Tomboy Survival Guide

At age five, Ivan Coyote (Gender Failure) knew what it was like to feel different and uncomfortable in one's skin. With a semi-chronological narrative, famous quotations and pen-and-ink illustrations, Tomboy Survival Guide is an insightful memoir of recognizing and accepting one's gender identity while being raised in the Yukon during the 1980s. (Generation X readers will immediately understand and enjoy the many cultural references and nostalgia.)

Coyote is transgender and uses the pronouns they and their. Recalling "the kind of lonely I felt in my belly," Coyote shares defining childhood moments, such as when a stranger thought Coyote was a boy: "Made me feel like he could look inside me and see some part of the truth of me in there." With a strong aptitude for the trades and interest in electricity, Coyote was met with cruel harassment in training programs and on job sites. An advocate for the transgender community, Coyote shares examples of decades of discrimination within the context of personal experiences using restrooms, changing facilities and other public venues.

A live-performance storyteller, filmmaker and musician, Coyote has a narrative style that occasionally strays into casual and off-the-cuff recounting, which lends itself nicely to some of Tomboy Survival Guide's lighthearted moments. Humorous remembrances of childhood summer escapades with cousins are paired alongside challenges in the face of societal injustices. Coyote's memoir offers a moving perspective of life as a transgender person with insights for others on this path and for LGBTQ allies. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

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