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Michael A. Becketts

Gender Reading List

(Posted 2023 August)

Gender BooksWhat’s in our to-be-read pile as students head back to school (and as we prepare for the next Unpacking Gender workshop at Chantilly Regional Library on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023)? These five books:

Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression by Iris Gottlieb, Kacen Callender
Gender is an intensely personal facet of humanity. In this book, queer author and artist Iris Gottlieb visually explores gender in all of its complexities, answering questions and providing guidance while also mining history and pop culture for the stories and people who have shaped the conversation on gender.

Informed by Gottlieb's personal experiences, this book demystifies this fluid topic at a critical time. For LGBTQIA+ people, Seeing Gender offers a space for self-exploration, giving comfort, advice, and reassurance in the sometimes confusing process of navigating identity. For allies, this book is an essential tool for understanding and thoughtfully participating in this cultural conversation. Seeing Gender is a must-read for anyone passionate about changing the way we see and talk about gender and sexuality in the twenty-first century.

Gender Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture by Lee Airton, Ph.D.
The days of two genders—male, female; boy, girl; blue, pink—are over, if they ever existed at all. Gender is now a global conversation, one that is constantly evolving. More people than ever before are openly living their lives as transgender men or women, and many transgender people are coming out as neither men nor women, instead living outside of the binary. 
We all want to do and say the right things in relation to gender diversity—whether at a job interview, at back-to-school night, and during family dinners. But where to start?

From the differences among gender identity, gender expression, and sex, to the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to thinking about your own participation in gender, Gender: Your Guide serves as an inviting tour of a complicated area. Professor and gender diversity advocate Lee Airton explains how gender works in everyday life; how to use accurate terminology to refer to transgender, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming individuals; and how to ask when you aren’t sure what to do or say. It provides information needed to talk confidently and compassionately about gender diversity, whether in an ordinary conversation or as an advocate.

Like gender, being gender-friendly is a process. Gender: Your Guide is an important tool for creating a world more supportive of people of all genders.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community by Laura Erickson-Scroth
Transgender and gender non-conforming people have many ways of understanding their identities.  While trans people share many common experiences, there is immense diversity within trans communities. An estimated 700,000 transgendered individuals live in this country, but there's been a notable lack of organized information for this sizable group.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for transgender people, with each chapter written by transgender or genderqueer authors. Inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic and powerful compendium written for and by women, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is widely accessible to the transgender population, providing information in an inclusive and respectful way and representing the collective knowledge base of dozens of experts. Each chapter takes the reader through an important transgender issue, including race, religion, employment, medical and surgical transition, mental health topics, relationships, sexuality, parenthood, and arts and culture. 

Anonymous quotes and testimonials from transgender people who have been surveyed about their experiences are woven throughout, adding personal voices to every page, adding viewpoints from throughout the community to create a strong and pioneering book. It is a welcoming place for transgender and gender-questioning people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-date information on transgender life.

Body Language: Writers on Identity, Physicality, and Making Space for Ourselves edited by Nicole Chung and Matt Ortile
Bodies are serious, irreverent, sexy, fragile, strong, political, and inseparable from our experiences and identities. Pushing the dialogue and confronting monolithic myths, this collection of essays tackles topics like weight, disability, desire, fertility, illness, and race.

Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in Body Language affirm and challenge the personal and political conversations around human bodies from the perspectives of 30 diverse writers who speak their truths about their bodies and identities, refusing to submit to others’ expectations about how their bodies should look, function, and behave.

The Pride Guide by Jo Langford
The Pride Guide is written explicitly for the almost 10% of teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or any of the unique identities that are not heterosexual/cisgendered. It explores sex, dating, relationships, puberty, and both physical and online safety in one resource. The issue is not whether queer youth will get sex education; it is how and where they will gather information and if it will be applicable, unreliable, or exploitative. This guide provides protection against the unfortunate consequences that sometimes accompany growing up with an alternative gender or identity. 

For LGBTQ+ youth, this resource discusses the unique issues queer youth face regarding what puberty looks like (particularly for trans youth), dating skills and violence, activism, personal safety, and pride. Parents and other supportive adults motivated to educate themselves and interested in gaining tools and skills around making these conversations less uncomfortable and more effective will benefit, too. The go-to resource for making informed decisions, The Pride Guide is indispensable for teens, parents, educators, and others hoping to support the safe journey of LGBTQ+ teens on their journey of discovery.

This posting is part of the Department of Family Services' Community Corner where you’ll find timely information about upcoming events, parenting and wellness tips, programs and services, and more! Share these helpful posts with your friends and family. Don't miss out on future postings! Sign up today!

For media inquiries, contact Department of Family Services' Public Information Officer Amy Carlini by email, office phone 703-324-7758 or mobile phone 571-355-6672.

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