Book Review: Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Because the topic was so meaningful, this review contains more reflection on my own experience and identity than I typically include in my reviews.

I often think I live in multiple words: Real life, the Twitterverse, and the fictional worlds of all the stories I write. In real life, very few people I know truly understand the concept nonbinary. In my bubble of the Twitterverse, I interact with all kinds of writers and artist who use gender neutral pronouns and identify as something other than man or woman. I love the LGBTQ+ community I’ve found online, but I have made little to no effort to seek similar people in real life because I question if I really belong there since I’ve never been in or tried to be in a same-sex relationship.

Non-Binary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity showed me that I am not the only Non-Binary person who has wondered what communities they really belong in. While there was no one memoir where I thought, “this person story is just like mine” many of the stories echoed and validated different aspects of my existence and opened my eyes to how varied the non-binary experience is.

And really, it probably would’ve bothered me if someone’s experience had been almost exactly like mine because part of my identity has always been that I am odd and unique.

Each essay was beautifully written, honest, and engaging. I don’t remember a single moment where I got bored. Even the introduction held my attention.

One of my favorite things about this book was that it included voices from all across the spectrum of nonbinary people.

In my internet bubble, the most visible nonbinary people are like me: white and were assigned female at birth (AFAB). Many, but not all, are middle class or close to it. Me and many of the authors in this book agreed that this is the most visible portion of the non-binary spectrum, but it only represents a small portion of nonbinary people

Non-Binary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity not only included people like, but it also boosted the voices of those who were assigned male at birth (AMAB). It included people of color– Black, Asian, and Latinx authors.

Some essays touched on sexuality, but others didn’t. While many of the authors in this book once identified as butch lesbians, I was happy to see some, who like me, never were attracted to CIS people who shared the same assigned gender. This is one of the things that always makes me question whether or not my identity is valid. However, reading the essays in Non-Binary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity that echoed this experience reminded that my non-binary identity is still valid, and it is not at all related to my sexuality.

Because of the range of experiences encompassed in this book, I think most nonbinary people will be able to see echoes of themselves and their experiences show up in this book.

However, I think it is something I hope is widely read by CIS people, by people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Each narrative is crafted in a way that will show CIS readers what it means to be non-binary.

When I started reading Non-Binary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity, I was almost certain it would be something I could assign for my students to read. However, like most collections of essays, there is too much on the same topic to read in one semester. No matter how good the writing is, a whole book of essays on the same topic always seems to result in my students losing interest before we get to the end, and if I were to assign the book and only read a portion of the essays, they would complain about having spent money on a book we only used part of. The later might not be an issue if I could get them to see the value of the book, so using it isn’t fully out of the equation yet.

No matter who you are, if you want to learn more about what it means to be non-binary, please buy and read this book.

A Baby Shower I’m Not Dreading

Baby Showers are at the top of the list of torturous, anxiety-triggering social obligations I can’t always get out of. However, for the first time maybe ever, I’m actually looking forward to one.

What is different about this one?

Two things:

  1. The parents chose not to find out and reveal the baby’s sex.
  2. It’s a co-ed event.

Very few people understand why I hate showers so much. Women who don’t like showers or who have social anxiety think they understand. They don’t. Social anxiety is definitely part of it, but not more than it is part of things like house warning, weddings, funerals, and birthday parties.

The last time I walked into a baby shower, I literally felt like an alien. I may have been born with a female body, but I have never felt like a woman inside. Online, I call myself non-binary or gender-fluid, but I almost never talk about this with people in the face to face world. Anxiety silences me nine out of ten times I could broach the subject with family and friends.

I’m not going out of my way to hide it. I just can’t talk about it out-loud.

I never feel like i belong at ladies-only events.

Thankfully, this shower isn’t one.

However, there is another reason I’m looking forward to this one: No one knows what the baby’s sex is.

At all the past shower’s I’ve attended, the has mother known, so before the baby is even born, people are forcing gendered stereotypes on them.Girls are pretty,princesses, clad in pink and flowers. Boys are handsome princes, ladies men before they can walk, wearing blue, clothing decorated with tools and trucks. The kid wasn’t even born and was already being told that girls are pretty and fragile like flowers where boys are tough and practical.

It will be refreshing to see what people gush over when they can’t lump the yet-to-be-born child into the girl or boy piles.

This time, when I was shopping, I didn’t feel like I was being subversive or grumpy for going out of my way to find gender neutral baby clothes, or for just buying diapers without even looking at the registry.

I still bought diapers, because babies poop a lot. Every new parent needs diapers.

However, I actually had fun looking at baby clothes. As I scrolled through  Star Trek, Deadpool, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter themed onesies, I laughed. I smiled. I had fun thinking of how the parents would react to opening a shirt inspired by their favorite characters. I was shopping for things the parent’s liked without worrying about gender stereotypes.

Let’s face it, no matter what sex babies are born, they all go boldly with maxim effort in their diapers.

Whether you have a boy or girl, poop is coming!
 

Note: This post is just my opinion about baby showers. I am not saying everyone has to agree with me or hide their baby’s gender. I am not in any way commenting on how people should raise their children.