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My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,432 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Kate Bornstein brings theory down to Earth and provides a practical guide to living with or without a gender. The workbook includes quizzes and exercises that determine how much of a man or woman you are, and gives you the tools to reach whatever point you desire on the gender continuum. If you don't think you are transgendered when you sit down to read this book, you will ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 18th 1997 by Routledge (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 23, 2016 Kelsey rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, lgbt
I'll start out this review by saying that this book would probably be a good book for someone who feels like they don't fit into either of the two traditional social genders. With that caveat, the book has some serious problems. Two in particular really stand out:

First, the theory of the book was awfully underdeveloped. The author's basic argument is:
1. Not everyone fits neatly into the traditional bi-polar gender theory. (or that the author didn't fit into it), therefore,
2. There is no such thi
Sep 25, 2012 David rated it really liked it
A fairly charming tour through the world of no gender. This book is certainly not a complete or scholarly guide to ideas about gender, instead representing a single point of view told in a casual, magazine-like fashion, but it's rather pleasant point of view. Kate Bornstein, as she describes throughout the book, was born male and eventually transitioned to female and created an identity for herself as a transgender lesbian. Later one, her partner Catherine became David, isolating her from the ...more
Mar 13, 2016 Jamie rated it really liked it
Options: Male or Female
This question on demographic surveys has irritated me for as long as I can remember. Who cares? Why do you need to know? And shouldn't there be more options? How about, "Other"? Reluctantly I choose female. That is who I am biologically and what I look like. But my personality rarely matches the social expectations associated with that biology and appearance.

As a young child, I was very verbally advanced and never shy about expressing myself. I was also conside
Oct 30, 2007 Kelsey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminist newbies
This is so accessible for people who have very limited knowledge of gender dynamics as well as what being genderqueer really means. This was one of the first books I purchased in my college career and it helped to open my eyes. I don't know that I recommend it for the seasoned gender studies student, but for someone exploring themselves and others this is a great, and humorous way to do so.
Dec 11, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book was used as a text for a introductory course in Gender and Sexuality studies by a professor I was a teaching assistant for. I thought it was a great book that was highly accessible for students who were having their first ever experiences with gender studies and also for students who where more advanced in the field. It was thought provoking and fun to read which I think helped keep students engaged. It helped create some great discussion in tutorials.

Some students did seem to get conf
Jun 02, 2015 Grace rated it did not like it
Kind of the worst excesses of 90s rad queer liberal-in-disguise culture. The absolute low point (besides a protracted and explicit account of Bornstein's online BDSM conversations) is a quiz she has where she shows you how privileged or not privileged you are essentially. Bornstein asserts here that bpq people and BDSM enthusiasts are more oppressed than lesbian or gay people. Also she says that people with penises are automatically privileged for having penises (not true! and reflecting ...more
Jackson Radish
Oct 26, 2011 Jackson Radish rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a great book for someone exploring their gender or trying to understand gender. I would definitely recommend it for teens.

One thing, though, I kind of think this book and Bornstein's other books create and support the narrative that cisgender folks use to justify their appropriation of trans identities. This really sucks and pretty much drives me crazy and sucks cause I do actually love Kate Bornstein--I just really hate the way that trans people's bodies and lives get used as a this exa
Danni Green
This was the first gender-related book I ever read, when I was about 18 and had absolutely no consciousness of anything outside the gender binary. It changed my life forever and it remains one of the most important books in my life. I re-read it every couple of years just to make sure it's still a part of me, and I get something new out of it every time. It's also a COMPLETELY different book from the updated "My New Gender Workbook" by the same author, and I highly recommend seeking out the ...more
Dec 03, 2007 Jacken rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone...
Shelves: queer
Exellent introduction to questioning/exploring your own assumptions and ideas about gender (your own/in relation to others/in abstract).. ever so slightly annoying style (i spose i just prefer dry theory or rousing rhetoric to chatty friendlyness), and the theoretical analysis should be supplemented with other ideas, but that's made up for with loads of other goodness in the form of people explaining their own experiences on the margins of gender, and the Kate Bornstein's inclusion of bits of ...more
Salome Wilde
Jan 03, 2013 Salome Wilde rated it really liked it
A superb book of exercises and insights to challenge your gendered brain. Written with wit, insight, theoretical support and political zest, this book fuels rebellion in the best ways. Though a bit too repetitive and leading in places (let us come to our own conclusions), the zeal that inspired it remains a powerful force for degendering the world! Highly recommended, but perhaps wait for the next edition.
Amy P.
Jun 14, 2009 Amy P. rated it it was ok
Let's make this clear, Kate Borenstein is a genius! I know this book should be informative on gender and the construction of gender, but I had a hard time staying engaged with this text. I'm sure if you're new to the whole world of gender this book is a great read. However, this book is fun, but not too serious of a read in my opinion.
Jul 06, 2008 Leilani rated it liked it
This would be a rad book if I was just starting to think about gender, but I was a little bored reading it at this stage of my life. Hence, I am going to bring it to work for the kiddies to read. I hope they'll dig it.
Aug 31, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
Was a while ago that I read this, but it was very interesting at the time. There was a lot of quite clear information and thought-provoking material. It's one of the few books about Genderqueer and Trans issues that presents a viable middle-ground.
My Gender Workbook is an excellent primer to understanding the fluidity of gender identity and expression. Filled with amusing, insightful anecdotes and activities, this book proves Bornstein's point of view over and over again: gender can be and is both complex and fun.
Dec 13, 2009 Korri rated it liked it
Shelves: gender
a chatty, friendly guide to gender although alot of this was familiar to me, having attended a genderqueer/genderfuck-friendly women's university.
Aug 12, 2013 Kennedy rated it really liked it
I've long considered myself "queer," but I'd never really consciously thought about or questioned my gender identity and presentation until I found myself in a long-term relationship with a genderqueer person. I picked up this book not only to better understand and support my partner at the time, but also to investigate my own gender identity and how I defined my personal "queerness" through my gender presentation and identity as well as through my romantic and sexual preferences. I worked ...more
Aug 05, 2015 puck rated it liked it
Shelves: goodthings
it's been a long time since i read this all the way through, but i always find myself misquoting these bits, so i thought i'd stick them here:

"I've always wanted to be included. I've always been tempted to settle myself into one identity and say "Hey, now I'm one of you, now can I spend time with you?" I like companionship. I like hanging out with folks. I just don't want to lock myself into an identity in order to do it, and what I've done is move on when I no longer have any room to shift and
This book changed my life... twice. It is indeed a workbook, asking its reader for time, thought, writing, questioning and doing. I didn’t have to agree with Kate’s theory or politics to get something out of the experience. I only had to be willing to consider her many questions, and see where my own answers took me. And I absolutely adore that Kate is a warm, kind and loving guide on the journey.

(The above is my 2013 review, after reading cover to cover. I read the first half in Fall 2010 and w
Jan 31, 2013 Crab rated it did not like it
Really not into it to be honest, it bugged me because of the tone and some of the underlying assumptions in the questionnaire. In the end I only read to the end of the questionnaire, and skimmed through the rest and kept being met with stuff that just.... bugged me! The book just wasn't for me I guess. I have thought so extensively and stressfully and analytically about gender, and had my fair share of gender angst also, so for as much as I could find good theory I was also overwhelmed with ...more
Jaina Bee
Mar 19, 2010 Jaina Bee rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humans
This is one of the most exciting, helpful, challenging, hilarious, moving, [insert enthusiastic adjective here:] books I've ever read of all time. Golly, I learned so much… about myself, the culture, humanity, and that Kate Bornstein is totally HOTTT. And smart.

Kate is able to wrangle big messy scary ideas, rumors, facts, experiences, gossip, and visions, percolate them in hir magnificent brain, then produce a written interpretation so clear and concise that you can't help but learn, be inspired
C McDaniel
May 12, 2015 C McDaniel rated it it was amazing
Gosh, seeing this brings back (pleasant) teaching memories.
I first encountered Kate Bornstein in Grad school (for the M.A.); I integrated several of the exercises in this "workbook"--it's a lot more than that--into the daily and participation components of both the Comp and Crit Thinking courses that I taught as a GTA and,then, as a new instructor. It's been updated, of course, but the original is still near and dear, as is much of the rest of Bornstein's work. Pick it up if you're new to this
Jul 27, 2007 Page rated it it was amazing
"Autobiographical theory"! I love that! I love genre hybrids, as anybody who knows me and pays attention to what I read (which, probably, constitutes a crowd of 2, tops) knows that. Anyway, this book blew my mind when I was 18 and I highly suggest it for anybody but especially gender essentialist. I even got this for my mom years ago. Bornstein is an amazing mind - she went to Brown and clearly not in a legacy kind of way - and she makes theory not only digestible but thoroughly entertaining.
Mar 02, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
Half way through this book my truth and hir truth became two valid but opposite truths. There was no reason to continue reading it. 'nuff said I fall into the binary system at the moment.

3 out of 5 because ze has hir opinion and isn't afraid to speak out. I like when someone is challenging me to think outside the box. But I probably will not buy new version because I come from somewhere else than ze.
Sassafras Lowrey
Jul 04, 2014 Sassafras Lowrey rated it it was amazing
MUST READ for anyone exploring gender. I have my first copy of this books with my pencil marked answers to most of the books questions, and exercises. My Gender Workbook truly helped me to discover my own identities way back when I was first exploring gender transgression. When I taught at Portland State University I utilized this book in my course on genderqueer/transgender experience. A classic, must read, and such an important text for the queer/trans/genderqueer cannon
Apr 10, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
By mimicking the format of a self-help book for a twelve-step program, Bornstein slyly challenges society's binary assumptions about gender. Through a series of quizzes, assignments, testimonies, and her own personal story, Bornstein elaborates the metaphoric aspects of gender, linking them to situations, roles, and relationships. We're reading this in my GLBT Lit class before we read Virginia Woolf's Orlando--I think it sets up the fluidity of identity well.
Mar 14, 2011 Claire rated it did not like it
Borstein explains gender by metaphorically traveling with you to another continent of the gender concept completely, leaving you there, and daring you to attempt to find your way back to the way you originally conceptualized gender, if at all possible after the numerous stops and detours along the way. Make sense? Neither does most of her book. But it makes a good point in that gender is performative and dynamic.
Feb 10, 2014 Mirrordance rated it did not like it
I just couldn't find a reason to go on. Couldn't make any sense out of it. If anybody finds this book useful or even funny, they're welcome, I found it quite useless and mostly boring when not irritating.

I must add that I particularly appreciated other two titles from the same author on the same subject. Probably, as it is a workbook it's just that I already had absorbed and digested that part of the study course!
Apr 18, 2012 Kalah rated it it was amazing
Kate Bornstein will crack you wide open, take you on a wild journey of self-discovery through some taboo territories and you'll have a blast in the process. This book will dramatically deepen understanding of your personal gender identity. Great for both shy folks and those of us who are ready to let our freak flags fly.
Feb 03, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
I saw Kate Bornstein speak a few years ago, and I was blown away-- she is awesome! This book is also a great and clever concept. However, I just could not get through it. Full review is here:
Jun 30, 2013 Jennie rated it really liked it
So far, so good... but it just came onto my radar that the updated version of this book is out, so I stopped reading where I was and I intend to pick up and read the recent release. Very accessible book, though - I love Kate Bornstein.
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Kate Bornstein is a Jewish-American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist.
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“We change our attitudes, our careers, our relationships. Even our age changes minute by minute. We change our politics, our moods, and our sexual preferences. We change our outlook, we change our minds, we change our sympathies. Yet when someone changes hir gender, we put hir on some television talk show. Well, here’s what I think: I think we all of us do change our genders. All the time. Maybe it’s not as dramatic as some tabloid headline screaming “She Was A He!” But we do, each of us, change our genders. In response to each interaction we have with a new or different person, we subtly shift the kind of man or woman, boy or girl, or whatever gender we’re being at the moment. We’re usually not the same kind of man or woman with our lover as we are with our boss or a parent. When we’re introduced for the first time to someone we find attractive, we shift into being a different kind of man or woman than we are with our childhood friends. We all change our genders.” 3 likes
“From the moment we take our first breath (and sometimes even before that, what with sonic imaging technology), the cry “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl” ushers us into this world. As we grow into adulthood, everything about us grows and matures as we grow and mature. Everything except gender, that is. We’re supposed to believe that our gender stays exactly the same as the day we were born. Our genders never shift, we’re told. The genders we’re assigned at birth lock us onto a course through which we’ll be expected to become whole, well-rounded, creative, loving people—but only as men or as women. From where I stand, that’s like taking a field of racehorses, hobbling the front legs of half of them and the rear legs of the other half, and expecting them to run a decent race: it doesn’t work. Gender, this thing we’re all seemingly born with, is a major restraint to self-expression.
That doesn’t make sense to me. Why should we be born with such a hobble? Does that make sense to you?”
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