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Monday, June 2, 2014

The Gender Book! Is Out! In the World! NOW!

Two faces smiled down from a large screen in a corner of San Francisco's Center for Sex and Culture. Jay Mays and Robin Mack, two if the three main creators of The Gender Book, had beamed their gleeful mugs across cyberspace to help celebrate the birth of this fine publication. "It's a book!" (That's a gender joke, get it?) The third creator, artist Mel Reiff Hill, stood on the low stage with a microphone, facilitating a Q&A.

"How did this book come to be?"

Mel described how their boyfriend "paid to teach his therapist about gender." After spending his session laying down the basics of this fundamental subject of life, he wished he could've simply handed the doctor a book and say, "Read chapter 6— see ya next week!" But that book on gender did not exist. So he brought this concern to his friends and the friends said, "Let's make one!"

And what a gorgeous book they've made. With it's large, slick, colorful pages and graphic novel design it looks a lot like a children's storybook. The team say they wrote it for the broadest range of ages possible, attempting to keep the language plain and simple. Indeed, this book is so attractive and friendly, I can imagine it crossing many thresholds into spaces that have never before questioned mainstream gender norms.

Attendees sat around the balloon-festooned room at tables covered with crayons and activity pages, munching on snacks segregated by glutenousness. The atmosphere was relaxed and playful—even slightly giddy—catalysing conversations amongst strangers expressing a wide range of genders. I wondered why the room wasn't packed to the brim, though, because I certainly felt like I was witnessing one of the most important moments in cultural history. Mel says the book's release is just the beginning, and now what they want to see is how people USE it. "Don't just put it on a shelf. Read it, give it away, talk about it."

In an OutSmart interview, Jay Mays reports that the Gender Book team will be participating in the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference this June, "to connect with others who also want to ease the burden of trans* folks having to educate their health professionals." Right on!

As a contributor to their wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, I had a stack of Gender Books waiting for me at the merch table. I nearly knocked Mel over in my eagerness to get mine all signed. They grinned calmly as I explained that I was a Priest/ess in a Bay Area coven and as I frothed all about our Beyond the Binary and Trans*/Pagan endeavors in a sort of star-struck way, and then they amiably signed one "To CAYA Coven." I even got a fancy creature in a shimmery outfit to snap this photo of Mel & I. Can you tell how excited I am?!?!?!?!
Gender Scouts unite!