Review | “Burn The Binary!” by Riki Wilchins2 min read

Synopsis

An icon of transgender activism for three decades, Riki Wilchins is the author of four influential books on genderqueer, trans politics, and queer theory. Riki Wilchins has been a pioneering and influential thinker and writer for a quarter of a century. Now this single volume offers a selection of Riki’s most penetrating and insightful pieces, as well as the best of two decades of Riki’s online columns for The Advocate never before collected. Think of this as Riki Wilchin’s greatest hits!

Content Warnings

Slurs used towards the LGBTQ+ community; Descriptions of genitals; Multiple types of queerphobia;

Review

Cover of Burn The Binary! by Riki Wilchins

Thank you to Riverdale Avenue Books and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been a while since I’ve read something by Riki Wilchins, but she certainly knows how to leave a lasting impression. Between her wide experience and knowledge base to pull from and her “Suck it!” attitude toward injustice, it’s hard not to stand out. This collection, Burn The Binary! just continues to prove that she’s not here to take cis bull shit and never has been.

I typically have a tough time reading anthologies and collections. Once one part is over, my ADHD mind thinks the whole book should be over. So starting a new story/essay every few pages is rather frustrating, unlike chapters which are constantly building off of each other. However, this book is just one of the few  topics that will keep my attention in just about any format! Reading this felt more like a biography that a collection of essay, which one could argue it is. A lot of these essays are just so personal. Even the ones that don’t focus on her own life show enough of her personality for anyone familiar with her work to pick it out in a stack.

The collection is organized by where the piece was first published instead of chronologically or by topic. Yet the jumping around didn’t get too confusing for me. It felt natural to go from a recount of a specific moment in the transgender rights movement to a piece admiring Leslie Feinberg to a narrative about Wilchin’s bottom surgery experience. It definitely is a book full of her greatest hits.

Final thought: Wilchins was one of the loudest voices in the transgender rights movement when it first started, and, although she might not be the first name we think of anymore, she certainly hasn’t slowed her efforts. Filled with history, passion, and first-hand accounts of the queer experience, Burn the Binary!


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