Tomboy Survival Guide

Tomboy Survival Guide

Book - 2016
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"Tomboy Survival Guide warmly recounts Ivan's past as a diffident yet free-spirited tomboy, and maps their journey through treacherous gender landscapes and a maze of labels that don't quite stick, to a place of self-acceptance and an authentic and personal strength."--
Publisher: Vancouver :, Arsenal Pulp Press,, 2016
ISBN: 9781551526560
1551526565
Characteristics: 239 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm

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l
lydia1879
Apr 02, 2018

This memoir is how memoirs should be.

Coyote's tender craftsmanship is incredible. Their vignettes are like memories, with a message they tie into their later life, like a lifeline. Each time you read a new vignette, you can feel it building and building, until they release it like a rope, coiling at your feet. The message comes through. This is why they wrote this.

Arsenal Pulp Press published this book and they are definitely one of my favourite publishers. They've included gorgeous illustrations and etchings of usually things that you would find in instruction manuals. How to tie knots, how to cast on knitting, the component parts of a generator, how to use a hacksaw, which gives the stories such great individual texture. Each of the etchings means something to the story and it just adds another layer of polish to an already fantastic book.

A trans friend of mine read this and she said she cried on average every 23 pages, good tears and bad tears. Any time she didn't cry, she laughed.

It was the same for me.

I love Ivan. I feel like so many trans books and memoirs are ... written to help cisgender people to understand trans people. And the problem with some of those is that you begin to see only the one side of a person, the trans side.

Ivan Coyote is more than their trans-ness, and by writing moments of their lived experience, you begin to understand how they live their life as a trans person, without it ever being a spectacle. Coyote writes for everyone.

Their writing is soft in a world that tried to make them hard. They have thoughtful insights on gender and how that makes us the way we are.

Coyote often says that the world didn't make space for their trans body, but every time they write a book (and they've written 11), they make space for another trans person. And another, and another, and another.

Because I have short hair, I'm often asked by lots of people:

"Are you a boy or a girl?"

My favourite response tends to be: "Yes."

They frown, tilt their heads, try to guess. Try to ask me to confirm, but I won't budge. I shrug, smile, grin, don't say much.

I've spent 17 hour flights being called alternating titles "Sir", "Miss", and it felt liberating to have the chokehold of gender away from me for a little while.

Kids are also fun because their concepts of gender, from so young, are so rigid.

"If blue is a boy's colour and pink is a girl's colour, what's yellow?"

Oh, how they argue. How they bicker. How they defend that yellow is a girl's colour because princess' hair is blonde and ...!!

But then I got to the chapters were Coyote discussed going to a public bathroom. And as much as I like to flirt with gender, poke at it, irritate it, I've never been called out in a lady's bathroom.

I argue in favour of bathroom equality a lot. I've seen disabled bathrooms up a flight of stairs with no lift access (???), I've seen single dads hurrying into lady's bathrooms with their tiny tiny daughters because there was no parents room, all the while being judged. And I always say that if people of any gender can use your bathroom at home, then, ta da! You have yourself a gender-neutral bathroom. Congratulations.

And while I knew, of course, that using a public bathroom as a trans person was a risk for trans people, Coyote still taught me so much.

So now, any time I go anywhere, I'll look for gender-neutral bathrooms. I will make note of the ones that are less busy, I'll use my disability and allow a trans person to come into the disabled bathroom with me, if that makes them more comfortable.

My point is this: Tomboy Survival Guide made me a better ally.

a
Angeltata
Feb 19, 2018

This is a must read for everyone. It will challenge you to empathize and understand our journey as humans. We are all in this together - and this book gives an unusual raw perspective of another human's life.

v
vancouverville
Jan 30, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a glimpse of the challenges faced by transgendered people. But it's also about growing up and navigating family relationships. The book is written in a way that makes you feel that you are having a conversation across a coffee table with the author. And for those of us who live in Vancouver, it's fun to read about our city featured in many of the stories.

b
becker
Sep 02, 2017

This book is a collection of very short essay type stories where the author tells us about growing up queer/trans in a small town in the Yukon. It is generously written with honesty and simplicity and is very charming at times. There are so many ways that a person might connect with this author. If you can relate to growing up in a small remote community, or if you have gender challenges, or if you know what it feels like to not quite fit in...the list goes on. Unfortunately, I didn't make any of those connections, so although I appreciated the sentiments of the author, I really never felt like he was speaking to me and I felt uninterested. I would still recommend this because I think a lot of people would enjoy hearing about Ivan Coyote's thoughts and experiences. He comes through as a very likable person.

SPL_Shauna Jun 25, 2017

Honestly, I can't think of anyone reading YA or adult lit that this book isn't perfect for. Are you a young person questioning your identity? An adult who had a rough go of it in high school? Or just someone lucky enough to fit into gender categories fairly neatly, but who's interested in understanding others' lives better? Bingo. This book is for you.

Written in short, autobiographical vignettes themed around growing into a trans identity, Coyote approaches tough issues through a compassionate, funny and sometimes sexy lens. The prose is compulsively readable. Even when justifiably angry, Coyote's voice is thoroughly humane and wonderfully warm. Highly recommended to anyone. Honestly. The hold button's right over there - if you're at all curious, just click it. You're welcome.

UPDATE! There's now a full review of this under "Summary"

s
spiderfelt_0
Jun 16, 2017

Read. This. Book.

Then tell a friend, a parent, a sibling, a co-worker or the person standing next to you at the bus stop about this amazing book you just read that you couldn't put down and you wished everyone was reading at the same time so we could all talk about it. Not because it is #pridemonth, but because it is that good, and we owe it to each other as citizens of this diverse world. #transbooks #LGBTQ

k
KATEMCW
Dec 20, 2016

Ivan Coyote has a way of writing that makes it seem as if you are hearing the words straight from the author's mouth. I loved this book, and Ivan's way of sharing stories and anecdotes of growing up 'different' in small-town America makes it so easy to put yourself in the author's position- to question your own safety, to wonder why people say the things they do, and to have to put in a huge amount of effort to fit in. For those who grew up 'different' from their peers, this book is hugely relatable, and for those who enjoy beautifully-written short stories this will also hit the spot. Ivan is a natural-born storyteller, and this book is proof of that talent.

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SPL_Shauna Jul 14, 2017

Recently, I was in a reading slump of epic proportions. I didn’t want anything heavy; I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t want anything light, either – I’d just been through something that made anything too frivolous seem almost an insult. But, I needed a book; otherwise I’d be insufferable waiting in line anywhere. Literally anyone could be my victim, stuck chatting about anything. Bemoaning this very specific librarian problem to a colleague, she made a brilliant recommendation: Ivan Coyote’s 2016 memoir, Tomboy Survival Guide.
The content is indeed weighty. The memoir follows Coyote’s life growing up in Yukon and BC. Structured almost as short stories, different chapters offer meditations on bullying, sexual assault and harassment, the fate of women in the trades, the death of a grandmother. Shot through them all is a common thread of Coyote coming to understand - and find joy in – their identity as a transgender person.
And finding joy is key for Coyote. While that list of topics sounds a touch grim for summer reading, Coyote is master of the light touch (as anyone who attended Coyote’s talk at the Stratford Writers’ Festival last year already knows). When Coyote is angry, it’s the kind of anger that makes you snort-laugh. When sad, it’s the kind of blue lit from inside with hope. Mostly, though, Coyote is just really, really funny in a wry, warmhearted way that’s lovely to spend time with.
Coyote’s voice is naturally lyrical and personal, and so wise you can sort of see the path to being a better person when you’re done reading. The structure makes it easy to dip in and out of anywhere you might be this summer, and it’s small enough to tuck into your bag and take with you. Tomboy Survival Guide is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys memoir and nonfiction.

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