In Tomboy Survival Guide, author Ivan Coyote shares their life journey from growing up in the Yukon to their life today as an author, performer, and advocate. The stories as told by Coyote are at times funny, at time sad, but always seem to retain that common thread of a strong family bond.
Taking the book at face value as a memoir, it was a good read. The stories were well-written and engaging – I could see myself roller skating with Coyote and their cousins in BC; I felt it when they fell off their brand new bike. Taking a step beyond the pages, however, this book taught me how to be a better ally. In the chapter “Middle Seat” Coyote discusses the phrase “prefers the pronoun” and how they want to erase this phrase since it conveys with it the sense of “choice” and allows people to choose to respect it or not. This is something I never considered before and will now be more conscientious about my own phrasing. Similarly the chapter “Uncomfortable” delves into the issues surrounding gender identity and bathrooms. I have always expressed support of people using whatever bathroom they are comfortable using; however reading Coyote’s perspective opened my eyes to details that I had never considered. It also helped give me words if I encounter someone being harassed about their use of their preferred bathroom.
Tomboy Survival Guide is a memoir with layers, one which I strongly recommend. These are stories of family, love, acceptance and understanding, and are not limited to who you are, how you identify, or who you love.
CBR10 Bingo Award Winner square: Tomboy Survival Guide is a Stonewall Book Award Honor recipient, was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust of Canada Prize for Nonfiction, and was long-listed for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.