Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely” as Want to Read:
My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,639 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Gender isn't just about "male" or "female" anymore - if you have any doubts, just turn on your television. RuPaul is as familiar as tomato ketchup with national radio and television shows, and transgendered folk are as common to talk-shows as screaming and yelling. But if the popularization of gender bending is revealing that "male" and "female" aren't enough, where are we ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 18th 1997 by Routledge (first published 1997)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Gender Workbook, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Michael Sometimes they're imported with the book data, sometimes they're transcribed from the cover by GR librarians, sometimes they're GR librarian's own wor…moreSometimes they're imported with the book data, sometimes they're transcribed from the cover by GR librarians, sometimes they're GR librarian's own words.

Checking the edition change log, I see that the book description (as of the time I'm writing this) is an automated import.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,639 ratings  ·  71 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely
Feb 13, 2011 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
May 24, 2013 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
Sep 25, 2012 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 le ...more
Jun 02, 2015 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 interna ...more
Jan 31, 2013 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 unde ...more
Oct 30, 2007 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. ...more
Charlie Hailey
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I oscillated between 3 and 4 stars just because this book is definitely full of some of the harmful, liberal queer theory that just doesn’t reach the heart of gender/sexuality/oppression. I can’t help but flinch when I read the words “heterosexual lesbian” and I just can’t get behind that as anything but harmful. That being said, this book absolutely helped me develop insights into the nature of gender and also brought me a lot closer to understanding the purpose and arguments of queer theory. B ...more
Aug 03, 2013 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 dilig ...more
Oct 26, 2011 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 orig ...more
Aug 31, 2011 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. ...more
As a (young) academic, I'm often unable to read "intro to gender" books without ranting to the disembodied author about oversimplification and glibness. This book does not have those faults--rather, it is an honest, sometimes intense, but always funny and compassionate look at how we are gendered and what we can do about it. This old edition does have some hiccups when read now, particularly the sections on the freedoms of cyberspace--the online arena hasn't quite retained the utopian vibe Borns ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I bought this second hand and did not know there was a newer edition. I probably would have given the newer edition a better rating as I'm sure some of my issues with this one were likely resolved.

As it is, I really found this book helpful! I can't remember a time that I felt sure about my gender or comfortable with claiming one or the other. Even in childhood, I wasn't too sure about what I was assigned and I wasn't too sure about the other gender available either. This book helped m
Read in college, for leisure. A lot of other books and blogs I was reading referenced My Gender Workbook, so I was excited to finally get my hands on a copy. Sadly, it's not really what it says on the tin. Rather than presenting different options and asking difficult interesting questions, My Gender Workbook has a strong agenda, all the exercises push you towards that agenda, and there's not a lot of other interesting stuff, especially if you're already familiar with the (101-level) arguments. I ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this a while ago. I would love to say that I was "hip" to all of this from the get go, but I wasn't. I think this is good for people who think that sex=gender* but are willing to be accepting of others not conforming to that idea. I would say come in ready to learn, it just may help you become a more accepting human being. Also, understand that you may be challenged in your beliefs/habits- I found out that although I am fairly typical (I don't get to say that too often) cis-woman, much of ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There is so much to think about when you first come out to yourself and this book helped me so much! It made the journey to discovering my gender-identity exciting and fun. I think this workbook is helpful for anyone questioning their gender and for anyone who isn't, because you learn a lot about yourself and the way that gender is constructed in the process. ...more
Jess d'Artagnan
This is a thought provoking read. When it comes to determining gender identity, Bornstein's workbook seems biased toward an end of gender rather than an exploration of gender as identity. They subtly and not so subtly lead the reader toward agender/nonbinary as the "best" gender. I didn't agree with all the points, but it did make me think which is what I wanted from the book. ...more
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Need to reread every few years and think this through. So many great ideas on how to look at gender and gender expression.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-to-2020
This is an engaging introduction to / guided reflection on gender. I didn't agree with every argument and model in the book. That being said, I appreciated the panoramic overview of gender and found the exercises to be very helpful in practical terms. I went in as a cis woman with a lot of half-buried discomfort around my gender and came out the other end having found myself to be a transmasculine nonbinary person. It was a healing experience for me. ...more
Jun 23, 2008 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
Nov 21, 2012 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
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender, favorites
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
Jaina Bee
Mar 19, 2009 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
May 12, 2015 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
Dec 03, 2007 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 hi ...more
Jul 27, 2007 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. ...more
Mar 14, 2011 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.
Apr 10, 2011 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. ...more
Jun 29, 2012 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!
Sep 16, 2012 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.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary
  • Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)
  • The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
  • Taking On the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era
  • Wrong Planet - Searching for your Tribe
  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
  • Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
  • O Human Star, Volume One
  • Pantomime (Micah Grey, #1)
  • Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6)
  • Close to Spider Man
  • Tomboy Survival Guide
  • Raised by the Church:Growing up in New York City's Catholic Orphanages
  • The Home: A Memoir of Growing Up in an Orphanage
  • Why Read?
  • There are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • 100 Animals: An Adult Coloring Book with Lions, Elephants, Owls, Horses, Dogs, Cats, and Many More!
See similar books…
Kate Bornstein is a Jewish-American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist.

Related Articles

  Discover lots of new and upcoming nonfiction reads this spring with our author interviews, articles, and book lists!   Interviews with...
4 likes · 3 comments
“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.” 7 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?”
More quotes…