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review 2017-02-20 00:00
Transphobia: Deal with it and be a gender transcender (Lorimer Deal With It)
Transphobia: Deal with it and be a gende... Transphobia: Deal with it and be a gender transcender (Lorimer Deal With It) - j wallace skelton I chose to read Transphobia: Deal with It and be a Gender Transcender because I am in the process of overcoming my own transphobia and figured a kids book that explained things super simply would be a good place to start. I stand up for Trans rights because I know that being transphobic is wrong. I know that it doesn't matter what gender a person is. I know it, and yet part of me still has trouble accepting it.

Transphobia is a 32 page book for Canadian children that deals both with how to deal with transphobia both as an outsider and as someone who is trans. It gives tips for educating yourself and people around you for people who are not trans, but wanting to know more about it. It has sections designed to help kids who are trans make their needs known.

I really liked the "Dear Conflict Counselor" and "Dear Dr. Shrink Wrapped" sections. I think Wallace did a good job in keeping the questions simple and on a level kids can understand. And the answers are very clear cut. At the same time, though, they're questions even adults might think (at least a variation of) so it is good for adults to read too!

The Transphobia Myths section covered all the common myths that I've heard and gave rebuttals for them.

The Quiz section had potential, but it felt a little off for kids. It was aimed specifically at kids who are questioning their gender, and asking them how they would react to various situations. The reactions were labeled with 'put up' 'speak up' or 'flare up' but there was no explanation as to why the kids should choose one or the other. (I can think of some adults who wouldn't know why, so I definitely get concerned about kids comprehension of it.)

Side note: There was one illustration in this section (referencing trans being a new thing) that (to me) looked like it was referring to Shakespeare's characters on stage. I was a bit confused by that because I didn't think that playing a role on stage (because girls didn't traditionally act back then) made someone considered trans.

I really liked the Choice of... section. It probably had the greatest impact on me, just because it put how to deal with things so easily.

There were things I wish they would have went into a little bit more detail on for kids. For example, one of the dos and don't section says "don't speak up on behalf of a targeted group you aren't a part of" - and that's good advice, but maybe explain to kids why they shouldn't do that.

Overall, it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping it would be, but I think it's a great starter book for kids who need to learn about Transphobia.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration.
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review 2016-02-21 20:48
A Solitary Man
A Solitary Man - Aisling Mancy,Shira Anthony

TW: Transphobia, extensive discussion of violence against children including

sexual exploitation, rape, neglect, and forced drug addiction

(spoiler show)

, human trafficking

 

3.5 stars

 

A Hispanic MC! Whoop!

 

A Hispanic MC who isn't a stereotypical vato! Double whoop!

 

This was my first read from either of these authors and overall, I liked it. The investigation was the main plot, which helped hide the fact that this was yet another instalove story with the MCs. It was well-detailed and didn't try to do that annoying thing of hiding the villain from the authorities while making it super obvious to the readers

except for perhaps Faison. It took a little too long for Chance to come to that conclusion and confront him

(spoiler show)

I'm still not entirely convinced this isn't the "hick town cops don't know how to do their jobs" trope, since it took Xav - an ex-FBI agent - to show up and start solving problems. Some things got a little repetitive also as he was having to repeat details to multiple characters at different times. But once everyone knew what was going on, they were quick, efficient, thorough and professional at getting things done.

 

I really enjoyed the supporting cast. Twyla Fay and Sheriff Winston were great. We need more of them in our government offices. I liked that Xav wasn't given a hard time for being gay because this is the South and that's what's expected. I also appreciated that while Xav and Chance's relationship does move along a little too quickly given all of Chance's issues, I still felt like the issues were addressed realistically and the ending here was more HFN than HEA, which also helped. I didn't get the sense these were two guys who miraculously had all their issues solved by love. They still have issues, but they like each other and that's enough for now. Oh, and the Forrest Gump shoutouts were fun too. You can never go wrong with a Forrest Gump reference. (This from the woman who named two of her cats Forrest and Jenny.) :)

 

I got thrown by the name brand shoutouts for Xav's jeans - just say designer jeans, am I right? There were some theatrics that might work okay in movies or TV but made me roll my eyes here, like the songs that were playing throughout that just so happened to be thematically appropriate for the scene or the moods of the characters. I wish my radio was that accurate. Hell, I'd even settle for my mood-themed playlists on my iPod to be that accurate! That's not even mentioning a certain thunderstorm that rolls in at just the opportune time. It felt clunky, like I was being told what I should be paying attention to and how I should be feeling about things, rather than just telling a story.

 

Things kind of fell apart at the climax. There were way too many loose ends left dangling for me to be happy about the "happy" ending.

First, if Faison really was cleaning house, they wouldn't have left Quinn alive. They'd have dragged him out from under that bed. Not that I'm not happy Quinn's alive because obviously I am, but it's just not realistic. We never find out how the SBI was getting their information. We never found out what happened to agent who was shot at the safe house and close to dying. We never found out if they were also able to arrest and prosecute the people on the Camaron. We never found out if the puppy guy was part of the operation or not, or if Victor's guys were just using him as an opportunity to snatch kids without his knowing. Most importantly, there were 20 kids missing. Four we know are dead, four were recovered alive, and then there's Quinn - what happened to the others?!

(spoiler show)

I need to know these things and it doesn't take long to summarize this stuff

even if it's just to say investigations are ongoing, because then at least I know the authors didn't forget about it.

(spoiler show)

As such, it was an unsatisfying ending to the investigation, even while the ending for the relationship for Chance and Xav

and Quinn

(spoiler show)

was well done.

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review 2014-12-22 04:02
"Kamisama Kiss" -- An Anime Review

Name: Kamisama Kiss

 

Version: Anime

 

Genre: Shoujo/Supernatural 

 

Triggers: Transphobic slur

 

Thoughts

Okay, so this anime/manga, from what I’ve seen gets recommended to people who liked InuYasha, and I can understand why. It does carry a lot of similarities to InuYasha, but , in my opinion, it is able to stand up on its own.  

I do think that this is a fairly good anime. I did find myself laughing at a lot of the jokes and gags. (I probably still would laugh a lot of them if I saw them again). I am glad that I saw this. This is the first season, and the second season will be coming out sometime next month (January). I do, for the most part, like Nanami as a character. She isn’t “naturally gifted” with her powers. There are a few cases to where her powers kind of manifest—or something else—happens at the last minute to save her from getting hurt too much or worse. I kind of feel like there hasn’t been enough detail to say how Nanami makes her powers grow, and I really don’t like that. This is especially given that her becoming more powerful is kind of key center to the plot. For the most part, the show does carry a “problem-of-the-week” type of vibe with the exclusion of the developing friendships and romantic relationships. I do kind of like this. However, I know that this probably means that the second season is going to have something that spans three or four episodes too.

I do like the developing romantic relationships. Though on Tomoe’s end, there is the cliché’ of the previous, now dead lover, I’m not as bothered about that as other might be. On Nanami’s end, I didn’t like how she was like she’d wait for him to love her back. I would have understood or liked it more if she said that she would’ve loved him anyway and just admit her feelings rather than pretend they didn’t exist. Maybe this was just in the version I was watching. But that didn’t really sit well with me. Their relationship, so far, seems to be of the “it-wasn’t-supposed-to-happen” type and they constantly go back and forth (which contributes to the gags that I talked about). However, I don’t find their fighting or anything as bad as I’ve seen in other shows/anime. It, again, gave me those InuYasha feels, with the exception of the fact that it took the both of them a lot quicker to realize how they felt about one another. That difference makes me glad because that was a huge fault of InuYasha for me.

The other big thing I didn’t like was there’s this character who is androgynous(or very feminine), and there’s a point(or two) where Nanami calls him(and I believe that’s how the Wind god identifies) a “h*sh*”. I didn’t like that. I really wish they had taken it out. However, this is a common problem I see in anime with having androgynous, gender fluid, and/or transgender characters.

Other than that, I did like Kamisama Kiss for the most part, and I am looking forward to the next season and what it brings.

 

Rating: 4 stars out 5

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review 2014-12-06 17:52
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I loved this book. It was like peeling back all the years of adulthood and going back to my teenaged self, remembering how confusing and beautiful everything was, how annoying and amazing it could be to figure out who you were, who your parents were, and how the world worked. Ari is my book soulmate, to borrow a phrase a friend used for him. He has a very simple and straightforward way of writing, but there's depth and prose there too, that mix of normal and profound that haunts you when you're a kid on the cusp of adulthood. I loved everything about this book (except for one small niggle I'll get to at the end) and really loved following Ari and Dante on their journey of friendship, and how their friendship affected everyone else in their lives. It's not an easy journey for any of them, but they all come out understanding each other better. Ari's an unreliable narrator, since he's rooted in denial and self-loathing, and seeing him slowly start to blossom and open up little by little was a treat. Which is why the ending didn't quite work for me. 

I wanted Ari to figure out his feelings for Dante on his own, not have his parents sit him down and be all "yo, you're totally gay for that boy". Because having characters tell other characters how they feel about each other always feels like forcing the relationship to happen. But like I said, it's a small niggle, because as much as that bothered me, I equally loved that Ari's parents are so open and accepting of him, and it was that offering of unconditional love that allowed Ari to finally accept what he's been denying himself all along.

(spoiler show)

 

It was also a little weird that we find out what Ari's brother did and 

he beat a transvestite death, and killed another guy, and they're hanging up pictures of him? And Ari has no opinion on what landed his brother in prison for life. I would have liked more development on that too.

(spoiler show)

 

And now I want a million sequels of Ari and Dante's continued adventures. :D

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review 2014-04-29 22:10
Thanks for trying, but ugh!
Wallflower - Heidi Belleau

This was a tough one. After I stopped reading Wallflower I had to take a break to gather my thoughts. I wanted to explain my issues with it without just writing off as a huge offensive mess, because it isn't a bad book. However it does have some big problems. I'm going to do my best to tackle my issues with the book, while still giving it credit for trying.

To be fair, I went into reading Wallflower with the expectation that it was about an open/out trans/genderqueer character finding love, which it is not. That expectation in combination with how the issues of gender and ethnic identity, as well as racism, were mishandled ruined the book for me.

This isn't a bad book. In fact, I really enjoyed parts of it, like the main character and the authentic feel of the dialogue. The writing and characterizations are very strong. Rob's story is refreshing and compelling in that it deals with how gender identity, sexuality and culture affects how people views themselves, other people and navigate through life in general. I think we need more books that tackle how all these things are interconnected.

It was also wonderful to see a non-white character not only at the center of the story, but to see their romantic partner be person of color too. That is so rare even in mainstream romance novels. It also doesn't make their ethnicity a footnote, but instead puts both Rob and Dylan’s ethnicity at the forefront of the narrative. Even though I have issues with how their ethnicity is handled, I still appreciate the effort at representation was made. Rob's experience of being Asian is an integral part of his point of view. Societies' view of Asian women is especially influential in how Rob constructs a female persona to expresses his sexuality, and why that persona and Rob's view of women are so problematic, but I'll go into that a little later.

Wallflower provides a narrative for that quiet person in the background who people see, but may never truly notice. It places that soft spoken, complex person at the center of their own story. For that, I think it is a wonderful book.

Unfortunately, there were some big problems that took away from my enjoyment of this story and left me so frustrated I couldn't finish. While I feel the intention of this book came from a good place the impact wasn't so great. Let me be clear, I think this book tried to be inclusive, and fair in its representation of gender fluidity, homosexuality and ethnicity, but I think it failed more often than it succeeded, especially when it came to handling racism.

There is also a lot of casual transphobia, misgendering and general ignorance about gender indignity in Rob's internal monologue, which is understandable given his character's ignorance about these issues and his own struggle with own identity. Unfortunately since Rob is the primary POV in story there isn't a lot, if any facts presented to counter the misinformation (at least up to the point I stopped reading).

Now, it's important to clarify that I did stop reading at 30%, though I did skim through the rest and found even more disturbing issues in the later parts of the book. Many of the issue may have been resolved later in the book, but I think it is really important to understand that if a book like this starts out with these issues it might trigger or just frustrate readers so intensely they will never make it through the rest of the book. Such was the case with me.

I was able to deal with Rob transphobic remarks, and the fact that I thought I was reading a book about a trans or gender fluid person, but in fact was told repeatedly in Rob's own narrative that he was a gay man, who only occasionally tried on the persona of a woman online. What began to wear on me was Rob's distorted view of female sexuality and femininity, specifically his perspective on Asian women.

It was really jarring to see an Chinese character's view of Asian women being based on very ignorant, arguably racist, ideas that were closer to the "Kawaii Cutie" fetish porn mention in the book, than anything closest to reality. Rob even comments on these distorted, cartoony objectifying fantasies of Asian women in porn and media, but then he himself looks at Asian women in his daily life and even constructs his female persona using that same racist lens. Rob even notes, with envy, these women's "stereotypical" clothing, petite bodies, and docile mannerism.

While this is a prime example of how internalized racism and sexism can influence someone’s perception of femininity, female sexuality, and especially women of color, I’m not sure that it was done so intentionally in this book. As far as I read, Rob is never called out on or educated about his distorted views, namely to explain that being sexually objectified by white men isn't a privilege or something to envy. It is dehumanizing, and often feeds into sexual violence against women of color. This trend of mishandled issues of racism only continues throughout the story.

It is especially off putting because the narrative is so aware of racism, and the differences in how both Rob and Dylan (who is Inuit) are treated. I felt like there was a very legitimate attempt to be true to the experiences of a person of color in the world. There are moments in the book that hit a home run in that regard, but there are also many huge missteps. Some were so bad, so offensive I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room.

Two people, especially people of color, trading racist insults like affectionate pet names while in a romantic relationships is not okay, especially cracking racist jokes in the middle of sex. Let me say that again: CRACKING RACIST JOKES IN THE MIDDLE OF SEX! Oh yeah, it happened.

There is nothing okay about a Native American man's lover making a horribly racist joke about his culture while he is a physically and emotionally vulnerable position. The lover being Chinese doesn't make it okay either. Telling a reader that a relationship where this kind of behavior is healthy, balanced and loving is an offensive lie.

No matter how you slice this kind of disgusting behavior, it is always offensive and an attempt to normalize it, especially doing so in the context of a loving romantic relationship is problematic to say the least.

Imagine a heterosexual man is about to have sex with a woman he loves for the first time and he jokes about her being a stupid slut who probably has an STD. Or a white gay man who is about to have sex with a black man, who calls him a dirty n-word. How is this love? How is it even funny?

The book is littered with racist jokes and stereotyping, often delivered under the guise of ironic humor, and the assumption that because they’re spoke by characters of color is that it is “okay.” IT IS NOT OKAY!

Not to mention, it is especially problematic when a white author uses a fictional character of color as an avatar to tell racist jokes and racist comments in a fictional context that normalizes racism. Which is exactly what is happening here.

Racism is racism, racist jokes are not some how better or less dehumanizing or less offense because they come from the mouth of a person of color. Despite the fact that there are many people of color who do this in real life, it’s important to understand the reason they do it is they’ve internalized racism to the point that they don’t even realize they are perpetuating it.

This treatment of racism normalizes it, allowing readers to see it as “not that bad” or “okay” under certain circumstances. It even frames dehumanizing, racist humor in a way that makes readers who are adamantly against racism laugh at racist jokes and to even find casual racism endearing. That's a big fucking problem.

People need to stop buying into the lie that we can defeat, or overcome racism by regurgitating it through humor and media. All it does is make people more comfortable with racism and perpetuates the misguided belief that it isn’t as much of a problem as it still is. Racism is still a very real problem, and the fact that people of color have to deal with it being used as causal humor (during a sex scene) in a romance novel featuring two characters of color as the leads is proof of that!

I would not recommend this book to any person of color, and trans/genderqueer/gender fluid readers. I would especially warn away anyone sensitive to racism, transphobia or sexism. This may be a book featuring gay people of color, but it isn’t friendly for any of us.

PS If you're going to comment to explain to me that people of color can be racist, and/or how this kind of humor is "different" because [insert incredibly ignorant reason here] don't bother. You're only going to embarrass yourself and annoy me.

 

[image source]

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