What pronouns are, why they matter, and how to use them are all questions that you may not know the answer to. That’s okay. Help is on the way in the form of a lovely little book from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press, called A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.
It comes to us from long-time friends Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson. It’s a great handbook for those looking to use pronouns in a more inclusive and welcoming way. It also has wonderful tips for those who use gender neutral pronouns. Basically, it’s got something for everybody.
As a cisgender female, someone who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth–who also happened to grow up in the 1990s–I was not introduced to gender neutral pronouns until college. That’s a long time to exist in the world without considering that there may be other ways of viewing gender expression and identity. In A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns Tristan Jimerson, a cisgender male who uses he/him pronouns, talks to people like me. People who want to do a better job of using gender neutral pronouns but may not always know how to introduce them into our conversations at work, with friends, or elsewhere.
The guide is also highly accessible to those completely new to gender neutral pronouns. Archie Bongiovanni explains what their lived experience has been as someone who identifies as non-binary–someone who does not identify as male or female. All of the book is written in a highly relatable and accessible tone thanks to how Archie and Tristan speak to the reader.
Tristan and Archie are in conversation with us, the reader. They discuss what pronouns are in a way that much more enjoyable than any middle-school English class lesson. Thanks to their expertly dispatched wit, they make understanding gender neutral pronouns easy. Instead of feeling like a passive participant in this conversation, the guide’s manner of writing invites us in.
This guide would have saved me a lot of poor marks in grade school as I struggled to understand sentence structure. “Without context, this is meaningless,” is a phrase I want cross-stitched onto my brain. The way the pair introduces us to why pronoun use is so important, and how we can get it wrong (and why that matters) is ingenious and easily digestible.
When we use visual shortcuts, we run the risk of alienating and hurting our friends, peers or even complete strangers. That’s not something the majority of us want to do. Archie gives the reader a chance to understand what it’s like when people assume your gender; it’s a vital insight into seeing just how harmful and harmful that can be.
Archie tells the reader how mentally exhausting it is to be misgendered. They also let us know that everyone responds to being misgendered differently, something we should all keep in mind. For Archie, it can make them feel alone, isolated, invisible or like they don’t belong in their own body. That’s a lot of weight to put on another person and even if we don’t intend to make others feel that way, that can be the result of us not taking a few easy steps to ensure that we’re using the right pronouns.
Because many of us have never asked another individual what pronouns they use, Archie and Tristian go so far as to provide us with a script. That’s really helpful for people like me who are have social anxiety and can become tripped up by my own words. By providing us with a script, it’s that much easier to institute changes into our conversations.
Later in the book, the pair talk about how to correct mistakes and how to make shared spaces more inclusive. For instance, we can ask our places of employment to institute gender neutral language into documents and have gender neutral restroom signage (which in some states may be the law)!
Archie spends the later part of the book speaking directly to those who use alternative pronouns. It’s a touching and honest conversation about what it’s like to be non-binary in a binary world. It also drives home how important it is for cisgender folk to get involved in doing the work to make spaces inclusive.
After Archie and Tristian give us the knowledge for what gender neutral pronouns are, they discuss how we can start putting our new knowledge into practice. This might involve taking the burden off of others by correcting our friends, family, strangers when they misgender someone. That being said, we shouldn’t assume those around us who use alternative pronouns want us (or need us) to advocate for them. We can avoid these assumptions by having a simple conversation. In fact, that’s really what this entire book is all about.
A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is about taking the time to talk with our friends, family and peers about how we can make the world a little better, safer, and easier for everyone. It’s a short, heartfelt guide that gives us a chance to be better people. It begs to be read, shared, and widely distributed. It’s a great starting point for learning how to treat others with the respect and dignity we all deserve.
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
By Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Illustrated by: Archie Bongiovanni
- Limerence Press |
- 64 pages |
- ISBN 9781620104996 |
- June 2018
- List Price $7.99 (price may vary by retailer)
- Ships on or around June 12, 2018
Andrea Ayres writes about comics, video games, and representation in pop-culture.