounded by, and how these are restricting, limiting, and harmful. Not everyone can or wants to conform to the expected binary, and like many others, Alok suffered years of self-hatred and shame trying to, consequently, it took years for them to come to a place of peace and acceptance with themselves. This small book asks us to really consider our assumptions about gender, and open ourselves to a more expansive definition of this aspect of being human.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siobhán

    "I learned about gender through shame." (19) I think we can all agree with this statement. In this really really short pocket guide, Alok both takes us through their childhood as well as the realisations they made as an adult. Myths and stereotypes or prejudices are debunked in a very comprehensive and almost simplistic way. It's beautiful to be told that you can be whoever you want to be. This is both a suitable guide to ease yourself into the topic as well as a way to bolster your argumentation "I learned about gender through shame." (19) I think we can all agree with this statement. In this really really short pocket guide, Alok both takes us through their childhood as well as the realisations they made as an adult. Myths and stereotypes or prejudices are debunked in a very comprehensive and almost simplistic way. It's beautiful to be told that you can be whoever you want to be. This is both a suitable guide to ease yourself into the topic as well as a way to bolster your argumentation in case of conflict. Of course, this is not meant to be used in term papers, but it is a great overview and very empowering. Parts of it are also almost prophetic: Alok writes about intersectionality and the specific issues Black people or PoC experience. He also ventures into the area of two-spiritedness for example and debunks the myth that non-binary people are a new phenomenon. Looking back at the statement above, it is true: I learned about gender when I was continuously told throughout my childhood especially that I wasn't behaving "ladylike" (by my mother, by my grandparents, by teachers and childhood friends). I didn't understand why I shouldn't be allowed to climb trees or built a birdhouse with my grandpa (my brother was allowed to, I was sent away to help my gran making dinner). I was made fun of in school, not behaving like a girl supposedly should. I hated what adolescence did to my body, I hated the restrictions, I hated how much more limited my surroundings had become. I hated experiencing sexual harassment because of my body, because of my curves, because of my weight. And I am a priviledged, cis white woman. And it took me decades to realise all the reasons why I was uncomfortable with certain clothes, certain situations, certain parts of my body. And yet I have also erased a part of me (at least partly) in order to end the conflict, being made fun of, to somewhat fit in. Alok shows us that it takes a lot of energy and bravery to be who you really are, but it is worth it. 5 Stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight

    This short and sweet book not only tackles myths and misconceptions about trans people and the trans experience, but the experience that Alok shares highlights both the brutality that is forced on trans people and the resilience in that experience. While my experience as white and not femme are different than Alok's, I particularly saw myself in the way they speak on shame (the learning and internalizing of it, but also the releasing). This beautiful, colorful, compassionate book is wonderful fo This short and sweet book not only tackles myths and misconceptions about trans people and the trans experience, but the experience that Alok shares highlights both the brutality that is forced on trans people and the resilience in that experience. While my experience as white and not femme are different than Alok's, I particularly saw myself in the way they speak on shame (the learning and internalizing of it, but also the releasing). This beautiful, colorful, compassionate book is wonderful for beginners and can be a light for those who are not.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    As the mom of a non-binary child this book answered so many questions I still had. It's so good.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisen

    So smart, so insightful. Please please read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Review of advanced reader copy (ARC.) As with everything Vaid-Menon writes, this is accessible and compelling. I was surprised, though, that resources were used to make this little pocket book that pushes back against the gender binary without even a single photo of the always lovely Vaid-Menon in its pages, nor any photos or art of other genderfluid and/or gender non-conforming people. The cover is great! It would be so nice, though, to have more visuals in this book that help challenge deep-seat Review of advanced reader copy (ARC.) As with everything Vaid-Menon writes, this is accessible and compelling. I was surprised, though, that resources were used to make this little pocket book that pushes back against the gender binary without even a single photo of the always lovely Vaid-Menon in its pages, nor any photos or art of other genderfluid and/or gender non-conforming people. The cover is great! It would be so nice, though, to have more visuals in this book that help challenge deep-seated ideas readers may have about the gender binary. I've been extremely gender non-conforming my whole life and it was only thanks to Alok Vaid-Menon's Instagram feed that I confronted some of my own gender biases around facial hair in femmes. We've all been gender shamed and it's affected how we view the world, and the more we normalize a rainbow of folx eschewing the gender binary, the better it'll be for all of us!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Molly Hanson

    Buy this this book. Read it. Break the binary. Ask folx about their preferred pronouns. Share it with your friends and family. Expand your mind. Support LGBTQIA+ youth. #pride

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    I listened to this in one go, on audiobook, and already want to reread it. I love and adore Alok's instagram account, and their words so so much. I loved their personal anecdotes, their stories of growing up -- that is where their writing is the strongest. Where this book falls a little flat for me is how ambitious it is. The author seems to pull historical connections sometimes almost from the air. So I'd be like, wait, what was that about hysteria? The teeth, the best part of this is Alok, wit I listened to this in one go, on audiobook, and already want to reread it. I love and adore Alok's instagram account, and their words so so much. I loved their personal anecdotes, their stories of growing up -- that is where their writing is the strongest. Where this book falls a little flat for me is how ambitious it is. The author seems to pull historical connections sometimes almost from the air. So I'd be like, wait, what was that about hysteria? The teeth, the best part of this is Alok, without a doubt, but the other connections they made throughout the work didn't always land for me. I wish it'd been longer, or maybe shorter? Hard to say. I want to read it again and pull it apart and see what I think.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Cavar

    Excellent and intimate introduction to trans and nonbinary experiences. Great for people new to the topic and / or looking for quick rebuttals to common transphobic rhetorics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    A perfect and necessary book! My only complaint is I wish it was ten times longer! ♥️

  13. 4 out of 5

    DFZ

    This cute pocket-sized book packs a real emotional punch in its few pages. Alok writes movingly about the very real struggle that nonbinary and gender non-conforming people face. They address some common ways that people push back against people and identities that don’t conform to a binary and offer some helpful rebuttals. This book is good for both allies and nonbinary folks like us. I read an ARC of this and am looking forward to buying the published version.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I like the idea of this book and the fact that it’s getting into the hands of people who need and deserve love and support. I bought two ally copies in addition to this one. I think if I were just coming to understand the idea of “beyond the binary,” or needing to hear the messages for the first time, this would be more engaging. As someone who’s been thinking about this for a while now, the messages feel a bit oversimplified. However, that’s sort of the point and I bought the book not so much f I like the idea of this book and the fact that it’s getting into the hands of people who need and deserve love and support. I bought two ally copies in addition to this one. I think if I were just coming to understand the idea of “beyond the binary,” or needing to hear the messages for the first time, this would be more engaging. As someone who’s been thinking about this for a while now, the messages feel a bit oversimplified. However, that’s sort of the point and I bought the book not so much for my awareness as for solidarity. If you haven’t explored this topic In detail yet, this book is a good primer and I encourage you to read it and/or follow Alok on social media. If you feel offended by the idea or your mind feels otherwise closed to the idea of something beyond the gender binary, I similarly encourage you to read this little book. It could help you start to open a door. Or at least to start questioning why you feel the need to police the identities of your fellow humans.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Read this book yesterday! Such an incredibly well written account of what gender non-binary and gender non-conforming people deal with every day. It was so eye-opening and honest. Just because you don't understand doesn't give you the right to spew hatred, vitriol, harm, or take away rights. What the world needs right now is compassion, empathy, and kindness!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Xia

    Excellent, valuable little book. Beautiful writing and incisive ideas.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate Buechler

    "Pain does not have to be visible to be real, and violence does not have to be physical to be serious." (p. 42)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rainey

    An absolute must-read for understanding and uplifting trans and non-binary voices.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nina Keller

    I highly recommend this hour long audio narration by the author. They share their personal experience and provide linguistic, historical, and intersectional context for gender bullying and crime.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ray Lister

    “Imagine how beautiful it would be if the way we navigated the world was about creative expression, not conforming to arbitrary norms.” This book is concise and acts as a great gut check for people who feel battered and confused by the anti-trans rhetoric that the media landscape is awash in. Necessary!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Mason

    On my quest to learn about those different from me, I found Alok on social media. They are such a beautiful human and their book, while small, is packed full of information!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    Amazing amazing amazing. Great resource that I want to buy everyone for Christmas. So many great points. Thank you Alok! If I ever meet you in person, I will faint.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy // The Bookish Unicorn

    Really good short discussion on gender and rebuttals for common "arguments" against trans and gender nonconforming people.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amber Loyacano

    Super consumable and filled with information. A great combination.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid B

    I have been following Alok on Instagram for about two years now while I’ve been taking my own journey growing into my nonbinary self and my gender non-conformity. The first thing that drew me to them is their proudly queer presentation that made me reconsider the notion of fashion being ‘boring.’ The second thing is the way they can wonderfully articulate feelings, history, ideas, in both spoken and written language. The publishing of “Beyond The Binary” was utmostly exciting to me. I finally go I have been following Alok on Instagram for about two years now while I’ve been taking my own journey growing into my nonbinary self and my gender non-conformity. The first thing that drew me to them is their proudly queer presentation that made me reconsider the notion of fashion being ‘boring.’ The second thing is the way they can wonderfully articulate feelings, history, ideas, in both spoken and written language. The publishing of “Beyond The Binary” was utmostly exciting to me. I finally got the book and read it through a few settings. Alok’s exemplary way of language while maintaining its accessibility shined very brightly in this book. This book is for anyone that is cisgender allies willing to learn and look inward among themselves, queer folks trying to understand their trans and nonbinary siblings better, and our young/questioning queers that are still on the path to figure out their own identity. I found that as a nonbinary person who has been on this journey and knows the language and experience of a nonbinary person, this book was not for me. I gave this a 4/5 because I picked up this book without knowing it was akin to a gender non-conformity 101 class. That doesn’t devalue the book at all, in fact I think it’s extremely valuable!!! But the issue for me is there was nothing in the summary/advertisement stating this (as per my awareness). Even so, I really do think everyone and their grandma needs to get this book. If every cis person picked up this book and read it with an open mind, I truly think the word would be a better place for us gender non-conforming folks. Also, if anyone is in the unfortunate position of having to defend their identity, this book has useful talking points for you. Despite my criticism, I still had a few very special moments with this book, especially in the first half! Alok’s little tidbits of their youth and growing up was interesting, warm, and showed me experiences that were not my own(after all, not every gender non-conforming person has the same experiences). I also really felt the passage about shame, what is does to people, what it does to us. I felt my heart hurt from the shame so many experience and the shame that I realized I was still holding onto. I think there is not enough talk about the personal shame that comes from going against the gender binary, a drop of internal poison lingering from the binary world. I am excited for whatever next written work Alok produces in the future. This piece already reveals their values of compassion and love and provides valuable insights on emotional and internal pain caused by the gender binary.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aishwarya Singh

    I was lucky to have the audible version of the book which is narrated by Alok. You can feel the emotion behind every word, the delight and the disappointment. Coming to the book, it is small but mighty as Alok said about the books published by pocket change collective. The central argument as I understand is that gender binary, the idea that there are two distinct and opposite genders, is a normative idea not a "natural" reality. An idea which has been made to be "universally true" through power I was lucky to have the audible version of the book which is narrated by Alok. You can feel the emotion behind every word, the delight and the disappointment. Coming to the book, it is small but mighty as Alok said about the books published by pocket change collective. The central argument as I understand is that gender binary, the idea that there are two distinct and opposite genders, is a normative idea not a "natural" reality. An idea which has been made to be "universally true" through power and control. The gender non-conforming people are punished for challenging this idea and making the gender confirming people question their own gender/gender presentation. They present effective arguments against the typical public discourse against gender non-conforming/transgender people. One of the oft repeated statements I have heard is you can't deny biology or sex is real, even if gender can be self-determined. Alok argues that science is a part of human culture and doesn't exist in a cultural vacuum. The answers scientists get are based on the questions they ask. So the idea that there are two binary sexes is a culturally produced idea, just like how coloured races were thought to be inferior to the white race. The basis for the same was the size of the skull, which now has been debunked as scientific evidence of intellectual development. Likewise, the presence of intersex people, mismatch between chromosomes and genitalia, mismatch between the body and secondary sexual characteristics question the idea of binary sex. This is not to say that the body is not real. The body exits, but how it is interpreted by science and society is cultural. In 1700s male and female were not opposite sexes. Females were understood to be underdeveloped males and in 19th century, the white race was thought to be superior because only the white "bodies" were able to represent the distinct sexes. The differences between sexes are maximized and the similarities glossed over. Importantly, this begets the question, why is sex/gender a category to distinguish between humans? It becomes a category of organising social order because it's linked to the exercise of power in a heteronormative system. If you remove the category of sex and gender, you remove the foundation of the system. I hope Alok follows up this book with a deeper analysis of the ideas/arguments presented in this book. When I say ideas/arguments, I don't mean to say that the existence of gender non-conforming people is up for debate rather to enrich the discourse affirming their existence. More power to you!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Teen. All thoughts are my own. I learned a lot. Not just about the gender binary, but about myself... "Like if you remove our clothing, our makeup, and our pronouns, underneath the surface we are just mean and women playing dress up." Have you ever read a book that not only educates you, but also makes you more aware of yourself? This book. It definitely made me aware of the way that my own mind works in terms of the traditional binary standards. I've be I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Teen. All thoughts are my own. I learned a lot. Not just about the gender binary, but about myself... "Like if you remove our clothing, our makeup, and our pronouns, underneath the surface we are just mean and women playing dress up." Have you ever read a book that not only educates you, but also makes you more aware of yourself? This book. It definitely made me aware of the way that my own mind works in terms of the traditional binary standards. I've been very conscious about not assigning specific toys and clothes and activities to fit the roles of gender when dealing with my child, but while reading this I noticed other things that I do that can be potentially harmful. Vaid-Menon made me more aware of how the world is so used to doing things that are considered "socially acceptable" that they don't take into consideration the way in which they are ostracizing other individuals specifically those that identify outside of the gender binary. There were a lot of "ah ha" moments for me in this book and a lot of moments in which I realized that there is no way that I could ever imagine the amount of pain that non-gender conforming individuals experience on a daily basis. To have to work within the confines of a world that doesn't allow you to be yourself is taxing on the soul and of a person. One of the parts that really resonated with was when Vaid-Menon discusses how people have a willingness to tolerate those that identify as non-gender conforming, but can't even do something as simple as defend non-gender conforming people in public. Vaid-Menon uses references to identify how identities have existed outside the binary for centuries and how it's nothing that is new. Overall, I just feel like this book was too short, but it was so powerful. I also wish that resources for further research were included. I would have really enjoyed that as well. I can't wait to check out the rest of the books in this series that Penguin launched.

  28. 5 out of 5

    ❄Elsa Frost❄

    This is a pretty good book, but I have a few critiques: For the depth that Vaid-Menon seeks to engage with, this book is just way too short. In order to critique the gender binary thoroughly, more depth is required. My eBook copy I requested was 46 pages long. Only 46. This is way too short for a book that seeks to dismantle the gender binary. It’s only a start to the conversation, a discourse that requires all people to participate, whether they are trans or not. As a book called, “Beyond the Gen This is a pretty good book, but I have a few critiques: For the depth that Vaid-Menon seeks to engage with, this book is just way too short. In order to critique the gender binary thoroughly, more depth is required. My eBook copy I requested was 46 pages long. Only 46. This is way too short for a book that seeks to dismantle the gender binary. It’s only a start to the conversation, a discourse that requires all people to participate, whether they are trans or not. As a book called, “Beyond the Gender Binary”, I was sorely disappointed that it spent little to no time addressing non-binary people or trans people as a whole. Instead it steadily used the term “gender non-conforming” and was repeatedly vague about who it was supposed to be addressing in the term “gender non-conforming.” Which is an issue because it creates confusion and begs the question, who is being addressed in this book? GNC non-binary people? GNC trans binary (trans men and trans women) people? GNC cis people? All of the above? So, why is it called “Beyond the Gender Binary” and not “Beyond Gender Norms”? The title feels like it is attempting to appeal to non-binary audiences, but the inside tries to be comfortable for cis audiences to read instead of confronting that non-binary peoples exist, we are here. Because of this vagueness, it is pretty surface-level. This is a good ice-breaker for attempting to dive into this important topic. Unfortunately, although it appears to be in-depth, when you’ve been studying and analyzing these very things, you see that it is pretty surface-level. The parts that made most sense in this entire book were when Vaid-Menon finally brought up questions and answers about the gender binary in the last 1/4 of the book, although it feels woefully unrelated to the first 3/4 of the book because of the first 3/4 focusing on GNC. Instead of deconstructing the gender binary and sex binary, looking beyond them into gender identity, and considering intersectional perspectives, it instead focuses on gender expression and breaking the gender norms. Fortunately, this is just the beginning of an era of gender discourse and the start of publishers finally opening their doors to publishing important topics such as this. I believe that Vaid-Menon, especially with the way they discuss these topics, wants to invite the deep. I sincerely hope they are able to explore this depth in future writings, and I look forward to reading them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dana Sweeney

    A brief, brisk explanation / exploration of what it means to live and think about gender outside of the binary. This chapbook — part of the “Pocket Change” series, and therefore intended to be a short treatise — is thorough and good, but leaves Vaid-Menon little room for their work or words to breathe. The first half is a compact, evocative portrait of their own life experience and how it has been shaped by prescribed constraints of gender. The second half is a rapid sprint through counter-argum A brief, brisk explanation / exploration of what it means to live and think about gender outside of the binary. This chapbook — part of the “Pocket Change” series, and therefore intended to be a short treatise — is thorough and good, but leaves Vaid-Menon little room for their work or words to breathe. The first half is a compact, evocative portrait of their own life experience and how it has been shaped by prescribed constraints of gender. The second half is a rapid sprint through counter-arguments to common objections people voice about non-binary people when feeling threatened or insecure. It’s still worth reading, but be prepared for it to zoom past. This is probably a 3.5 star review for me, but I’m rounding up because 1) I adore Vaid-Menon’s work and 2) the arguably too-fast pace of this book is due to constraints outside of their control, and there’s a lot of good stuff here even under those circumstances. Vaid-Menon, as an artist and as a thinker, has had more influence on my understanding of self and world than just about anybody. As far as I am concerned, they are one of the most brilliant American creators at work today. For folks who want to check out their work, I’d encourage you to follow them on Insta (@alokvmenon) and to start your reading not here, but with their stunning poetry chapbook “Femme in Public,” which I read years ago and still think about on a daily basis.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    Alok Vaid-Menon breaks down everything you could ever want to know about the term “gender binary” in Beyond the Gender Binary. They explain about the history of binary humans and the use of non-binary terminology. This term and idea goes back thousands of years. They also break down every myth and argument that people bring up regarding “gender binary” humans. Vaid-Menon does all of this in an easy and sometimes funny manner. Beyond is a very quick read, but with a wealth of information. They ma Alok Vaid-Menon breaks down everything you could ever want to know about the term “gender binary” in Beyond the Gender Binary. They explain about the history of binary humans and the use of non-binary terminology. This term and idea goes back thousands of years. They also break down every myth and argument that people bring up regarding “gender binary” humans. Vaid-Menon does all of this in an easy and sometimes funny manner. Beyond is a very quick read, but with a wealth of information. They manage to cover such a broad range of information in such a short period that when I finished with the book, I thought I could teach a class. In today’s world it is important to know each other and Vaid-Menon gives us an opportunity to understand gender binary and all of the terms it encompasses. A must read. A huge thank you to Alok Vaid-Menon and the Pocket Change Collective for producing high quality and needed LGBTQIA+ information and reading material. I would also love to give a shout-out to the SAILS Library network for carrying this book, otherwise I would have never been able to read it. I got this book from my library. I love my local library and you should check out yours too. Request LGBTQ+ books and they will stock them! #ebooksforall

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