“Gender Identity: Beyond Pronouns and Bathrooms” by Maria Cook and illustrated by Alexis Cornell— For the Young


Cook, Maria. “Gender Identity: Beyond Pronouns and Bathrooms”, illustrated by Alexis Cornell, (Inquire & Investigate), Nomad Press,  2019.

For the Young

Amos Lassen

It is so good that now there are books for everyone. I love that gender identity is being taken seriously enough to be talked about with the young. “Gender Identity” is an “informative and project-filled book for middle graders to explore the meaning and history behind LGBTQ rights movements, including biographies of key figures in gender and gay/lesbian history, the context behind today’s transgender “bathroom wars” and dozens of activities and research ideas for perspectives and further learning.”

Many of us are finally dealing with thinking about gender as being a range instead of being simply male or female. In this new book,  middle school readers learn about the cultural significance of gender identity in the United States and around the world.  The book has been written with editors trained in the sensitivities of today’s gender discussions and is filled with interesting facts, primary sources, a range of text features, and more to engage readers. 

Some of the highlights include: 

  • Introductions to concepts crucial to understanding the basics of gender identity, including how gender identity differs from physical sex and sexual orientation, the importance of gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns, and more
  • Short biographies of gender activists and other important public figures throughout the text, filled with personal stories to help readers form social-emotional connections to the subject – includingRenee Richards,Chaz Bono, and gender rights pioneers Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, plus early transgender individuals including Lili Elbe and Christine Jorgensen.
  • In-depth information on famous gay/lesbian rights protests and movements, detailing the cultural and legal struggles for gay rights and gender acceptance, from the Compton Cafeteria riots to the Stonewall Riots to the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and more.

Sidebars throughout this book show how books and popular TV shows and movies helped expand gay/lesbian awareness and rights, from the early 1970s shows to the contemporary shows.

Projects and activities encourage teens to form their own, well-informed opinions on the many facets of gender perspectives and issues.

Gender Identity is part of a set of four books called Inquire & Investigate Social Issues of the Twenty-First Century, which explores the social challenges that have faced our world in the past and that continue to drive us to do better in the future. Other titles in this set are “Feminism”, “Immigration Nation”, and “Race Relations”.

About the series and Nomad Press:

Nomad Press books in the Inquire & Investigate series integrate content with participation, encouraging readers to engage in student-directed learning as opposed to teacher-guided instruction. This student-centered approach provides readers with the tools they need to become inquiry-based learners. Combining content with inquiry-based projects stimulates learning and makes it active and alive. As informational texts, our books provide key ideas and details from which readers can make their own inferences. Nomad’s unique approach simultaneously grounds kids in factual knowledge while allowing them the space to be curious, creative, and critical thinkers. 

All books are leveled for Guided Reading level and Lexile and meet Common Core State Standards and National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. All titles are available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats

Publishers Weekly
“This addition to the Inquire & Investigate series provides an interactive exploration of gender identity, gendered societal expectations, and LGBTQ rights. Sections explore gender expression in media and place changing views within the broader context of social history. They also name significant events, figures, and legislation pivotal to the LGBTQ movement from the 1930s onward. Cornell’s comic panels feature characters expressing affirming perspectives on gender identity, while Cook provides vocabulary relating to expression, questions for readers to consider, and suggestions for further investigation. A thought-provoking resource.”

From the foreword by: Christine Hallquist, first openly transgender major party gubernatorial nominee in the United States

“Maria Cook has done a brilliant job of capturing the important moments and the key leaders in the transgender movement, as well as providing an understanding of the nuance of language and the issues. For anyone who is transgender, who knows someone who is transgender, or simply wants to learn about the transgender movement, this is the book for you.”

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