Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Reader's Diary #1936- Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson: A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns

Tristan, one half of the creative team behind the educational comic A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, identifies himself early on as a cisgender male and acknowledges an important question right up front, "you might be wonder what a cisgender guy has to add to this conversation." Thankfully, the other half, Archie (who identifies as non-binary) is there to field the answer, stating that as the book's intended audience is wide open, including those for whom the very concept of non-binary is new, Tristan was invited to participate.

Like Tristan, I'm not always sure if it's appropriate for me to weigh in such matters, but as the book takes a very open and welcoming tone, I'll go on record that I am fully in support of whatever pronouns a person wishes me to use. I've wrestled with the use of "they/them" not because I wished to deny anyone's identity, but because I've been so accustomed to using it as a plural pronoun that I'm sometimes confused to whom the pronoun is referring. For instance, even after reading this guide, when I read Archie's brief bio at the end that began, "Archie Bongiovanni has been drawing comics for over a decade, which also means that they're a part time server" I immediately went back to the start of the sentence because I thought I'd missed someone's name. This all said, I don't want to be the sort of grammar guy that gets hung up on a typo in a Malala speech nor whom denies an individual the pronoun they identify with simply because I find it momentarily confusing (compare my brief inconvenience of adjusting with a lifetime of being mislabeled and unaccepted). Tristan and Archie do note that there are other gender neutral pronouns (such as "ze/hir") but it seems to me that the majority of non-binary folks have landed on "they/them" and I can adapt. Thankfully, Archie and Tristan are there to help.

The guide is short, at just 60 pages, and intentionally so as they explain that it is meant to be bought and shared like a pamphlet. Still they pack a lot in including explanations as to why pronouns matter, a guide to their usage in writing and conversation, and how to deal with those who resist using them. The art is simple, sketchy, and grayscale, with a lot of comic symbology (frustration tornados, for example); all of which add up to enhance the quick, friendly vibe of the book.

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