A quick & easy guide to They/Them Pronouns

A quick & easy guide to They/Them Pronouns is exactly what it says: an introduction to general-neutral pronouns in comic form. The short graphic novel by Archie Bongiovanni and co-writer Tristan Jimerson is out this week.

It’s right away approachable, with the two talking the reader through this introduction to what may be a new way to use language for some readers. The non-binary Archie uses they/them pronouns, while the cis Tristan uses he/him. They purposefully designed a guide that could be shared or given away, and their two different perspectives combine to cover a greater gamut of audience. Tristan, in particular, as Archie’s friend, has experience learning and explaining the concepts to other people, including in the workplace.

The art is minimal, mostly head or medium shots of the two authors talking, which is suitable for the intended audiences, who are going to concentrate mostly on what they say. The comic format makes it more friendly, with two people sharing their backgrounds and feelings, instead of dry text (which can feel more like a lecture). Plus, jokes as the long-time pals tease each other.

Archie explains how they feel when they are misgendered and why it matters. Tristan plays sidekick, asking questions that allow Archie to elaborate. They also cover how to ask about someone’s pronouns, what to do when the wrong ones are used (depending on situation and context), and (what I found most helpful) substitutes to use for traditional gendered language. There’s also a substantial section on the difficulties of coming out to people for those identifying with alternative pronouns, how those new to the concept may need time and patience, and the need for everyone to meet in the middle while paying attention to advocacy and self-care.

I fear that this won’t be compelling to those who need the most help in learning how to operate in a more complex world than that in which they were raised, but to anyone curious or well-intentioned but unexposed, this is a useful summary. The matter-of-fact approach to talking about “how” instead of “why” or “whether we should” demonstrates their philosophy that this is necessary and will eventually become standard. Charts at the back sum up much of the information for quick reference.

I previously posted some preview pages, explaining the purpose of the book. Here’s a few more. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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