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Tomboy Survival Guide

Tomboy Survival Guide

By Ivan Coyote
Categories: Biography & Memoir, Social Issues, LGBTQ+, Trans Literature
Paperback : 9781551526560, 256 pages, 2016
Read Excerpt (PDF)


Shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust of Canada Prize for Nonfiction; Longlisted for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction; Stonewall Book Award Honor Book winner; Longlisted for Canada Reads

Ivan Coyote is a celebrated storyteller and the author of ten previous books, including Gender Failure (with Rae Spoon) and One in Every Crowd, a collection for LGBT youth. Tomboy Survival Guide is a funny and moving memoir told in stories, about how they learned to embrace their tomboy past while carving out a space for those of us who don't fit neatly into boxes or identities or labels.

Ivan writes about their years as a young butch, dealing with new infatuations and old baggage, and life as a gender-box-defying adult, in which they offer advice to young people while seeking guidance from others. (And for tomboys in training, there are even directions on building your very own unicorn trap. )

Tomboy Survival Guide warmly recounts Ivan's past as a diffident yet free-spirited tomboy, and maps their journey through treacherous gender landscapes and a maze of labels that don't quite stick, to a place of self-acceptance and an authentic and personal strength.


  • Long-listed, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature 2017
  • Long-listed, BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction 2016
  • Short-listed, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust of Canada for Nonfiction 2017
  • Winner, Stonewall Book Award Honor Book 2017


Speaking for those who have had 'difference squeezed or pounded or prayed' out of them and of being 'trapped in a world that makes very little space for bodies like mine,' Coyote is by turn eloquent, provocative, and persuasive. -Vancouver Sun

Coyote is poetic in their phrasing and plain spoken with their truths. -EDGE Media Network

An emotionally powerful memoir by a great storyteller about normal life. -The Globe and Mail

A wryly confessional memoir . .. by turns raw, bittersweet, and funny. -Publishers Weekly