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Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer, by Lee Airton.

August 26, 2018

Gender: Your Guide

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.  Simon and Schuster, 2018.

Forthcoming October 2018

3 stars

Lee Airton has a PhD and is assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Airton is active as an advocate and consultant on gender issues, particularly on issues of “gender neutral language.”  This book is an extension on that work making “gender friendly” language available to a wider circle of readers.

One of Airton’s goals is to define and clarify terms that trans people use to describe themselves. Some transgender individuals move from the male or female definition that they were assigned at birth into the opposite one.  These are categorized as binary trans persons.  Others, like Airton, refuse both male and female definitions.  They may combine the traits assigned to both women and men in their everyday life or they may choose between at any given time.  Non-transgendered people are referred to with the prefix, cis.

I was pleased to find this book because I live in a retirement community and have little contact with trans people.  Yet as I read the book, I found myself unable to follow what was being said.  Airton’s new gender language was simply too revolutionary.  Airton advocates solving the pronoun problem by using the singular “they” instead of he or she.  It just doesn’t make sense to me to read, “They are [is?] an assistant professor.”  When I tried to write a review of “their” book, I almost gave up.  I cannot converse with or about transgender people, not because I reject them, but because I can not accept their language demands.  Yes, English must adapt to new realities, but we need to come up with something better than “they.”

My experience with this book was probably just the tip of the iceberg.  I want to be sympathetic and supportive. I want to speak the new language in order to help others belong, but I can’t give up my pronouns.  Or least I cannot accept, and expect the rest of society to accept, the solution proposed here.  Perhaps we simply need to accept diversity but that does not mean that everyone must follow new demands to use a illogical language. Changes in a language need to grow out of dialogue with input from all sides.

Trying to read this book has been very educational for me, even though I came away refusing to accept all its guidelines.  Others may find it interesting as well.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 26, 2018 12:56 pm

    I guess its just a first start to try and accommodate people by using language already in existence.

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