A closeup of multiple trans and pride flags.

Students share reflections on gender in book

March 9, 2023
Author: Rachel Stern

Sociology class publishes book together

For the first time at VIU, a sociology class has written and published a book together. 

The students examined gender in their book Gender: Reflections and Intersections – a collaborative project for their Sociology 322 class. The 31 students each contributed two pieces: an academic article and one free-choice contribution that could be creative, such as:

  • art 
  • photography 
  • poetry or 
  • personal reflections on the subject. 

Dr. Vicki Nygaard, who teaches the course, says a sociology class has never written a book as a project before. The process allowed for a unique learning experience for the students.

“I am committed to experiential learning. I feel like this book was such a powerful way to learn, experience and work collaboratively,” says Vicki. “This allowed us to build a community in the classroom and work on collaborative, creative projects together. It also allowed people to excel in their own areas of interest.”

The book was published through BCcampus with the help of VIU’s Anwen Burk, a Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialist with the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning. The book is available to read online at the BCcampus website.

During a launch event in December, 12 students spoke about the process of creating the book and shared excerpts from their pieces. Here are two of those reflections: 

Creating the cover – Eva Rutzebeck (she/they)

Book cover that says Gender:Reflections and Intersections with drawings of people in various shades of purple.

Eva used Clip Studio Paint to create the image and says it took about 15 hours over the course of a few days to complete.  

“I wanted to make a piece that represented the spectrum of gender and gender presentation as well as the context of the book and the feelings someone might be having when they learn about gender as a more complex and nuanced topic,” says Eva. “I wanted to illustrate a diverse group of people in terms of gender and race, which was a little challenging given the colour choices I made, but I hope that I did a good job.”

Eva selected the colours based on the trans and non-binary pride flags and selected pink, blue and purple as the base colours. They used different shades of these base colours in the image, which Eva says was intentional and an homage to the fact that the book is about gender. They wanted to use colours people choose to represent themselves with.

“Purple was specifically chosen as a centrepiece colour because it can represent the spectrum inside and outside of the binary,” says Eva. “It’s not just pink and blue. We have many other shades inside and outside those two binary options, which I think is part of what this book is going to teach people about gender, its complexities and the varied spectrum of experiences with interconnecting different issues.”

Gender identity and expression in early childhood education settings – TK Hannah (they/he)


TK’s academic contribution focuses on gender identity and expression in the field of early childhood education. TK says the gender-expansive practice is a new and growing area of study. TK says the practice features gender-affirming practices which try to prevent discrimination from happening rather than just intervening when discrimination occurs. 

Since the introduction of gender identity and gender expression in the human rights code, TK says early childhood organizations have been “grappling” with their legal duty to provide safe spaces for children of diverse gender identities and gender expressions. He outlines common approaches educators use to create safe spaces for children with different gender identities and expressions, which they break down into three categories – red light, green light and yellow light. 

Red light practices maintain cisnormativity. TK’s example of this is an educator redirecting a boy wearing a dress, telling him to wear a skirt instead, so his gender expression fits inside masculinity norms because “men in Scotland wear kilts.”

TK says some common approaches are yellow light, which might seem good but are troubled. 

“Many children’s books that feature gender-expansive children have victim narratives that portray trans kids as prone to bullying and suicide. They are portrayed as isolated or cut off from loved ones,” says TK. “They don’t show the whole picture. This leads to transgender kids having their stories and their realities portrayed in an inferior light.”

Green light are best practices that recognize things such as children’s gender agency. 

“Gender agency means that children can tell us as adults what they understand their gender to be as well as not assuming that they are transgender, cisgender. It is just allowing them to follow where they want to go,” says TK.

Aidan Brot

Destiny Davidson

Hayes Evans

Samantha Furneaux 

Gallant, Sydney 

Angela Goerz

Marshall Hagel 

TK Hannah

Eden Hatch 

Inara Hirani 

Stori Jensen-Granger

Jared Keim 

Caitlin Kellendonk 

Maven Laberge

Emma Lachman 

Rayel MacLean 

Breeanna McCallum-Miller

Madeline McIntyre 

Heather Nalezyty

Katie Near 

Zoe Paine

Eli Parker 

Thomas Roden 

Eva Rutzebeck 

David Schneider

Tara-Fay Sedar 

Meagan Sharpe 

Kendall Smith 

Jenna Sportak 

Maya Stinert 

Jessica Underwood


Book cover that says Gender: Reflections and Intersections. It has images of multiple people in various shades of purple and a blue and and pink person at the sides.

Gender: Reflections and Intersections, book cover

Illustration by Eva Rutzebeck.

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