Title: Gender Failure
Author: Ivan E. Coyote
First published March 31, 2014
256 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9781551525365 (ISBN10: 1551525364)
“Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon are two remarkable artists who have been grappling with their gender identity for a long time.
In their collaborative book, Gender Failure, they take us on a journey that is both heartbreaking and hilarious. Through a series of autobiographical essays, lyrics, and images, Ivan and Rae explore their failed attempts at fitting into the gender binary and how our expectations and assumptions about traditional gender roles fail us all.
This poignant collection is based on their acclaimed 2012 live show that toured across the United States and Europe. Gender Failure is a powerful reminder that gender comes in more than two sizes and that we all have the right to define ourselves on our own terms.
For anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite fit in, this book is a must-read.”
About the Author
Ivan Coyote grew up in Whitehorse, a small town in the Yukon Territory of Canada. They are a highly acclaimed writer and performer, having released six collections of short stories, one novel, three CDs, and four short films.
Their true passion lies in live storytelling, and over the past thirteen years, Ivan has captivated audiences at music, poetry, spoken word, and writer’s festivals across the globe, from Anchorage to Amsterdam.
Known as the k.d. lang of Canadian literature, Ivan loves trucks, small dogs, good coffee, smart women, leatherwork, carpentry, fishing, hockey, knot tying, cooking, climbing trees, and taking midday naps. They currently reside in Vancouver with their partner.
In addition to their writing, Ivan has made a name for themselves as a spoken word performer, delighting audiences with their captivating stories. They have published five collections of short stories and their first novel, “When the Cellos Fell from the Sky.”
Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote is a beautifully written memoir that explores the complexities of gender identity and the challenges of navigating a society that often fails to understand or accept those who exist outside of traditional gender norms.
Coyote is a writer, performer, and transgender activist who has gained recognition for their work in advocating for the voices and stories of trans and non-binary individuals. Through a series of interwoven essays, poems, photos, and illustrations, Coyote weaves a powerful narrative that challenges readers to question their assumptions about gender and to consider the ways in which we are all shaped by societal expectations and prejudices.
The book is divided into three main sections, each of which explores a different aspect of gender identity: “Failures of the Body,” “Failures of the Mind,” and “Failures of the Heart.”
One of the strengths of Gender Failure is Coyote’s use of personal anecdotes and insights to illustrate the challenges and triumphs of their own gender journey. They share stories from their childhood and adolescence, recounting the confusion and isolation they felt as they struggled to make sense of their own identity in a world that only offered binary options of male or female.
Coyote also explores the ways in which their gender has impacted their relationships, both romantic and platonic, as well as their experiences with discrimination, violence, and other forms of oppression. Coyote’s writing is powerful and evocative, displaying a keen eye for detail and a lyrical, almost poetic style.
They are able to convey complex emotions and experiences with remarkable clarity and honesty, making this book a compelling and engaging read even for those who may not identify as trans or non-binary. However, there are a few areas where Gender Failure falls short.
The book can feel disjointed at times, with some sections feeling more like a collection of loosely connected essays than a cohesive narrative. Additionally, while Coyote’s personal stories are moving and insightful, there are moments where the reader may crave more analysis and commentary on the larger social and cultural forces that contribute to the marginalization of trans and non-binary individuals.
Despite these minor flaws, Gender Failure is a remarkable work that deserves a broad audience. It offers a unique and nuanced perspective on the complexities of gender identity and the challenges faced by those who exist outside of traditional norms.
In a time when the rights and safety of trans and non-binary individuals are under attack in many parts of the world, books like Gender Failure serve as important tools for education and advocacy. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in exploring issues of gender identity, social justice, or personal growth.
It is a deeply moving and thought-provoking work that has the power to inspire empathy and understanding among readers of all backgrounds. I give this book four out of five stars, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring the complexities of gender identity and the ways in which our experiences are shaped by social and cultural forces.