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How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are
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How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  38 reviews
'For anyone who's ever wished they had a smart, kind, friend with whom they could calmly and safely discuss gender issues: this most excellent book is that kind of friend'. - Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw


Have you ever questioned your own gender identity? Do you know somebody who is transgender or who identifies as non-binary? Do you ever feel confused when people
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Paperback, 284 pages
Published September 21st 2017 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  151 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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Tyler J Gray
Words do not describe how I have fallen in love with this book! It took me on a journey of reflecting on gender and sexuality, in myself and society. It is accessible and very kind. There are pages that remind you to stop and breathe. To take a break if you need it. Of course you can ignore them if you want but I found that I needed them and was so glad they were there.

I truly believe anyone can get a lot out of this book. Cis, Trans, Non-binary.

There is stuff in here that I wish everyone woul
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Asher
I took a really long time with this book, I wanted to be able to make sure that I paced myself and could really absorb what was being laid out by the authors of How to Understand Your Gender. I am thrilled that a book like this exists. I'm thrilled as a genderqueer/non-binary person, and I am over the moon to see it as a librarian. I feel like this title should be an essential piece of any library collection.

Iantaffi and Barker are both mental health professionals who are trans-identified. They
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K
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
YES! It would have taken me just one day to read, but the book kept imploring me to "slow down!" and reflect on all of the ideas in periodic break pages. I appreciated that the book has an awareness about it around how much of a Gender 101 this will be for those of us who have been thinking about these issues for awhile. The new insights, which are spread out all over the place, are beautifully balanced with narratives from other people on how they experience gender, sex, and sexuality. Also, so ...more
Eli
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literally anyone
Imagine you have two friends who are incredibly knowledgeable about a particular area of life experience. And one day they happen by with a thermos of tea and proceed to sit on your couch and engage you in a remarkable conversation about that area of their expertise. It's both a deep and a far-ranging discussion which confirms some things you've suspected while also challenging your assumptions and toppling your preconceptions in in all sorts of fascinating ways. There are activities. Some of th ...more
Marianthi
This book should be required reading by anyone who breathes. Amazing.
Flavie
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. Let me explain why.
The authors are pretty clear and their language, the terms they use, their style... Everything is super readable and enjoyable. They can make connections with philosophy, language, different cultures, religion, laws, complex concepts and so on in a super accessible way. They're aware of their privileges and successfully managed to create something as more inclusive and intersectional as possible. Throughout the book you'll f
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Logan Hughes
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trans
I found it difficult to find useful resources when I was questioning my gender, and today, when I talk to people who are questioning theirs, I often want to recommend them a useful book to read. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one that is particularly helpful in the journey of a questioning person. Most "understanding gender" books are either memoirs - often helpful by example, but by definition limited in scope - or they're about understanding the academic IDEA of gender, like Kate Bornstein' ...more
Krystal
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could not be more impressed by this incredible #ownvoices resource, which embodies the kind of accountability that I have always envisioned as possible from white folx. These writers begin by acknowledging indigenous elders, crediting their understanding of intersectionality to black feminist trailblazers, Kimberlee Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, and bell hooks, and by the end, they have undoubtedly achieved the goal of writing the book they wish they had while growing up!
Sharon
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a good beginner's guide. In addition to explaining a lot of introductory concepts, it includes frequent reflection points, written activities, and mindfulness reminders. I have some doubts about the ways that cis experiences of gender were incorporated, but both of the authors of the book are trans therapists so I assume it's a reasonable approach.
Fred Langridge
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I zoomed through this in a day. A great resource; I wish it had been around twenty years ago!
Ingrid
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to return this to the library for someone else, or I would have let myself get through this at a much slower pace. It is very practical and useful but also gives an intersectional approach and combines real experiences. I feel like most people could probably use this, whether they are questioning their gender or not. I am really grateful the library had this.
Sarah
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"How to Understand Your Gender" was a really interesting read that gave me a new perspective on gender and intersectionality in regard to gender.

As a cis woman, I'm not necessarily the target demographic and I think this book would be more helpful to non-cis people and their families and friends.

Still, it gave me the opportunity to think more about how I perform gender and how my gender impacts my life, something I see mostly in my interactions at work.
Jim
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The gender binary is toxic.

It should be obvious by now that the gender binary is a total construct. The idea of trying to force these hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine roles and ideologies on people based on biological sex is ludicrous if you think about it.

On top of that, what is masculine and what is feminine is also a construct.

This whole system needs to be deconstructed.

It seems kind of silly. And arbitrary.

Ok, so maybe this stuff has been obvious to a lot of people, but as a straight
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Siobhan
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
How To Understand Your Gender is a guide to gender diversity and living with gender that is aimed at anyone who could be interested in reading it—people questioning their own gender, those who want to read more about gender to support people around them, or anyone who is curious in some way or another about aspects of gender and its diversity in the twenty-first century. The book is a general guide which contains discussions of biology and psychology, practical exercises, definitions of various ...more
Emma
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is great for everyone, whether they are questioning their gender, have a trans or non-binary friend or simply want to learn more. It is written in a friendly and accessible tone by authors who are both academics and trans/non-binary. It is very interactive, if you want it to be, and there are plenty of reminders to breathe and take some time out if the book raises upsetting thoughts and feelings. There are also lots of suggestions for further reading and different resources available- ...more
Lee Reid
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book does not make you question what gender is. It describes gender as some complex biopsychosocial interaction, but does not actually explain what it is. It then shows examples of people living their lives as masculine women and feminine men, but then kind of extremely implies that your gender is how you present??? This book is just hypocritical and I don’t like it. Didn’t answer any of my questions about gender.
Virginia
Excellent introduction to gender seen as not binary. Accessible language. Full of food for thought and pointers to exercises to reflect on one's own experience of gender. Also good to learn more about how to support others who don't fit the norm. I will definitely re-read and recommend this book!
Margot
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
I stopped on the 30th page. This is supposed to be a self help book and to spend 30 pages being told that you have to do everything according to the people who are determining how they are to be treated is a bit much. First off, it's assumed that everyone with gender issues is perfectly right getting an operation and they shouldn't have to go through the typical psychological determination that they might not be together enough to dress appropriately in order to get a trans operation. Frankly, h ...more
Kristine
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
How to Understand Your Gender by Alex Iantaffi & Meg-John Barker is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September.

Iantaffi and Barker are kind and considerate towards readers who may balk, feel overwhelmed, be emotive, resistant, or fully embrace the fluid tenets of gender. They also offer a personal background of being assigned a gender at birth and how it has become a socially reconstructed concept with its definitions elastic and changing dynamically all the time (though conversely hav
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Naomi Ruth
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this from the library, read three pages, and then immediately ordered my own copy. This was the book I had been searching for. It had the information I need and the activities to stop and think and draw and journal a bit. I loved how often the authors reminded the reader to pause and practice self-care. I tend to rush through things unhealthily. It was such a healing book for me to read. I understand myself so much better. I feel understand like I never have before. I have pages bookm ...more
Olivia
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this, will likely be buying it, and whole hardheartedly recommend this to anyone interested in and/or confused by gender. While the authors recognize that the gender binary is seen by many as the standard way to define gender in the US and UK, this book doesn't operate like that is "normal" and everything else is "weird." This is just a basic guide to how gender works (as of the time of writing) that everyone can get something out of. As the authors have backgrounds in therapy, ...more
Jules Bertaut
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, nonfiction
The title pretty much describes what this book is about. It's not exactly a workbook but it's got activities and reflection ideas and stuff. Actually, I think this would be a great book for cis folks to read and do the activities and stuff, because they're generally not forced to think about their gender and stuff the way trans folks are, and doing so would be a good experience for them.

This book nicely covers non-binary stuff and intersectionality and other things that sometimes get left out o
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Joanna Bartlett
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An accessible and useful guide to understanding and exploring gender identity. This is a thoughtful and thorough book, well-written and researched. It blends and balances research and lived experience.

Reading the snippets of other people's experiences regarding their gender identity was affirming and helpful.

I loved the mindful chapter breaks, compassionately reminding the reader to be gentle and kind to themself, to take a breath, to get grounded before continuing on.

This is a lovely book and I
...more
Masen
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing! Written for trans people, by trans authors. I recommend this book to every newly-out trans person, who asks how they can better understand themselves and their experience of gender (or lack thereof). It’s also great for people who are questioning their gender and are at the very beginning of their journey to self-discovery. I think every trans & GNC person should own a copy of this book! It would’ve helped me so much, as a non-binary trans kid. I’m grateful that books like th ...more
Clare
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Accessible and clear. As a therapist - I think this is a great support for anyone exploring issues related to gender. It's intelligently and compassionately written with grounding and regulating activities scattered throughout to help people feeling overwhelmed. As someone who identifies as a cis woman, this book really got me thinking about intersectionality, gender roles and expressions and my own experience of them.
Flavia
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020, 4-stars
This book is a great resource for lots of people in my opinion. Maybe the most useful for people starting to question their gender for the first time.
But also as a tool for people trying to understand their gender journey.

As someone who has thought about their gender for a while and still fitting into their assigned one quite well, I don't really think I was the person this book was written for.
Anyways i still took a few things from it and would very much recommend it.
Sam
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very thought-provoking, the style took a while to get used to but it'll definitely be getting a re-read (with added doing the exercises).

Definitely take it slow (even with the "breath" reminders) but well worth it.
Ruth Todd
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy read, very informative

This book is a great introduction to gender and non-binary identifications. It's an easy read and has exercises to help guide your thoughts.
Jessie B.
Very helpful
Melissa
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the authors, Alex Iantaffi, was kind enough to send me a free copy of the book! I loved it. Full review to come.
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