Another delightful and insightful banned book – “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe

In November, I published a blog, “These banned books are delightful” in response to a disturbing recent article I read titled, “Battling over books – Conservative groups and Republican Officials are campaigning to ban books from schools and libraries.” The article showed the cover of a children’s book titled “My Two Dads and Me,” that was banned by a school district in Walton County, Florida.

And I have even seen this play out in my own city, Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina. A few parents even filed a lawsuit demanding that such books as “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe be removed from school libraries for being inappropriate pornography.

So I decided to order these three aforementioned books to read them for myself.

My November blog (link) reviewed two of those books. “My Two Dads and Me” written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Izak Zenou is targeted for pre-school children to depict two fathers enjoying all kinds of activities with their kids. And “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, a beautiful novel that follows an Hispanic young man raised in poverty by a struggling single mother.

And now I have read the third book, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, an autobiography dealing with identifying as nonbinary and asexual. This captivating book was written in “comic strip” format with over 230 pages of beautiful illustrations and heart-felt prose. Reading about this experience of someone different from myself provided me insight to help me grow as a more inclusive and understanding human being.

NOTE: Maia uses the pronouns e/em/eir, that are a variation of the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their.

Maia tells eir story from eir early years growing up through junior high, high school, college and into the world of teaching. E shares about the struggle of growing up not feeling that e belonged in the boxes of boy or girl, and then later not feeling that e could identify as straight, gay, bisexual or any of the popular labels. Maia was eir own person wanted to live life comfortable in eir own skin.

Patricia S. Kirkland, a Canadian-American analytic philosopher noted for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind.

In addition, Maia does share very important biological scientific work documented by Patricia S. Kirkland, a Canadian-American analytic philosopher noted for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. Kirkland’s critical work does document how gender formation in the womb is not solely male or female, but that a percentage of developing babies in the womb have chromosome combinations like XXY, XYY, Solo X and XXYY which brings scientific credence to the reality of gender fluid and nonbinary people.

I highly recommend this book as a way for all of us to open our minds to the reality of the infinite diversity within the human family, including around gender identity and sexual orientation. And this is increasingly important in the business and nonprofit worlds as more younger talent now identify as transgender or nonbinary, even as close minded, bigoted politicians try to deny the existence of these diverse fellow human beings.

The First Blog from My New Associate Deanna Jones – Changing Narratives

I recently read “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb for our book club. A fascinating book where the author takes us on the journeys of 5 of her patients (including herself). In each of these stories, we are introduced to characters that each have what they consider established truths about themselves. Through Lori’s therapy sessions, she uncovers key parts of each person’s established truth and how that might not be serving the patient in making future decisions. She helps guide the patients to see something they had not seen before. This is part of Lori’s powerful message from her very popular TED talk, “How Changing Your Story Can Change Your Life.”

Recommended Reading from Deanna Jones: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb

This core of this message is that we’re not reliable narrators of our own lives. Her quote from the book: “the art of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

Are you telling yourself stories that might be unreliable? Are there any unreliable narratives we tell each other as a individuals, a country or in our companies? Without a doubt we all find stories to make sense of our histories that influence our future decisions.

I have always told myself that I was a strong advocate for those who are marginalized. Invariably, this changes my focus for the future and lessens my call to action. . “I don’t need to focus on that, I’m already have it as my story.” However, whenever I think of that image where we are all at the Pearly gates and our lives are reviewed, St. Peter might look at me and “meh”. Yes, in all honesty, I was just “meh”

For 2023, I want to stop relying on my inflated stories I tell myself. Our country, our community and more to the point, our businesses, need strong advocacy for marginalized groups this year.. In our country alone, over 300 anti-trans bills were proposed in 2022. States passed more than 15 bills targeting transgender people. Over 30 transgender people have been killed this past year.  (Note from Stan Link to my blog about corporations once again being called to take the lead around diversity, equity and inclusion)

Deanna Jones, Total Engagement Consulting new Consultant on Call

I know our country can be better than this. What can we all do to make this a more inclusive place to live and work? Our call to action begins by examining our outdated narratives that what we‘re doing is good enough.

Do you feel you or your company has some false narratives that allow you to be “meh” in the DEI space? Is there room for you to do more? At the end of 2023, for myself, I want to know I did more, I hope you can find that for your business as well. Let this be our new and honest start to a better and more inclusive world. It all starts with our introspection. Let’s begin a new story for 2023.

Happy New Year.

* * * * * * *

This was the first of many blogs that will be provided by my new associate, Deanna Jones.  Link to my announcement of her joining my team.