Vaid-Menon presents as a writer with a passion and a purpose for writing about the dangerous impact of judging individuals that are gender non-conforming through the experience and eyes of those who are gender binary. `
The author of this book was part of an Indian American family in College Station, TX, and narrates how their life, experience and their way of getting by was viewed as something to be ashamed of and wrong. They state “ Overnight, so many of the things that I loved not only became associated with femininity but with shame.”
The writer explains their journey of personal growth during their adolescent years as well as through young adult-hood that consequently led to pride, self-acceptance and the freedom that comes with awareness.
The second part of this powerful but short book brings to light the arguments that are typically used against individuals living past the gender binary. These discussions are further broken down into four categories: inconvenience, dismissal, the slippery slope, and biology.
The writer defines each category and then proceeds to explain how short-sighted, hypocritical, and often damaging such assumptions can be. At the end of the book, you come to the realization that the message is one of hope, it is informative, supportive, and empowering. It also gives young people something to look up to and inspire them during times of trouble and darkness.
The book is a literary vessel for individuals looking for honesty, hope, and education in their self-exploration. The reader can take it as a 21st century survival manual for those individuals identifying as queer regardless of their walk of life.
Alok has successfully provided a safe space of experiences, love, and commitment to broaden the gender binary and ultimately create a more inclusive present and future. The book is a marvel of knowledge, wisdom, and the joy of celebrating oneself by bringing down the transphobic lens that is a block to gender non-conforming individuals. Beyond the Gender Binary offers all its readers a chance to realize that anything within them is possible and that self-love- regardless of an individual’s choice of gender expression is possible and attainable.