Book: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Publisher: Lion Forge
Publication date: 2019
Source: print book borrowed from the library
Summary: Maia Kobabe struggles to fit in both the gender and sexuality boxes that society wants to shove people into. Maia’s parents didn’t push gender roles, so there was some freedom to explore, at least at home. As these things do, everything got more complicated at puberty.
In Gender Queer, Maia tells a coming-of-age story that leads to a nonbinary, asexual identity using the Spivak pronouns of e/em/eir. Those are new to me, but the Wikipedia article is helpful and makes them sound like a fun intersection of gender-neutrality and nerdiness.
Thoughts: I read Gender Queer to get a better understanding of young people I encounter. Mostly, I know just enough to keep my mouth shut — both to not display my ignorance and to avoid unkindness. But that stopped far short of being able to imagine the challenges and liberations of tackling identity when binary boxes (female/male, gay/straight) seem too limiting. I’m all for busting out of boxes, so I loved learning Maia’s story.
Appeal: Gender Queer topped the list of banned books in 2021. I went several pages past the infamous image that is shown, out of context, to brand this book as too sexually explicit. I had to turn back to figure out what all the fuss was. In context, the reader goes right past because it’s not what a brief glance might make someone think it is and it’s all part of a much more interesting story about exploring one’s sexuality.
This is a book for anyone who is old enough to understand and think about the mechanics of sex. But that’s the least interesting part of the story. Read Gender Queer if you’re interested in how to navigate to a nuanced identity, either for yourself or others.
At age 60, I’m bored with navigating my identity and very glad to be past my 20s when it felt vital. Still, I’ve found reason to be grateful for expanded opportunities of gender expression in recent years. In particular, I stopped carrying a purse and started wearing boxers. Both changes had an outsized impact on my happiness. So, I encourage everyone to think outside the box.
Challenges: This is my third book for the Diversity Reading Challenge.
Have you read this book? What did you think?