In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity--what it means and how to think about it--for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
This is honestly fantastic. It describes the author's journey from being assigned female at birth and having crushes on both boys and girls, to learning terms like bi and trans, and
Kobabe's graphic memoir explores their experience with and confusion about gender from early childhood through adulthood, and it is *amazing*. Just stunningly crafted, gentle, and honest. I wasn't going to read this (in a quiet sort of "I'm probably good; I can pass that one
I was a bit taken aback by quite how honest this book was
The book was, in fact, very easy to read. I read the entire book in one sitting. The information was clearly organized, the artwork (with the coloring done by the author's sister) was attractive, and the supportive embrace of the graphic novel's content was completely there.
It's a little explicit in places, such as
That's enough of that. My opinion of the book itself, outside of the whole political thing, was that it was very good and quite compelling. I think it could be a big boon for young (or older!) non-cis people who don't often see their own questions and concerns represented in literature. The author didn't differentiate between bisexuality and biromanticism, which I thought would have been an interesting road to explore; surely, if e came across autoandrophilia, e had to have come across the differences between sexual and romantic orientations and made eir own assessment of that, but that's just me being curious.
Because of Twitter. Because I'm not a fan of banning books, and this title
I'm glad I did. This is not a book about disgusting porn, or "men having sex with boys," as the tweet-troll tried to convince me. It's an honest memoir about a person who grew up with a lot of questions. The book is honest about those questions. The author exposes their soul.
Does it present answers for our youth about the topic in question? Not entirely, but that's not what the book is about. The book is about struggling with identity through your young years, and it gives readers the satisfaction of knowing that they are not alone, that the questions they have, the awkwardness they feel, is a normal thing. The book opens the door for potentially meaningful discussion, if you find your kids wanting to read it. That's only a bad thing for parents who don't want to be part of the conversation, in my opinion.
I appreciated the inclusion of eir family's different reactions to an identity that is pushing against the norms even more so than transgender identities seem to. The final few panels, when e was teaching children about comics and realizing e could be that representation for the next generation was so powerful - it was a bit of a meta moment holding the book that could possibly spread that representation farther than eir individual classrooms. (Hopefully I used the Spivak pronouns correctly).
This book answered so many questions for me. It is a memoir of someone who struggled for so long with their identity, but more than that, it helps other people see into their brain and
Thank you to Oni Press and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.
Unfortunately, GENDER QUEER has come under fire from multiple conservative fronts recently, with some government officials in Virginia going so far as to not only trying to ban it from schools and libraries, but to make it illegal for bookstores to sell the book, and to make it illegal for residents to even own the book. Why? Because this book speaks openly and beautifully about the possibility of being different from the “norm” and showing that the gender binary is an absurd notion. It’s frightening to me to see this level of hatred for those of us who are different, which makes it even more important for us to raise up books like this and pioneers like Maia Kobabe, so that our younger generations of queers know that they are not alone and that they have a place in this world.
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This deluxe edition features an introduction by ND Stevenson, an afterword from Kobabe, and some pages from Kobabe’s notebook, sketchbook, penciled pages, and inked pages to show eir creative process. In their introduction, Stevenson writes, “Seeing yourself in the world, knowing that you’re not alone, that you could actually have a future as yourself – it’s lifesaving. My parents worked hard to make sure I couldn’t find those positive portrayals. But that censorship didn’t make me not queer… I can only imagine what it would have meant to find Gender Queer on the shelf as a child on one of those secret solo missions to the library. I can see my nine-year-old self obsessively poring over each page and realizing, I’m not broken. I’m not wrong. I’m not alone” (pg. 4). In eir afterword, Kobabe focuses on the positive reception to the book’s first printing, how it empowered people to open up to others and be themselves. The inclusion of notes and sketches from eir creative process feels like further encouragement following eir suggestion to readers to write their own memoirs.