Sharing Their Differente Stories In "Non-Binary Lives"

§ I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

"What does it mean to be non-binary in the 21st century?" is the first question on the back of the book, and it tries to answer this by sharing the stories of non-binary people all over the world. By doing so, there are more than 20 essays in this book that contain insight, eye-opening events, and stories from non-binary people and how it interacts with different aspects of their lives.

"Non-binary gender (also called NB) describes any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary spectrum."


The reason I picked this book was because it was the first time I heard of it. Of course, there are non-fiction books looking at gender and gender rolls in der general, as well as non-fiction books about what non-binary is. However, a book that shares different stories from non-binary people all over the world? Nope.

This is why I feel that this book is important and I am glad to be able to write that "Non-Binary Lives" keeps its promise. The stories are split into four sections: cultural context, communities, the life course, and bodies, health and wellbeing. In each section various people tell stories how their non-binary identity interacts with that aspect, this ranges to a Jewish NB person who struggles with some part of their family but has found an accepting place in religion, to a disabled person who gets repeatedly mis-gendered during medical emergencies and when their health is more important they don't have "time" for their gender and the struggle this creates.

 Non-Binary Lives - An Anthology of Intersecting Identities  edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta

Almost every story that you can imagine is in this book, autistic NB folks, fat NB folks, NB who know their privilege of "passing" and move on, to people struggling for acceptance within their own family. At the same time, there is no "normal" story, which shows that the non-binary community is very diverse and even within it, gender means something different to every person. It is hard to define and place a finger on.

So I began to wonder, if it would be able to relate for someone who is non-binary as well. Some aspects are relatable while at the same time, there are parts I could simply not follow at all. One person discovers their gender via sexual freedom, as someone who is asexual that was a big "day and night" moment for me. The same way an AMAB person is not going to relate to the story of someone giving birth either, but the more the merrier! It really depends on the person you are and your own experience of gender.

Though I must admit that what I found lacking was the voice of the "quiet" non-binary person. Every author is special in their own regard and do something great and amazing. This made it a somewhat intimidating read because someone who is non-binary or genderqueer and just goes about their daily business and maybe to pride when they have time, does not find a story that reflects them.

Nevertheless, "Non-Binary Lives" feels like a must read for everyone in the queer community who wants to learn more about what it means to be non-binary and how it interacts with different aspects of your life. It gives more insight than any piece of literature I had read before and shares stories from all over the world.

Non-Binary Lives - An Anthology of Intersecting Identities edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta
Published2020by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Goodreads:Add to shelf


  1. What a thoughtful and detailed review, Susanne. I must admit this isn't something I'd normally pick up but I like the point about people across all divides sharing their own stories. That always makes for interesting reading :)

    1. Thank you for the comment! I think it is important to listen to all stories, and it's great that books also give people the opportunity to do so.

  2. This sounds like an absolutely incredible read and I'm so glad I came across this review as I think it's one I'd like to pick up at some point. It sounds like a great tool to educate yourself and possibly expand your viewpoint. I love that you said it covers all kinds of stories from people from different cultures, disabilities and heath conditions. It sounds like it covers such a great scope (even if the quiet one is missing). Great review too, very thorough x


    1. Thank you! I always try to be as insightful and thorough as possible when it comes to such books. :)


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