Book Review: Transphobia by j wallace skelton, illustrated by Nick Johnson

Title: Transphobia: Deal with it and be a gender transcender
Author: j wallace skelton, illustrated by Nick Johnson
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.
Published: 1st January, 2017
ISBN: 9781459407664

Who do you think you are? Part of identity is how people experience their gender. Transphobia is intolerance of any part of the range of gender identity. This accessible, illustrated book offers information, quizzes, comics and true-to-life scenarios to help kids better understand gender identity and determine what they can do to identify and counter transphobia in their schools, homes and communities. Considered from the viewpoint of gender challengers, gender enforcers and witnesses, transphobic behavior is identified, examined and put into a context that kids can use to understand and accept themselves and others for whatever gender they are — even if that's no gender at all!

Transphobia is a book written and illustrated for children (the language suggests older children and young adults) which looks at how our actions can - by choice or design - be transphobic. It could be read by young people independently, but it does lend itself to a more structured setting, such as a youth group or classroom, or even a book parents and children could read together.

The book follows a similar format to the workbooks that are used in 'social studies' lessons in the UK. It's vibrant, with lots of discussion activities, and whilst there is a fair bit of text, it's broken up with illustrations and presented in different ways throughout the 32 pages.

Now, this all seems good to an adult, but having worked through these kinds of books with UK high school students (particularly those aged 14-19), I know from experience that they don't always engage effectively with this format.

Given the time restrictions on teaching, it is unlikely that as a curriculum topic, this would be given more than an hour or two, and it's a topic that requires more thinking/free discussion away from the examples in the book. Therefore, it's best used as a resource to be dipped into, as there are discussion activities that would work with students from around the age of 10 to 19 with some core information that is relevant to all.

There are references to Canadian legislation and statistics at the bottom of some pages (the book was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council), but this is a great resource for educators in any English-speaking setting. Finding the relevant laws would make for another interesting activity for students/young people reading this outside of Canada.

The content is excellent, and is likely to inspire some positive discussion amongst young people who are not LGBTQIA and haven't had cause to consider how their behaviour/language impacts on others. It's also affirming for LGBTQIA students and offers some excellent guidance for everyone on how to deal with their own and other people's passive and aggressive non-binary/transphobia.

As someone with 18 years' experience as a teacher/lecturer, I am happy to recommend this book, in particular as an educational resource for teachers, youth group leaders and parents.

Received through NetGalley.


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