REVIEW: The Gender Games, Juno Dawson

Friday, 12 January 2018

'It's a boy!' or 'It's a girl!' are the first words almost all of us hear when we enter the world. Before our names, before we have likes and dislikes - before we, or anyone else, has any idea who we are. And two years ago, as Juno Dawson went to tell her mother she was (and actually, always had been) a woman, she started to realise just how wrong we've been getting it.
Gender isn't just screwing over trans people, it's messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can't be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to 'alt-right' young men. From men who can't cry to the women who think they shouldn't. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story, but the story of everyone who is shaped by society's expectations of gender - and what we can do about it.

The Gender Games is a true marvel. It is a book that I feel as though I would be able to hand to any person I walked passed in the street, however ill-informed they are on the subject of gender identity, and they would come away from the book with a well-rounded understanding of what it means to be transgender in today’s society (if it wasn't so frank about sex, I would definitely be handing it to my grandma right now - refreshing to read about for me, not so much for her). That is majorly down to the way that this book is written, as Juno comes across as incredibly witty and friendly and just so damn funny - honestly, I would love to go and watch her do a TED Talk or something of the like, because I can imagine that listening to her speak would be incredibly engaging (shout-out to a fellow West Yorkshire girl! I can imagine her accent even now). The book manages to cover truly awful subjects (the damaging effects of encouraging gendered behaviour, widespread transphobia, normalised violence against women, the fetishisation of trans people, the struggles linked to transitioning) and yet it doesn’t come off as out-and-out depressing or completely negative about the state of current society.
…It actually feels kind of hopeful.
About what society can do to move forward and rally together to help people, of all identities, to rise up and to feel beautiful and powerful. About the next chapter in her life.
At one point in the book, Juno says “remember this, whoever you are, however you are, you are equally valid, equally justified and equally beautiful” and I think this is so damn important for so many people to hear - especially with the world currently the way that it is. The Gender Games honestly felt like a warm hug for anyone who is subjected to any of society’s prejudices and one which I think that everyone, no matter their sexual or gender identity, should pick up and read at least once in their lifetime.

Head on over to for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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