cover image He/She/They: How We Talk About Gender and Why It Matters

He/She/They: How We Talk About Gender and Why It Matters

Schuyler Bailar. Hachette Go, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-0-306-83187-4

Transgender activist and former Harvard University swimmer Bailar (Obie Is Man Enough) offers a smart and accessible discussion of gender and sexuality, adapted from hundreds of speeches on trans inclusion he has given across the country over the past four years. Bailar, the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any NCAA Division I men’s college sport, writes that he did not intend to become a transgender educator, but when his high school asked him to give a speech about transgender inclusion, the experience helped him realize that what young transgender people really need are public figures who empathize with them and inspire hope. Combining memoir and reportage, Bailar addresses fundamental issues such as why pronouns are important, why being transgender is not a choice, and how transgender healthcare can save trans people’s lives. He also touches on more complex topics such as how trans men navigate toxic masculinity and how race affects one’s experience of being transgender. Explaining that state governments have introduced record-breaking numbers of anti-transgender legislation in the past three years, he encourages readers to speak out about transgender rights and educate people about what it means to be trans. Written for both a trans and a general readership, Bailar’s account is lucid and accessible. It’s a solid introduction to why trans rights matter. (Oct.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review mistakenly used a term that some in the trans community find offensive.