Book Review: The Gender Wheel: A Story about Bodies and Gender for Every Body by Maya Gonzalez
The Gender Wheel: A Story about Bodies and Gender for Every Body by Maya Gonzalez is a must read. It is a picture book for kids 7-10, but it gives language and imagery for everyone. Maya uses a wheel instead of a binary spectrum to talk about her “theory of gender and body diversity that is decolonized, holistic, and rooted in nature.” The gender wheel is made up of concentric circles: one representing physical body, another holding gender identities, and the third is for pronouns. Like a combination lock, find your place on each of the 3 circles and click open your unique self.
The first circle is the Body Circle, which includes cis, trans, and intersex bodies. Next is the Inside Circle. This circle holds how a person feels on the inside, including gender identity. Gonzalez refers to the inside as the “most important part of our bodies because this is who we are.” She includes over 20 gender identities, such as agender, boi grrl, gender fluid, trans femme, and many others. In case you do not see your gender identity represented in the language present, Gonzalez leaves blank spaces inviting you to include other terms. The third circle is the pronoun circle. He, she, they, ze are included, with room for other created pronouns to be added.
Every body fits on the wheel and every gender has a place. The circles are always growing, embracing all of us. The circles are always turning, connecting all of us.
The author of this beautiful book, Maya Gonzalez, describes herself as a Chicanx, queer femme artist, progressive educator and award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. Go to her website http://www.genderwheel.com and stay a while. Gonzalez offers rich curricula for adults and young adults with supplementary materials to explore gender within the contexts of nature, indigenous peoples, different cultures, and US history.