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Beyond the Gender Binary

(Pocket Change Collective)

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,487 ratings  ·  558 reviews
Beyond the Gender Binary, spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.
Paperback, 64 pages
Published June 2nd 2020 by Penguin Workshop
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Calciferocious In the book? There's an excellent portrait of them surrounded by flowers on the back flap of the book jacket.…moreIn the book? There's an excellent portrait of them surrounded by flowers on the back flap of the book jacket.(less)

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1. It would be absurd to define racism as “a system of power which exists to create conflict and division, not to celebrate creativity and diversity”, right? One’s immediate response would be, why did you gloss the historical factors? Why did you gloss colonialism and slavery? And yet people (including Alok, though they are far from the only offender) do exactly this re: gender. Gender is a hierarchy formed to naturalize the sex-based oppression of women, which also has the effect of oppressing ...more
"The best way to eliminate a group is to demonize them, such that their disappearance is seen as an act of justice, not discrimination."

Wow. Alok Vaid-Menon, you legend.

I absolutely love ALOK. I found their instagram profile a couple of months ago because of Jameela Jamil's "I Weigh" page and have been following them ever since. I listened to their episode on the I Weigh podcast and was in awe of them. The ideas and misconceptions that they spoke about and the passion with which they conveyed
I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Teen. All thoughts are my own.

I learned a lot. Not just about the gender binary, but about myself...

"Like if you remove our clothing, our makeup, and our pronouns, underneath the surface we are just mean and women playing dress up."

Have you ever read a book that not only educates you, but also makes you more aware of yourself? This book. It definitely made me aware of the way that my own mind works in terms of the traditional binary standards. I've be
A short read, with a wonderful deconstruction of gender expectations in Western society. Alok Vaid-Menon explores the gender preconceptions and expectations that we’re surrounded by, and how these are restricting, limiting, and harmful. Not everyone can or wants to conform to the expected binary, and like many others, Alok suffered years of self-hatred and shame trying to, consequently, it took years for them to come to a place of peace and acceptance with themselves. This small book asks us to ...more
❄Elsa Frost❄
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt
This is a pretty good book, but I have a few critiques:

For the depth that Vaid-Menon seeks to engage with, this book is just way too short. In order to critique the gender binary thoroughly, more depth is required. My eBook copy I requested was 46 pages long. Only 46. This is way too short for a book that seeks to dismantle the gender binary. It’s only a start to the conversation, a discourse that requires all people to participate, whether they are trans or not.

As a book called, “Beyond the Gen
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I learned about gender through shame." (19)

I think we can all agree with this statement. In this really really short pocket guide, Alok both takes us through their childhood as well as the realisations they made as an adult. Myths and stereotypes or prejudices are debunked in a very comprehensive and almost simplistic way. It's beautiful to be told that you can be whoever you want to be. This is both a suitable guide to ease yourself into the topic as well as a way to bolster your argumentation
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As the mom of a non-binary child this book answered so many questions I still had. It's so good. ...more
Jun 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book to add to the collection of books I’m so thankful exist, and so thankful to get to learn from. “Small but mighty” absolutely!
Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This short and sweet book not only tackles myths and misconceptions about trans people and the trans experience, but the experience that Alok shares highlights both the brutality that is forced on trans people and the resilience in that experience. While my experience as white and not femme are different than Alok's, I particularly saw myself in the way they speak on shame (the learning and internalizing of it, but also the releasing). This beautiful, colorful, compassionate book is wonderful fo ...more
Molly Hanson
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Buy this this book. Read it. Break the binary. Ask folx about their preferred pronouns. Share it with your friends and family. Expand your mind. Support LGBTQIA+ youth. #pride
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want everyone to read this book, so I'm popping my brief review down here to share with you. BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY by LGBTQIA performer, writer, and activist Alok Vaid-Menon is a small yet mighty piece of nonfiction. It released with a few other titles in the Pocket Change Collection, but it was this one that I felt I had a duty to read and spread the word as a nonbinary person. The book is packed with information, a powerful read that cuts through the noise, talking about gender from Alok’ ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book read more like an informational zine than a full book, but for what it was I found it convincing and easy to take in. As such a short book I think it attempted to cover a bit too much with the result of staying surface level until the last quarter which I loved.
It seems to me like the writing is meant for a younger audience or people new-ish to the concept of the gender binary so it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I wish more of Alok’s voice came through! They write and speak so
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So smart, so insightful. Please please read.
Mary (bookstorevibe)
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 ✨

A must-read!
Dec 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to KTReads by: Bookishrealm
This is such an important book and I highly recommend everyone to read it. This is short nonfiction about gender expression and being nonbinary/ gender non-conforming.

I really enjoyed how this book also talked about being a person of color and being nonbinary and that intersection.

While I do think that this is very important I do think that it is mainly for kids to tell them that people who aren't men or women exist, which wasn't really what I was expecting or looking for. I also felt like
Helen Power
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is such a little gem (at only about 60 pages), and I’m glad I picked it up! One thing I love about these kinds of books is how personal they are. Vaid-Menon provides their own perspective and experiences, while giving poignant responses to common misconceptions about gender non-conforming people.
Sophia Alexis Books
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this for my Gender studies class and I recommend giving it a read if you want a quick first-hand look about how society treats the non-binary and trans community as well as the feelings that someone goes through as they come to terms with who they are.

4 stars, and like I said its a super quick and informative read.
Sarah Cavar
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-trans, 2020
Excellent and intimate introduction to trans and nonbinary experiences. Great for people new to the topic and / or looking for quick rebuttals to common transphobic rhetorics.
rachel ☾
a solid introduction to gender non-conformity but simplified & condensed a little too much, imo
Jun 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i need every book in this gobdang collection. since yesterday.
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very affirming book, although short (I realize that is the point). This is very much an introduction to trans and gnc identities and a jumping off point to further reading and understanding. 4.5 stars.
Danny Jones
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading because it’s a short, easy read that very clearly explains why the gender binary is detrimental. I found many of the examples relatable but also learned new things from other examples cited. The book has some great quotes too that could be pulled out and shared.
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this book yesterday! Such an incredibly well written account of what gender non-binary and gender non-conforming people deal with every day. It was so eye-opening and honest.
Just because you don't understand doesn't give you the right to spew hatred, vitriol, harm, or take away rights. What the world needs right now is compassion, empathy, and kindness!
Ray Lister
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Imagine how beautiful it would be if the way we navigated the world was about creative expression, not conforming to arbitrary norms.” This book is concise and acts as a great gut check for people who feel battered and confused by the anti-trans rhetoric that the media landscape is awash in. Necessary!
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I like the idea of this book and the fact that it’s getting into the hands of people who need and deserve love and support. I bought two ally copies in addition to this one. I think if I were just coming to understand the idea of “beyond the binary,” or needing to hear the messages for the first time, this would be more engaging. As someone who’s been thinking about this for a while now, the messages feel a bit oversimplified. However, that’s sort of the point and I bought the book not so much f ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Review of advanced reader copy (ARC.)

As with everything Vaid-Menon writes, this is accessible and compelling.

I was surprised, though, that resources were used to make this little pocket book that pushes back against the gender binary without even a single photo of the always lovely Vaid-Menon in its pages, nor any photos or art of other genderfluid and/or gender non-conforming people. The cover is great! It would be so nice, though, to have more visuals in this book that help challenge deep-seat
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This cute pocket-sized book packs a real emotional punch in its few pages. Alok writes movingly about the very real struggle that nonbinary and gender non-conforming people face. They address some common ways that people push back against people and identities that don’t conform to a binary and offer some helpful rebuttals. This book is good for both allies and nonbinary folks like us.

I read an ARC of this and am looking forward to buying the published version.
Aug 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked this, but wish it were more fleshed out and had references. I understand the books in this series are meant to be short. However, statements like "The idea that humans have a binary sex is a relatively new phenomenon from the 1700s" and "In the nineteenth century, scientists believed that binary sex was only possible in white people" gave me pause. Really? I don't necessarily doubt these statements, but I would love to know what the author is referring to! ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is great to start learning about non-binary people's experiences as well as those of gender nonconforming people! It's a great introduction and it answers some very common questions binary and cis people have, so I think everyone should read it.

I like that it explores the gender spectrum and it reflects on how society is what defines gender. Pretty cool read to be honest.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A perfect and necessary book! My only complaint is I wish it was ten times longer! ♥️
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Alok is a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist. They are the author of Femme in Public (2017) and Beyond the Gender Binary (2020). Learn more at ...more

Other books in the series

Pocket Change Collective (9 books)
  • This Is What I Know About Art
  • Imaginary Borders
  • The New Queer Conscience
  • Concrete Kids
  • Taking on the Plastics Crisis
  • Continuum
  • Pocket Change Collective: Food-Related Stories
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