For years, Lourdes Rivas’ elementary school students asked them why they went by the word “maestre.” Rivas – who uses they/them pronouns – would then explain what non-binary meant, but not in an in-depth manner. This inspired them to write They Call Me Mix/Me Llaman Maestre, a bilingual book based on Rivas’ life that teaches young children about gender pronouns and how the gender binary doesn’t encapsulate everyone.
While in English, Rivas can identify as they, in Spanish, it’s a whole different story. Spanish tends to lean masculine. For example, if there’s a group of 99 women of Latin American descent and one man of the same group joins them, they’ll collectively be called Latino. And then, there’s also people like Rivas, who do not identify as either she or he. For both these cases, people have adopted words like Latin@, Latinx, and Latine. Rivas uses terms that use the @, X, and E throughout their book to show the “variety of forms of dismantling the binary in Spanish.”
In an Oakland North feature written by Jessica Alvarenga, Rivas explains that they believe the book is an accessible way for parents to teach their children about these concepts at a young age. “A lot of people say they’re too young to have these conversation,” they said. “I think about my mom and how she had her way of doing things because she didn’t know any better. But now she does because she’s experiencing it with me and she’s trying her best to use the correct pronouns.”
The book is due for a December 26 release. But Rivas has worked on the project since at least 2017 when they launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the cost of publishing. They ended up raising $12,545, which allowed Rivas to partner with Breena Nuñez, an Afro-Latinx cartoonist. Rivas plans to use the book in their own classroom.
Pre-order They Call Me Mix here.