Beyond the Gender Binary
Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. In Beyond the Gender Binary, poet, artist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon deconstructs, demystifies, and reimagines the gender binary.Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.

Beyond the Gender Binary Details

TitleBeyond the Gender Binary
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 2nd, 2020
PublisherPenguin Workshop
ISBN-139780593094655
Rating
GenreNonfiction, LGBT, GLBT, Queer, Gender, Feminism

Beyond the Gender Binary Review

  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    A short read, with a wonderful deconstruction of gender expectations in Western society. Alok Vaid-Menon explores the gender preconceptions and expectations that we’re surrounded by, and how these are restricting, limiting, and harmful. Not everyone can or wants to conform to the expected binary, and like many others, Alok suffered years of self-hatred and shame trying to, consequently, it took years for them to come to a place of peace and acceptance with themselves. This small book asks us to A short read, with a wonderful deconstruction of gender expectations in Western society. Alok Vaid-Menon explores the gender preconceptions and expectations that we’re surrounded by, and how these are restricting, limiting, and harmful. Not everyone can or wants to conform to the expected binary, and like many others, Alok suffered years of self-hatred and shame trying to, consequently, it took years for them to come to a place of peace and acceptance with themselves. This small book asks us to really consider our assumptions about gender, and open ourselves to a more expansive definition of this aspect of being human.
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  • Siobhán
    January 1, 1970
    "I learned about gender through shame." (19)I think we can all agree with this statement. In this really really short pocket guide, Alok both takes us through their childhood as well as the realisations they made as an adult. Myths and stereotypes or prejudices are debunked in a very comprehensive and almost simplistic way. It's beautiful to be told that you can be whoever you want to be. This is both a suitable guide to ease yourself into the topic as well as a way to bolster your argumentation "I learned about gender through shame." (19)I think we can all agree with this statement. In this really really short pocket guide, Alok both takes us through their childhood as well as the realisations they made as an adult. Myths and stereotypes or prejudices are debunked in a very comprehensive and almost simplistic way. It's beautiful to be told that you can be whoever you want to be. This is both a suitable guide to ease yourself into the topic as well as a way to bolster your argumentation in case of conflict. Of course, this is not meant to be used in term papers, but it is a great overview and very empowering. Parts of it are also almost prophetic: Alok writes about intersectionality and the specific issues Black people or PoC experience. He also ventures into the area of two-spiritedness for example and debunks the myth that non-binary people are a new phenomenon. Looking back at the statement above, it is true: I learned about gender when I was continuously told throughout my childhood especially that I wasn't behaving "ladylike" (by my mother, by my grandparents, by teachers and childhood friends). I didn't understand why I shouldn't be allowed to climb trees or built a birdhouse with my grandpa (my brother was allowed to, I was sent away to help my gran making dinner). I was made fun of in school, not behaving like a girl supposedly should. I hated what adolescence did to my body, I hated the restrictions, I hated how much more limited my surroundings had become. I hated experiencing sexual harassment because of my body, because of my curves, because of my weight. And I am a priviledged, cis white woman. And it took me decades to realise all the reasons why I was uncomfortable with certain clothes, certain situations, certain parts of my body. And yet I have also erased a part of me (at least partly) in order to end the conflict, being made fun of, to somewhat fit in. Alok shows us that it takes a lot of energy and bravery to be who you really are, but it is worth it. 5 Stars.
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  • Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight
    January 1, 1970
    This short and sweet book not only tackles myths and misconceptions about trans people and the trans experience, but the experience that Alok shares highlights both the brutality that is forced on trans people and the resilience in that experience. While my experience as white and not femme are different than Alok's, I particularly saw myself in the way they speak on shame (the learning and internalizing of it, but also the releasing). This beautiful, colorful, compassionate book is wonderful fo This short and sweet book not only tackles myths and misconceptions about trans people and the trans experience, but the experience that Alok shares highlights both the brutality that is forced on trans people and the resilience in that experience. While my experience as white and not femme are different than Alok's, I particularly saw myself in the way they speak on shame (the learning and internalizing of it, but also the releasing). This beautiful, colorful, compassionate book is wonderful for beginners and can be a light for those who are not.
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  • Molly Hanson
    January 1, 1970
    Buy this this book. Read it. Break the binary. Ask folx about their preferred pronouns. Share it with your friends and family. Expand your mind. Support LGBTQIA+ youth. #pride
  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Review of advanced reader copy (ARC.)As with everything Vaid-Menon writes, this is accessible and compelling.I was surprised, though, that resources were used to make this little pocket book that pushes back against the gender binary without even a single photo of the always lovely Vaid-Menon in its pages, nor any photos or art of other genderfluid and/or gender non-conforming people. The cover is great! It would be so nice, though, to have more visuals in this book that help challenge deep-seat Review of advanced reader copy (ARC.)As with everything Vaid-Menon writes, this is accessible and compelling.I was surprised, though, that resources were used to make this little pocket book that pushes back against the gender binary without even a single photo of the always lovely Vaid-Menon in its pages, nor any photos or art of other genderfluid and/or gender non-conforming people. The cover is great! It would be so nice, though, to have more visuals in this book that help challenge deep-seated ideas readers may have about the gender binary. I've been extremely gender non-conforming my whole life and it was only thanks to Alok Vaid-Menon's Instagram feed that I confronted some of my own gender biases around facial hair in femmes. We've all been gender shamed and it's affected how we view the world, and the more we normalize a rainbow of folx eschewing the gender binary, the better it'll be for all of us!
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  • DFZ
    January 1, 1970
    This cute pocket-sized book packs a real emotional punch in its few pages. Alok writes movingly about the very real struggle that nonbinary and gender non-conforming people face. They address some common ways that people push back against people and identities that don’t conform to a binary and offer some helpful rebuttals. This book is good for both allies and nonbinary folks like us. I read an ARC of this and am looking forward to buying the published version.
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  • Xia
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent, valuable little book. Beautiful writing and incisive ideas.
  • Kate Buechler
    January 1, 1970
    "Pain does not have to be visible to be real, and violence does not have to be physical to be serious." (p. 42)
  • Lizzy // The Bookish Unicorn
    January 1, 1970
    Really good short discussion on gender and rebuttals for common "arguments" against trans and gender nonconforming people.
  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    A perfect and necessary book! My only complaint is I wish it was ten times longer! ♥️
  • Dana Sweeney
    January 1, 1970
    A brief, brisk explanation / exploration of what it means to live and think about gender outside of the binary. This chapbook — part of the “Pocket Change” series, and therefore intended to be a short treatise — is thorough and good, but leaves Vaid-Menon little room for their work or words to breathe. The first half is a compact, evocative portrait of their own life experience and how it has been shaped by prescribed constraints of gender. The second half is a rapid sprint through counter-argum A brief, brisk explanation / exploration of what it means to live and think about gender outside of the binary. This chapbook — part of the “Pocket Change” series, and therefore intended to be a short treatise — is thorough and good, but leaves Vaid-Menon little room for their work or words to breathe. The first half is a compact, evocative portrait of their own life experience and how it has been shaped by prescribed constraints of gender. The second half is a rapid sprint through counter-arguments to common objections people voice about non-binary people when feeling threatened or insecure. It’s still worth reading, but be prepared for it to zoom past. This is probably a 3.5 star review for me, but I’m rounding up because 1) I adore Vaid-Menon’s work and 2) the arguably too-fast pace of this book is due to constraints outside of their control, and there’s a lot of good stuff here even under those circumstances. Vaid-Menon, as an artist and as a thinker, has had more influence on my understanding of self and world than just about anybody. As far as I am concerned, they are one of the most brilliant American creators at work today. For folks who want to check out their work, I’d encourage you to follow them on Insta (@alokvmenon) and to start your reading not here, but with their stunning poetry chapbook “Femme in Public,” which I read years ago and still think about on a daily basis.
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  • Phoebe
    January 1, 1970
    Alok Vaid-Menon breaks down everything you could ever want to know about the term “gender binary” in Beyond the Gender Binary. They explain about the history of binary humans and the use of non-binary terminology. This term and idea goes back thousands of years. They also break down every myth and argument that people bring up regarding “gender binary” humans. Vaid-Menon does all of this in an easy and sometimes funny manner. Beyond is a very quick read, but with a wealth of information. They ma Alok Vaid-Menon breaks down everything you could ever want to know about the term “gender binary” in Beyond the Gender Binary. They explain about the history of binary humans and the use of non-binary terminology. This term and idea goes back thousands of years. They also break down every myth and argument that people bring up regarding “gender binary” humans. Vaid-Menon does all of this in an easy and sometimes funny manner. Beyond is a very quick read, but with a wealth of information. They manage to cover such a broad range of information in such a short period that when I finished with the book, I thought I could teach a class. In today’s world it is important to know each other and Vaid-Menon gives us an opportunity to understand gender binary and all of the terms it encompasses.A must read. A huge thank you to Alok Vaid-Menon and the Pocket Change Collective for producing high quality and needed LGBTQIA+ information and reading material. I would also love to give a shout-out to the SAILS Library network for carrying this book, otherwise I would have never been able to read it.I got this book from my library. I love my local library and you should check out yours too. Request LGBTQ+ books and they will stock them! #ebooksforall
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  • Mumuchee
    January 1, 1970
    This was a beautiful and really interesting and educating book. I follow Alok on social media for about a year, and I was so excited to receive their book, because I think that they are a wonderful person and that it was a bless to be able to educate myself on non-binarity and gender non-conformity. It is really simple to read and understand, accessible to everyone, even people who don't have english as first language (like myself). I was not dissapointed. In the first part, Alok talk about thei This was a beautiful and really interesting and educating book. I follow Alok on social media for about a year, and I was so excited to receive their book, because I think that they are a wonderful person and that it was a bless to be able to educate myself on non-binarity and gender non-conformity. It is really simple to read and understand, accessible to everyone, even people who don't have english as first language (like myself). I was not dissapointed. In the first part, Alok talk about their experience and then there is a part where they answer some question/critics that people can do during a conversation about gender non-binarity. I think this part is really smart because it can both, give answer to people who want to defend non binarity but doesn't have arguments, and also answer the question of the people who are reading the book and still have doubts. I suggest everyone to read it !
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  • Morgan Malatesta
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very quick, but very good read! I'd probably benefit from reading it a few more times to get everything out of it. Vaid-Menon asks the thought-provoking question towards the beginning of their book: "Is it really a choice when you don't get to select the options you are given to begin with?" As a supporter of the trans community, this book helped to point out some of my continuing implicit biases & where I could do better (which is one main reason why I should reread it multiple times) This is a very quick, but very good read! I'd probably benefit from reading it a few more times to get everything out of it. Vaid-Menon asks the thought-provoking question towards the beginning of their book: "Is it really a choice when you don't get to select the options you are given to begin with?" As a supporter of the trans community, this book helped to point out some of my continuing implicit biases & where I could do better (which is one main reason why I should reread it multiple times). The book also called me in to think about how my own gender is fluid: "Gender is a story, not just a word."//"We do not need to be universal to be valid." I'm a big believer in that already, but it's good to have the reminder -- in a published book no less :-) I can imagine that the text is even more powerful, important, and necessary for trans youth who identify more directly with Vaid-Menon's story. I am super happy to support more of this type of work in the future!!
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    The concept is pretty fantastic that this book along with three others are voiced by someone with something to say about the topic-- in this one-- is about the gender binary. It's an uncomplicated, no frills way of explaining straightforward to those who know... and those who don't.The format is basic but I don't know that the covers get the job done to explain what the pocket collectives are actually about, but alas, when you dive in it works. And the last 1/3 of the short work uses a question The concept is pretty fantastic that this book along with three others are voiced by someone with something to say about the topic-- in this one-- is about the gender binary. It's an uncomplicated, no frills way of explaining straightforward to those who know... and those who don't.The format is basic but I don't know that the covers get the job done to explain what the pocket collectives are actually about, but alas, when you dive in it works. And the last 1/3 of the short work uses a question and answer format that also gets to the point and helps anyone better understand the issues related to the gender binary.
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  • Maria Keeps Reading
    January 1, 1970
    A succinct, well-written discussion of the societal construct of the gender binary. This book makes me question what parts of myself I've slowly killed over the years to conform with cultural standards. From the self-reflection I've done so far, I venture to guess that the sacrifices have been great. Not just to conform my gender but my body size, the way I speak, the thoughts I share, the way I parent...the list goes on. An amazing read, especially if you are new (like me) to non-binary and gen A succinct, well-written discussion of the societal construct of the gender binary. This book makes me question what parts of myself I've slowly killed over the years to conform with cultural standards. From the self-reflection I've done so far, I venture to guess that the sacrifices have been great. Not just to conform my gender but my body size, the way I speak, the thoughts I share, the way I parent...the list goes on. An amazing read, especially if you are new (like me) to non-binary and gender non-conforming language and identity. I gained a lot of knowledge from this book - highly recommend.
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  • O.D.S.
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely amazing. Would recommend to anyone who is on their journey of learning about gender non-conformity and unlearning binary ideologies of gender and sex. I found it to be really accessible and educational. As a trans person who has been self educating for a while i can’t say i learned anything new from this book, however i was affirmed and validated in my experiences, and can definitely see how this can be an incredible tool for learning. I stand by my opinion that Alok is amazing and tr Absolutely amazing. Would recommend to anyone who is on their journey of learning about gender non-conformity and unlearning binary ideologies of gender and sex. I found it to be really accessible and educational. As a trans person who has been self educating for a while i can’t say i learned anything new from this book, however i was affirmed and validated in my experiences, and can definitely see how this can be an incredible tool for learning. I stand by my opinion that Alok is amazing and transformative, they have been and continue to be a huge positive influence in my life, and this is a great read. Thanks Alok!
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  • Madi
    January 1, 1970
    "Ideas of gender, sex, race, and citizenship are constantly being redefined. When it comes to gender and sex, definitions are constantly drawn as a means to exclude us. They used to define 'sex' as what was reflected on an individual's birth certificate. Once that was changeable, they made the definition our genitalia. Once we could change those, the definition switched to chromosomes. Now that there is increasing evidence that chromosomes do not always necessarily align with sex, they are sugge "Ideas of gender, sex, race, and citizenship are constantly being redefined. When it comes to gender and sex, definitions are constantly drawn as a means to exclude us. They used to define 'sex' as what was reflected on an individual's birth certificate. Once that was changeable, they made the definition our genitalia. Once we could change those, the definition switched to chromosomes. Now that there is increasing evidence that chromosomes do not always necessarily align with sex, they are suggesting genetic testing. This is not about science- this is about targeted prejudice."
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  • Chyann
    January 1, 1970
    If you've been following Alok's work, this book will be more of a refresher on things they've spoken about before. However, I really appreciate the power packed into the space. It is a great place to start, especially for young allies who want to support the LGBTQIA+ community. I also think it's a really valuable source for any young person who may identify as non-binary and/or gender non-conforming but who also may not have the words or the pieces together yet in figuring out who they are. Can' If you've been following Alok's work, this book will be more of a refresher on things they've spoken about before. However, I really appreciate the power packed into the space. It is a great place to start, especially for young allies who want to support the LGBTQIA+ community. I also think it's a really valuable source for any young person who may identify as non-binary and/or gender non-conforming but who also may not have the words or the pieces together yet in figuring out who they are. Can't wait to add this to my classroom library!
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    Read this book to educate yourself about gender nonconformity. If you’re a parent, read this book, period! Read this book to affirm that how you feel inside and how you want to express that to the world, is just right. The language Alok gives us, and the statements they challenge, really help to frame and bring better understanding to moving beyond the gender binary. I’m so glad this book is here!
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  • Sahir Qureshi
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing glimpse into the life, beauty, and struggles of living as a gender non-conforming person as well as a brilliant dissection and refutation of common arguments against going beyond the gender binary. Opened my eyes to the need as a society we have to being inclusive and celebrating gender expansive identities. I highly encourage everyone to read this and to follow Vaid-Menon and other creators challenging the bounds of gender-normativity.
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  • Aryam Vélez
    January 1, 1970
    "This is not about erasing men and women but rather acknowledging that man and woman are two of many- stars in a constellation that do not compete but amplify one another's shine."A slim but powerful volume, filled with insight and compassion, accentuated by Alok's beautiful and engaging prose. "Imagine how beautiful it would be if the way we navigated the world was about creative expression, not conforming to arbitrary norms."
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  • Ann-Marie Dearing
    January 1, 1970
    After listening to ALOK speak on an episode of Jameela Jamil’s ‘iweigh’ podcast, I was really inspired to buy their book. I’m so glad that I did! This book is eloquent, rational, and allows the reader to confront some hard truths and ponder some difficult questions. As a gender non-conforming person, ALOK has written a wonderful book from a perspective that is, sadly, rarely heard. I am so grateful to them for writing this book and I look forward to reading more of their work!
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  • Carla Fdez
    January 1, 1970
    Alok is just so, so eloquent. They writes about their lived experience from such an ernest and honest place. It is seriously a joy to read anything they write (so sign up for their newsletter and follow them on social media)! These Pocket Change Collective books were written for teenagers, but honestly I recommend folks of all ages to read this one. And if you have teenagers in your life, gift them this book.
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  • Kaylee Cooper
    January 1, 1970
    Short but powerful read that makes you stop and think, whether you're just starting to learn about gender diversity or if you're a long time ally. Alok gives you something tangible to question, a depth and clarity of feeling that touches everyone and everyone. This should be required reading starting in middle school.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic book. Alok spends the first half discussing his personal experiences and the second half addressing the issues in society and how to get past them. My favorite quote from the book summarizes the essence of the book perfectly, “Gender is a story, not just a word.”This book is appropriate for all ages and people from all backgrounds.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    ALOK (they/them) is a writer, performer, speaker, and fashion icon! I found myself highlighting almost every phrase in their book tbh. Their book is part of the Pocket Change Collective. The #PocketChangeCollective are a really great collection of reads. Each book is short, but loaded with introspective personal stories and important conversations that connect to larger themes/issues.
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  • Thabs
    January 1, 1970
    What I really appreciate is how Vaid-Menon continuously reiterates that the need to define a clear-cut gender binary is more about power than trying to restore the natural "order of things". The book delivers some hard-hitting points but continues to maintain a non-preachy and non-accusatory tone. It is a marvellous piece of work that should be required reading in all schools, the world over.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Alok helps us imagine a future where we no longer have to ask "What part of yourself did you have to destroy in order to survive in this world?" I was absolutely moved to tears reading this kind, affirming book, and I hope it makes its way into the hands of many young people.
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  • Haley Drolet
    January 1, 1970
    “What part of yourself did you have to destroy in order to survive in this world?” (p. 62). I couldn't put this book down and read it in one sitting! Alok Vaid-Menon uses accessible yet powerful language to invite us to think for ourselves, beyond ourselves, and beyond the gender binary.
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