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Review - The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook

The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender by Sam Killermann is a charming, engaging, useful guide to anyone interested in learning about gender and its related topics. It’s particularly valuable to those involved in any type of social advocacy. This book is intended to be a resource, rather than follow any specific narrative, and it’s possible for the reader to pick-and-choose the sections of the book they would like to read, if they already know some of the material.

Sam Killermann is very thorough in discussing gender identity, biological sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, and several other topics. He has a talent for explaining things in a simple, memorable way. Something I enjoy very much about his teaching style is his use of visual aids. I personally learn best when I can learn the concept in a couple of different ways, and he has several excellent drawings that represent his concepts in a way that words simply cannot.

I really appreciate the time and effort that Killermann has put into the appendices of his book; they are filled with great information! Killermann has provided an excellent glossary (with his own simple, easy-to-understand definitions), an explanation of the asterisk used in "trans*," and a list of recommended reading. For me, this was the most valuable section of the book. It’s very helpful to have these definitions all together so I can refer to them quickly when I need to, and I love that I can now look into some of the books that he felt were worthy of recommendation.

His overall style is whimsical and energetic, which is great for topics that can become very serious. It brings balance to the subject. He uses his own drawings throughout the book, some are practical, others are simply for fun. I personally felt that the “fun” ones were a little distracting; they were cute, but each time I saw one, I felt disappointed because I was hoping for some interesting fact or new insight. Killermann’s writing style is very relaxed, friendly, and casual. It gave me the sense that, rather than reading a book, I was discussing the topics with a good friend, rather than reading them. At times his writing felt a little cheesy for my taste, but it was still endearing.

I enjoyed The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender and felt it was worth reading. I highly recommend this book as a great “Gender 101” resource for readers interested in learning about gender who haven’t yet learned much about it.



Note: I did this review using an e-book version of The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender that I purchased with my own funds.

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