Oh, what a delightful little book this is. Witty, engaging, and down-to-earth, A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, created by Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg, is the introduction to LGBTQ+ identities we’ve been waiting for. For queer and trans youth, those who know their gender identity and those who are still figuring it out, this guide seeks to answer their questions and validate their feelings. For allies, it’s a window into what it means, and how it feels, to be queer and/or trans, and for everyone else, it’s a great starting point to learning more about these identities. As a queer-identifying person myself, I am sad that there wasn’t anything like this book when I was younger and thrilled that it exists now.
The story begins with a group of curious forest snails. They come across a gathering of queer and transhumans camping in the woods—much different from the humans they’re used to seeing—and are surprised by the snail Iggy, who belongs to one of the humans. Iggy becomes their guide, and our guide, into the wonderful world of queerness, and takes us on a journey through gender identity, sexuality, gender expression, gender dysphoria, and more. Iggy has learned about queer and trans identities by listening to his human, Bowery, a queer educator, and the story shifts back and forth between Iggy’s education-driven narrative and the more personal accounts of queerness discussed around the campfire. A third group, the sproutlings, also play a part in this guide. They are a group of nature-dwelling creatures of all shapes, colors, and sizes, and represent a world in which everyone is free to explore their gender without fear or judgment from others. They are not immune to feelings of confusion or loneliness but are fully supported in their quest to discover who they are and what makes them feel true to themselves. It is a different world from our own, but one that we’re shown is possible.
The concepts within this book are complex, but the chapter format makes them less intimidating and easier to digest, especially for those who may be new to such terms and ideas. Individual segments include coming out, asexuality, gender expression, etc. I’m impressed with the writers’ abilities to tackle them in a way that is easy to understand, yet feels like nothing is left out. For example, one of the most popular ways of describing gender has been as a linear spectrum, with male and female gender binaries sitting at opposite ends of this spectrum, and other identities falling somewhere in between. While this guide acknowledges this view, it also highlights the more inclusive approach to gender as a fluid, nonlinear spectrum that holds space for all identities and allows for plenty of room to explore. The general tone of this guide is thoughtful, clear, and empathetic, with a simplicity that normalizes the queer experience and teaches nonqueer humans how to be respectful allies.
While I typically prefer colorful palettes in the graphic novels that I read, I appreciate that the creators opted for a minimal array of pinks, yellows, and blues. It’s fun, colorful, and pleasing enough to the eye, but doesn’t detract or distract from the information being relayed. All in all, this is a wonderful resource for schools and libraries serving the Teen+ age group. Tweens may also benefit from this guide, although the true meaning of a lot of the concepts discussed may be too difficult for them to fully grasp. If you’re looking to improve your LGBTQ+ collection, or are interested in similar titles, I also recommend A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by the same publisher.
A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities
By Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg
Limerence Press, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Teen and up
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Character Traits: Queer Trans, Agender, Genderqueer, Nonbinary
Creator Highlights: LGBTQIA+ Creator