REVIEW: How To They/Them by Stuart Getty

The Official Description: A lighthearted primer for parents, teachers, young adults, anyone with a nonbinary person in their life, or those wondering if they/them might be for them, How to They/Them is an irreverent illustrated romp through the history of gender- neutral pronouns and a guide to using them respectfully.

What does “nonbinary” or “gender nonconforming” mean? Why would someone identify that way? How the heck do you use they/them pronouns for just one person? In How to They/Them, genderqueer writer and speaker Stuart Getty skips the soapbox and divisive comment-section wars and takes a warm, human approach to these hot-button questions.

Writing in an approachable voice that pulls no punches, Getty guides readers of all gender identities through subjects ranging from the first known gender-neutral pronoun (“ou” in 1792) to the difference between gender identity and gender expression. Enhanced by infographic illustrations by Brooke Thyng, How to They/Them sheds light on the problem with gender-reveal parties and how to deal with tricky relational terms like “aunt” and “uncle.” Generous and empathetic, Getty reminds us that language, like identities, can evolve.

Just the facts: visual, clear, artistic and important

This book is a wonderful choice for people who want to become better allies, people who are questioning their own pronouns… and just people in general who want to live in a better world. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Stuart Getty has created a wonderful book about They/Them pronouns and all of the bits and pieces that may go with pronouns. Just for transparency, I’m a cisgender woman and don’t really have a pronoun preference. I do, however, always respect the pronouns of others. I work in a Library and we have policies about gender-neutral language so it falls within my wheelhouse.

The author, Stuart Getty is a genderqueer writer and filmmaker. If you’re interested in short docs, they have a great one entitled “they/THEM” and it is available to watch here. The writing is accompanied by illustrations by graphic artist, Brook Thyng. The illustrations are fun and help to keep the topic open and inviting. From conversations I’ve had in my own life, I realize that discussing pronouns can bring out a lot of defensiveness in people… what I love about this book is that it is straight-forward without being at all self-righteous.

“How To They/Them” is a book about pronouns…but it’s also a lot more than that. Stuart shares their personal journey through life in an endearing and authentic way. This is a journey to using they/them pronouns that begins with a label of “tomboy” feeling comfortable.

Stuart’s story is told with humor, facts, history, and fantastic artwork. The text in the book is often short and straightforward, sometimes amusing, and packs a “clarity” punch. I learned a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed that. All kinds of topics are covered in simple and direct ways in this book: sex, gender, gender binary, gender identity, nature vs. nurture, socialization, genetics (to name a few). I hadn’t even thought about some of the issues in this book. For instance, the author points out how early some people begin down the gender path with “gender reveal” parties. I have never liked the idea of them, but I hadn’t thought about how that was the beginning of a new and open soul being put into a box!

As an ally, I learned some useful tips for having conversations about pronouns and other related subjects. My favorite? “Cis” is just the opposite of “trans”! how great is that for a response! And some other great advice, “Weird means growth is happening.” Maybe that’s why it can feel weird for some people to use the pronouns “they/them”… it’s certainly another handy thing for me to have in my toolbox.

This is a wonderful book. It would make a great gift. I think that most people could benefit from reading something like this. It’s joyful and positive and still manages to inform.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of How To They/Them by Stuart Getty from Sasquatch Books via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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