Cover Image: Gender Pioneers

Gender Pioneers

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Member Reviews

Gender Pioneers
by Philippa Punchard 
Pub Date: August 18, 2022 
Jessica Kingsley Publishers 
* Nonfiction  *LGBT 
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.  I selected this book because I wanted to learn something about this topic. I was disappointed.  
1. The title is misleading! There are some in here who many would consider gender pioneering icons, such as Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, Lili Elbe, Anne Lister, and Alan Hart, but there are also those in here who are rapists and murderers. I surely hope that Punchard isn't actually celebrating them.
2. The actual content is plummeting. The book is all over the place. The entries are not organized in order of when they lived, there are several spelling and grammar errors. Possibly poor editing, but it does not make a pleasant reading experience for me. 
3. This is not a book I would recommend to someone identifying as any of the groups it covers, nor a youth trying to figure things out for themself, nor potential allies. I cannot recommend this book.  1 star
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An incredibly important topic, especially with the number of non-binary and gender fluid students in our school. However, this one misses the mark for me. I’m not a fan of the conversational tone and the book didn’t translate well into kindle format.  Some of the uncertainty around several figures ends up making the book feel poorly researched. I plan to check out the actual book in hopes that physical format helps it immensely, but still don’t plan to add it to my library. I hope publishers will continue to focus on the entirety of the gender spectrum even if this book wasn’t a success for me.
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This book could have been great if it was edited better and reviewed by actual trans and non-binary individuals before release. Not only were their misspellings and grammatical errors throughout the book, misgendering occurred quite often. For a book about trans and gender-nonconforming icons, I expected better. Other than that, the organization and writing style in the book was awkward and clunky. Not to mention a literal murderer being one of the "icons" highlighted in the book. Yikes.
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I’m thankful I downloaded this right away seeing as it was archived MONTHS before being published. 

I was excited for this one, it sounded so interesting and the concept is there. Which is why it was given two stars. 
However the vague descriptions, clunky writing and sometimes offensive phrasing was just not it. 

I was expecting more than what I got from this one.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for an eARC of this book.

To start off I will say that I don’t really read non-fiction. It’s not something that my brain can handle all the time and I don’t often find non-fiction books I’m interested in, however this one seemed really interested and I loved the idea of reading about historical figures who were trans, non-binary, or intersex.

I thought that this was a really interesting introduction to trans, non-binary, and intersex people from history. The book is comprised of short, 3 to 4 paragraph, long summaries of the life of a gender non-conforming historical figure and what they did, accompanied by an illustration of that person. It was like a very quick tour of a lot of historical figures.

I think this is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about historical figures, wanting to discover people they’ve never heard of before, or who are just interested in trans, non-binary, and intersex figures throughout history. For me, I wished that there was more detailed information about each individual rather than just a very short overview. I would have loved detailed accounts or in depth information about these people, their lives, what they did. I can understand that it would be hard to discuss the sheer number of people if the information was longer, but personal it would have interested me more to have more detailed information about the individuals featured in the book.

I definitely think this would be a great read and introduction to trans, non-binary, and intersex people. I think anyone interested in queer history or historical figures would enjoy it!
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I really wanted to like this book…

The author uses the word “celebration” in the title, but that is not what this is. This is a hodge podge of random facts strung together amid frequent misgendering of subjects and flippant discussion of sensitive topics - at one point a sentence more or less reads “They were murdered.” 

They place a murder victim on the page after discussing a prolific murder.

There is an inordinate amount of time devoted to discussing genitals and the surgery subjects may or may not have had.

Overall a promising idea very poorly executed. Would have benefitted from heavier editing.
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I loved Gender Pioneers by Philippa Punchard because it goes way back into history to make visible that gender-diverse individuals have existed for the longest time ever.  That this isn't a political or a liberal situation, that it has nothing to do with books, these are pioneers that have existed in the world and have graced us with their presence, they struggled to be their true selves and all that is asked in return is to let them live, to remember them and how they have paved the way which hasn't been easy to do because the fight is still going.  It is a great book for anyone and everyone to learn.
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This is a DNF for me and I urge the publishing company and author to consider a major overhaul. This book claims to “celebrate” pioneers in the LGBTQIA+ community, however it has misgendered language, highlights a murderer and someone who doesn’t even identify as LGBTQIA+. I’m sure it is well intentioned, but it is poorly executed and factually inaccurate.
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Very thankful I got to access this wonderful book! This book offers a much needed and accessible look at the lives of trans, non-binary, two spirit, and gender variant people throughout history, demonstrating that they have always been here. The organization of the book allows for insight into the ebb and flow of acceptance in gender difference throughout history, particularly in Europe and North America, and reveals how social anxieties (like swings towards fascism) result in increased policing and punishment for sexual and gender difference. One star removed, as at times the book felt out of its depth in discussing Indigenous peoples, particularly in North America. For instance, at times the phrase "indigenous natives" was used, which is redundant,
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As someone who identifies with my assigned gender at birth I feel it is really important that I listen to those who are meant to be represented in the book and from what I can gather this book does more damage than good. It confused gender and sex, mis-genders people and isn't the most sensitive of works. 
I found some the sentence structures of clunky and the books didn't flow well. Overall sadly not a book I would recommended
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Let me start off by saying how excited I was to be given access to this book, Gender Pioneers. It encapsulates so much information about something I’m passionate about: LGBTQIA+ advocacy, especially as pertains to gender issues. It is my understanding, through experience and education, that gender is a spectrum. This means that some people are very masculine, some are very feminine, and a whole lot of people fall somewhere between the two extremes. The old-fashioned and unscientific opposing opinion tends to be the belief of the general public, though: that gender is binary and consists of either male or female. So, when I found a book detailing the histories of pioneering men, women, and nonbinary people, I knew it was my kind of book and I was excited to request access.

Gender Pioneers is alphabetized by everyone’s first name, which can make navigating through it a little difficult. The title page does not have the author’s name listed.

The most unfortunate aspect of this eBook (in Kindle-friendly MOBI format, anyway) and the thing I have to take off serious points for, is the formatting. Each pioneer’s entry starts off with the first letter of their first name hovering two lines above the rest of their name, like so:



I assume the author wrote the first letters on each page in a special font, as some books have that, but for some reason it didn’t carry over to this format. This was visually jarring and distracting, and was immediately evident at the beginning, leaving me with a poor first impression. There continues to be formatting issues throughout the rest of the text.

I was very excited when I came upon Marsha P. Johnson’s entry, but it seems as though someone hacked up the words, cutting and pasting them in a nonsensical array, so that the entry, while readable, makes no sense. To have it make any sense at all, I had to read the first half of a sentence, then continue reading gibberish for 1.5 sentences, where the other half of the first was! Obviously, this is unacceptable.

This is an excerpt to show that issue:

“Marsha P. Johnson’s body was found in the beatings and arrests by the police. In the Hudson River and, despite visible wounds early hours of June 28th 1969, Johnson and reports of her being harassed, her is cited as ignited the Stonewall Riots by death was judged to be suicide.”

Another formatting issue that’s quickly evident is the arrangement of everyone’s name with their photos. I believe their names should show up beneath their visual representation (whether photo or artistic portrait). Instead, the individual’s name shows up on the top page of the next person’s entry, and is spelled out with letters of varying capitalization, making them hard to read and not very accessible. The page for Mary Frith aka Moll Cutpurse started with Marsha P. Johnson’s name written: “mArsHA P. JoHnson”, and I believe it should have been on the previous page, under her photo.

It’s quite possible that this eBook was written and edited for EPUB format, not MOBI, and that could be the cause of some of the issues. However, that should not be an acceptable excuse for a release-ready book. The editors and publishers should have caught this long before it ended up on NetGalley, because this book is not in the least reader-friendly, and I don’t think it’s ready for publishing.

Having said all of that, I do commend the author for their research, which appears to have been extensive. They list many trans, nonbinary, and intersex individuals who I had personally never heard of before, and I’ve been an advocate since 2004. It appears they dug through tons of historical records, including the accounts and biographies of those who knew them. There is a lot of information here I don’t think I’d find elsewhere, at least not all in one spot.

When not jumbled, the entries are written well and concisely, and mostly without judgmental language, leaving the reader to gasp and sigh at their treatment rather than read the author’s opinions and feelings. I appreciate that, partly because I’m highly sensitive and I don’t know if I could handle reading how it devastates the author while feeling my own sense of desolation. That manner of writing is also a good journalistic approach to the book, which fits its format well.

Coming up with a star rating for this book was difficult because every time I thought of something to condemn the book for, I found something worthy of praise. I decided to go with 3/5, because it needs quite a bit of improvement to be print-ready. However, I’d love to purchase my own copy when it gets the formatting kinks worked out of it.
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First, thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Second, I was expecting more from this one to be honest. It was hard to actually finish it because it felt... incomplete. The idea? Great, wonderful, exciting! I'm nonbinary, so I'm all there! In practice? It didn't go so well, and there were even instances of misgendering. It felt rushed and compiled (in a not so great way) rather than thought over and written with care and the utmost respect. At times it feels a bit derogatory and weirdly essentialist, and it was very, very hard to read. I requested this initially to see if it could be something I might use in the classroom. After the first few pages, I absolutely vetoed that idea. I'm concerned this might actually spread more misinformation and do more harm than good.

Great idea! I'm so into this idea! But it wasn't done well.
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Thanks in advance for the advance copy of this book.  As excited as I was to read this book, It didn't quite it the mark for me.  While the author had good intentions, I don't feel it truly celebrated gender pioneers effectively.  There were points in the book where it felt less like a celebration of these gender pioneers.
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This was a great nonfiction read. I enjoyed learning more about all of these people who paved the way for me to live my life to my fullest and truest identity.
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I enjoyed this book and thought it was a very comprehensive history of historical transgender figures. I wish it went in chronological order though instead of alphabetical.
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This wasn't what it was said to be. The cover said that the book's "a celebration of trans, nonbinary and intersex icons" but it wasn't that. For example one of the so called icons included was a murderer. The language used in this book wasn't respectful at all towards the identities of the people the author was writing about.
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This was one of my first nonfiction titles, and I loved it! As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I really enjoyed the information in this book. I found it accessible and easy to gift to someone else. I look forward to buying my own copy when it comes out!
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This book shows that trans and intersex people have existed throughout history, in all areas of the world. It presents profiles of historical trans/intersex/genderqueer figures and tells you about their lives and stories. I really liked the illustrations, and I learned a lot of names I didn't know before. This book is a great refutation to the argument that gender-diversity is a 'modern' phenomenon. This book also features people from across the political spectrum, and also discusses people with a variety of professions not just those who are deemed traditionally 'inspirational'. Although, like other reviewers, I felt that the inclusion of criminals and fascists was a bit disarming given the celebratory tone of the title. Generally speaking though, liked the diversity of people portrayed in this book, it is a short and sweet introduction to trans history and I enjoyed the read.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review- thanks to the author and publisher!
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Well this was a slog. 

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this one at all. I was excited about this book, but the title itself is incredibly misleading. This is a far cry from celebration. Many of the entires misgender the person they are biographizing and spend most of the page-long entry discussing the subject's genetalia and "true" gender (sex assigned at birth), rather than what these indviduals actually did with their lives. When the individuals are discussed--oof. There was a literal murdered included--not things to be celebrated. I understand the author intended to show the long history of trans* people, and I don't think all queer people need to be perfect to be remembered, but it just felt wrong to have this in a book that is supposedly celebratory.

 The book itself was extremely disorganized, as the individuals were only listed by alphabetical order rather than eras they lived, which made it difficult to make connections between various people who knew or married each other, and the writing was clunky. 

Overall, this needs a major overhaul before publication. I highly recommend checking out reviews from other trans reviewers as well, who echo and expand on my opinions here.

Thank you NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for honest review.
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The idea of a book filled with trans and gender expansive people through different periods is a good one - and this book is filled with a lot of people and information, sadly I found it very badly executed. I didn't enjoy the writing style, which honestly felt more like notes taken from wikipedia pages. The entries for each person were short so lacked a lot of detail and nuance. Some were unreadable (and will hopefully go through more editing before publication). In my opinion there were too many instances of going into great detail about an individual's genitals (especially intersex folks) - including the author describing someone's genitals as "strange" which is especially inappropriate for a book about gender  variance! There's also multiple instances of misgendering, pronoun use I can't understand the justification of, and deadnaming.

The title is misleading too, as I wouldn't call literal murders "icons", as interesting as their place in history may still be.

This book had good potential but ultimately felt too rough and unfinished.
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