In this week’s episode, Rene sits down with Professor Dr. Lee Airton to talk about Airton’s new book, Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture. Dr. Airton talks about their wish to expand the conversation around the ways gender doesn’t work for people who are transgender, the difference between transgender and transgendered, and that it is okay to make mistakes as we learn to navigate and use new terminology around gender identity. Some highlights below:
- The meaning of gender and how the book aims to explore gender beyond the binary
- Airton––who uses they/them pronouns––chats about language and gender-neutral pronouns. They clarify the difference between transgender and trangendered and explains why many trans-identifying people prefer to use transgender.
- Airton and Rene also discuss the unique challenges that trans and non-binary people face, including the difficulty of navigating public spaces and the very real concern of feeling unsafe while using bathrooms.
- The book includes practical guidelines on how cigendered people can participate in creating gender-friendly spaces and not uphold rigid ideas of gender. This includes using gender-neutral pronouns when requested. Dr Airton makes reminds us that mistakes are natural when using gender-neutral language and explains that we can still be allies by acknowledging and correcting our language when we make those inevitable errors.
Tell us about your experiences writing gender in your books! Are you conscious of gendered language? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Parrotfish, by Ellen Wittlinger: “What I like about Parrotfish is that is shows all different kinds of gender expression throughout the novel––and that reflects life.”
Tomboy Survival Guide, by Ivan Coyote: “I’ve been learning from and listening to Ivan’s stories for 15 years. I strongly recommend Ivan’s books to anyone who wants a first-person story about what it’s like to exist outside those gender expectations.”
Lee Airton, PhD, is assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies in education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. They are a frequent keynote speaker and media commentator and are regularly asked to consult on gender-neutral language and gender diversity issues in relation to media, policy, and education. They founded TheyIsMyPronoun.com, a blog on gender-neutral pronoun usage and user support in 2012 and the No Big Deal Campaign (NBDCampaign.ca) in 2016. Learn more at LeeAirton.com.
Just to add to the question about trans characters in fiction: the main character in the Jinx Ballou series by Dharma Kelleher is a trans woman.
This is the first one: