A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities
By Mady G and J R Zuckerberg
Reviewed by Adaire Salome-Keating [Editor’s Note: You can follow Adaire’s further adventures on her blog, The Road Lez Traveled]
I was first tasked with this assignment by my dear friend and “Lezbro” (Best Buddy who happens to be Male) Cody.
Cody is a very thoughtful man and likes to pick people to review his various comics for Comic Watch, based on his viewpoint of a solid fit. And he wasn’t wrong.
As a person who identifies as Lesbian, a mother to two kids (one an adult now) who both are on the sexuality/gender spectrum, it has seen us all evolve over the long arc of self-awareness and expression, while learning the appropriate language to use with one another.
That has been the most challenging for me. I’m an older Lesbian, who came out at age 38, when it felt safest to do so. Once I finally owned my Lesbian identity, I couldn’t understand why younger generations were wanting to strip away those labels, inventing new languages, lexicon, and ways of expression that was quantum leaps beyond my own identity pressed deeply to my heart.
My oldest came out when they were around 23. While it wasn’t a surprise in some ways, I truly struggled with learning the right pronouns to use, as well as to find ways to talk about them (in positive ways) to friends and family. They have always been intensely private, and I made many mistakes, still stumbling around quite a bit, seems to be all mothers’ rite-of-passage, wherever your kids are on the spectrum!
This new book “A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities” is such a breath of fresh air to those of us who thought we had our LGBTQ shit sorted out, but really, we are still struggling!
Using the whimsy of loveable and ever-so-enlightened snail “Iggy”, and his ‘Dad’ Bowery, enlighten the other snails about his Queer identifying human friends from a safe distance for the reader. Often if we think “we” are being talked to directly about the “do’s and don’ts” of talking about Queer people, we can become immediately defensive, and shut down before we learn anything.
The colorful and fun illustrations are inviting, simple to follow, and introduce the advanced topics of sexuality and gender identity in ways that a twelve-year-old could easily follow, or a fumbling Parent like me, who needs the language and tools to better speak to my kids, friends, and other people with more respect.
I don’t know if you have ever said “They/ Them? That can’t be used when talking about a person! That isn’t grammatically correct!” or “What’s with Hir/Ze? Back in my day we didn’t have 10,000 special identities…” and you can just barely hear the door of opportunity being slammed shut because you couldn’t get past your own limitations to listen to another person’s preferred pronouns. I have done this and I am appalled.
But rather than staying in a gnarly little shame-spiral, this book offers ways to pull out and through, while learning how to ask politely what their pronouns are, as well as all the nuances of gender expression, and spectrum of sexuality. Roz Chast (Cartoonist, Author, and Mother) offers her insights in the forward, about what resonated with her own family, while the conception of this book. Mady G. and J R Zuckerberg, the authors, share from their personal identities and inspirations. I appreciate the very personal style to this graphic illustrated story. Once again, the reader feels invited to learn, not preached to.
Carefree and poised thoughtfulness went into the design, flow of the layout and introduction to each identity. We are also introduced to a secondary group of non-binary forest beings of the author’s creation to elevate and demonstrate ways in which gender can be expressed and variations of sexuality in context of relationships. You see? It’s not so simple, and yet this Quick and Easy Guide actually brings the reader in gently without graphic illustration that would be unnecessary and inappropriate for younger audiences.
As I was gifted the ability to read this copy as a pdf, I am now convinced I need the printed version so that I might share and enjoy this for years to come!