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Understanding Gender: Identity, Biology & Expression    cover photo

Understanding Gender: Identity, Biology & Expression 2018


Distributed by Distributed by Human Relations Media, 41 Kensico Drive, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549; 800-431-2050
Produced by Produced by Anson Schloat, Sara Schloat
Directed by Directed by John G. Young, James Spione
DVD, color, 88 min.

Middle School - General Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers

Date Entered: 07/03/2018

ALA Notable:
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Lori Widzinski, Multimedia Collections and Services, University Libraries, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

This brief 20 minute video will help fill a critical need for high schools and middle schools that educate students on various aspects of gender in our society. It breaks out biological gender, gender identity and gender expression, presenting each within the definitions associated with the larger concept. Vocabulary is especially vital to grasping this topic, and the meaning of essential terminology such as transgender, gender non-conforming, binary and non-binary, sexual orientation, and LGBTQ among other related terms are all presented in a logical, comprehensible manner.

The directors chose to examine the concept of transgenderism through the example of Nicole Maines. Nicole’s biological gender was male, and she has an identical twin brother. Growing up, she didn’t identify with the male toys and behaviors like her brother did, instead, she saw herself as a female from a very young age. When Nicole’s middle school denied her the right to use the girls’ bathroom, the Maines family found themselves in the national spotlight, at the center of a very controversial issue. An especially poignant conversation with her father brings to light the struggles as well as the crucial role of parents (and other family members) in recognizing when their child is trying to express their true self when it doesn’t match the gender our binary culture has placed upon them at birth.

Understanding Gender lays the groundwork for students to begin learning about gender from the biological as well as psychological, sociological and legal standpoints. It touches on bullying and stereotypes, and covers the importance of having, and being, an ally for those struggling with any type of gender issue. A highlight is the summarizing “what you can do” section at the end of the program. In short, it succeeds in introducing the terminology and presenting a well-rounded foundation for further classroom discussion. A pdf Teacher’s Guide accompanies the video.