Title: A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
Authors: Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Category: Non-fiction comic (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: Limerence Press/12 June 2018
Archie, a snarky genderqueer artist, is tired of people not understanding gender neutral pronouns. Tristan, a cisgender dude, is looking for an easy way to introduce gender neutral pronouns to his increasingly diverse workplace. The longtime best friends team up in this short and fun comic guide that explains what pronouns are, why they matter, and how to use them. They also include what to do if you make a mistake, and some tips-and-tricks for those who identify outside of the binary to keep themselves safe in this binary-centric world. A quick and easy resource for people who use they/them pronouns, and people who want to learn more!
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. This book has content warnings for depictions of misgendering (not condoned).
As someone who uses they/them pronouns and has to deal with getting misgendered on a regular basis, this guide was incredibly validating and also very thorough. Not only does it give solid examples of how to use they/them pronouns in conversation, but it also addresses why people should use them when they are asked and how it feels if they don’t. Archie and Tristan present two different perspectives — one from someone who uses they/them pronouns and one from someone who doesn’t — that are intricately woven together to form the narrative, and it really works because it is hard to get people to understand this stuff. People argue that it’s “bad grammar” (it’s not) or “unnatural” (nope) or “too hard” (you probably do it every day), and it’s demeaning and exhausting. Tristan’s portion of the narrative shows exactly what being a good ally should look like, and Archie’s portion also shows a variety of methods that they/them pronoun-users can utilize to advocate for themselves.
Additionally, this book is just a delight to read. The text is fantastic, and the illustrations are wonderfully done and a joy to look at. It’s informative and funny, and the comics form does an excellent job of utilizing emotion to get the point across. This book is one of the reasons why I love comics — there are few other forms that can get emotions across like this.
I have two small criticisms. First, I do wish that more people involved with this book besides Archie used they/them pronouns, although I really appreciate how everyone credited for working on this book had their pronouns listed out to make it clear who was working from personal experience and who wasn’t. Second, I don’t actually recommend asking people to say their pronouns in public situations because that is essentially asking someone to out themself, and not everyone is comfortable with that. In many cases, it’s possible that someone will either be forced to come out or forced to misgender themself, and neither of those options are very appealing to us. Dealing with this is a tricky thing, but I think more discussion needs to take place around it.
Aside from those two small things, I adored this! I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is looking for something to hand to those people who insist on misgendering you repeatedly (or insists that “theirs” is not a real word… Yes, I actually got that once) and you want them to knock it off.
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars