Alex Gino

Alex Gino was born in Staten Island, New York. At the end of the 1990s, they (singular-they, as Gino is genderqueer, an identity outside the binary male/female distinction) had their coming-out in college. When Gino looked for books that positively reflected this, they found no relevant literature. Together with an interest in writing that they had already developed as a child, as well as a love of books for young people, this motivated them to write the book »George«, which went through countless versions during the ten years that it took to create, before it was finally published in 2015.

The titular figure is seen by his environment as a boy, while she considers herself a girl. For a school production of the children’s book »Wilbur and Charlotte«, George would like to take the latter role (a female spider), the request is refused with the explanation that George has the wrong gender for the role. With the help of her best friend Kelly, George then develops a plan by which she will not just play Charlotte but will show the whole world once and for all who she really is – in the form of Melissa, who at the end, during a visit to the zoo, wears girl’s clothing for the first time in public. Gino commented that it was never important for them to leave the reader with the message that things would turn out better, but rather to show that a coming-out could not be postponed and in addition to negative consequences could also evoke a positive response in people from whom one had least expected it. A similar decision also crystallised during the development of the novel, which initially was intended only to hint at the inner gender of the leading character until the second page, until Gino’s editor David Levithan suggested using female pronouns from the start. This reflected on the one hand Melissa’s self-image, but might also arouse a sense of unease in the reader when other characters continue to address her as a boy.

»George« received the Children’s Stonewall Award in 2016. Critics described the novel as modern, touching and »with refreshingly little fanfare« (»New York Times«), the sensitive portrait of a transgender child (»Booklist«) and compulsory reading for pupils of that age (»School Literary Journal«). While Gino was active in teaching before »George« was published, they is currently concentrating on writing a second book for young people, which is set close to San Francisco and will deal among other themes with deafness, police violence and first crush. Gino hopes that their work will encourage a change in culture, bringing about a more secure, inclusive world. They currently live in Oakland, California (USA).