A QUICK AND EASY GUIDE TO THEY/THEM PRONOUNS
Written by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Art by Archie Bongiovanni
Edited by Ari Yarwood
Published by Limerence Press/Oni Press
Release Date: June 13, 2018
It should be the easiest thing in the world.
Use words to describe people that they want used to describe them. Don’t use words that they don’t.
A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is, funny enough, exactly that. It’s a quick read, an easy read, and more than anything else, a fun read. Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson have developed this book ostensibly as a workplace user guide for educating employees on the necessity of respecting identities beyond the traditional gender binary of male and female.
But in truth, A Quick and Easy Guide is the farthest from the dry sexual harassment videos I’ve sat through in HR orientation. Bongiovanni and Jimerson have produced a short book that can be handed to absolutely anyone, young or old, in the workplace or in your living room, to impart on a basic human level how easy it is to show respect for nonbinary friends, family, and strangers alike.
The book takes great pains to lead with empathy, and never talk down to anyone who may have been in the offending position before (or while) reading. It’s an incredibly patient tactic that — lord knows — is generally a lot to ask of a person who can’t get through the day without being misgendered and disrespected at every turn. It’s completely lacking in even deserved bitterness, and that is an incredible feat in itself.
But beyond that, the authors really trade on the simplest explanations for why using they/them is such a reasonable request, and why refusing to do so is, quite frankly, oddball. In one brief sequence, Tristan develops a really simple parallel:
I mean, when your friend Robert asks you to call him Bob, you don’t think twice about it. So, why are you being a jerk about this?
I mean, for real.
A Quick and Easy Guide also leads by example in using the word “cis” without drama or compunction. It’s a very simple, yet powerful thing that cisgender (meaning, identifying with the gender assigned to one at birth) people can do to help lend semantic balance to the word “transgender” — so that it is not always relegated to the margins of language as a descriptor or viewed as an antonym for “normal.”
Because what Bongiovanni and Jimerson do here, in both dialogue and Bongiovanni’s casual clean illustrations, is impart one simple truth: everything is “normal.” Everyone deserves respect not because it’s some gallant heroism to recognize nonbinary identities, but because it’s ludicrous not to. It’s so simple. It’s so easy. It’s easier than making the somewhat dramatic effort not to.
Buy this book for someone you love that doesn’t get it. Heck, it’s only $8. Buy a bunch. Odds are, it will make a difference. It’s that well thought-out, and at its root, it’s simply that human.
The Verdict: 10/10