________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 28 . . . . March 25, 2016


Transphobia: Deal With It and Be a Transcender. (Deal With It).

J. Wallace Skelton. Illustrated by Nick Johnson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-4594-0766-4.

Subject Headings:
Transphobia-Prevention-Juvenile literature.
Transgender people-Identity-Juvenile literature.
Transgenderism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Rob Bittner.

**½ /4



In gym class, the girls' track team is arguing with the coach. "He's not a real girl," one of the sprinters yells. "It's unfair to have him try out for our team when he's stronger and faster." Later, you see a student being blocked from going in the boys' washroom. Two big guys stand shoulder to shoulder in front of the door so he can't get past. They tell him that since he's only dressed like a boy, he has to go somewhere else.

What's going on here?

The "Deal With It" series deals with issues of importance to young people, including homophobia, cyberbullying, racism, and other similar themes, and the newest addition to the series examines transphobia. How do you know what transphobia is? What can be done to help those suffering at the hands of transphobic bullies? How can we work to stop the dissemination of myths about trans people? What do you do if you are trans and need to fill out a form that only has options of male or female? These are the types of questions that author J. Wallace Skelton explores throughout this text (along with illustrations by Nick Johnson).

      Like Homophobia: Deal With It, Transphobia is motivated by current events and the much too common bullying of young trans people by peers and adults alike. Unlike the installment on homophobia, I found this book to be better in the overall execution. Though the layout is still a bit eclectic for my tastes (mixing quizzes, lists of do's and don't's, and mythbusting sections in no particular order), the book on the whole feels more relevant and current. I still question, in part, the quizzes, as I'm not sure a transphobic person would even pick up the book to begin with. So, would an "Am I Transphobic" quiz reach the intended audience? Perhaps if the quizzes were to be used in a classroom setting, they could be of more use.

      That being said, there is a good amount of necessary relevant information within the book. The do's and don't's sections are quite helpful, challenging individuals to question assumptions about gender and sex, stereotypes, and the use of pronouns or chosen names. Skelton also engages with deeper theoretical aspects of sex and gender in accessible ways that will allow curious individuals and trans allies to better understand more than the surface level issues of restroom/locker room use and personal pronouns. The book also highlights just how deep-rooted our obsession with gender binaries is, especially within the North American context on which the text is focused.

      The accompanying illustrations make sure to highlight a diverse array of genders, ethnicities, abilities, and so on. This is important as people with disabilities and people who are not White, tend to be ignored when discussing gender and sex. There is also back matter that points readers to helplines, online and print resources, and also fictional texts featuring trans characters. The book's content is incredibly (and sadly) relevant, and I think that, aside from my notes on the layout, Transphobia: Deal With It is a necessary book for school libraries, classroom collections, and home use. It should be noted that some examples of transphobic language are noted in the book and may offend some young readers who have had traumatic experiences.


Rob Bittner recently graduated from the MA in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia and is now a PhD Candidate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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