Gender Queer details the complicated journey of discovering who you are amidst a sea of expected gender norms and societal pressures. The author, Maia Kobabe, tells eir story with detail, leaving nothing out as e navigates the struggles of eir youth and what it’s like to grow up knowing you’re different from your peers. Kobabe has created an incredibly honest, deeply moving work that is sure to provide a helping hand for those struggling on their own journeys, in need of support from someone with the same experiences.
This is graphic memoir at its finest. Kobabe doesn’t hold back, detailing every moment when e didn’t fit in with eir surroundings. The storytelling is done flawlessly, detailing what it means to discover you don’t fit into one of two societal gender boxes and how complicated that understanding becomes. The path isn’t clear cut as Kobabe spends years trying to figure out who e’s attracted to, what eir sex life should look like, and whether relationships are even something e wants. You feel eir conflicting emotions every step of the way, from heartbreak to anxiety to an eventual acceptance and unmitigated joy when everything clicks into place and the world makes sense.
The artwork is exceptional, which comes as no surprise given the exceptional talent and professional experience Kobabe details throughout the work. The panels illustrate every truth of this journey and it creates a bond between reader and writer. I feel like I know em and have a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of gender queer people.
Overall, Gender Queer is an essential guide to becoming your truest self and learning to live with yourself, no matter what other people may think. You are the only you you’ll ever know, and being the most you version of yourself is what matters. It’s an important lesson to learn, no matter what stage of life you’re in, and Kobabe teaches it beautifully.
If you want to learn more about gender pronouns, I did a bit of research before writing this article. Kobabe uses the Spivak pronouns as detailed near the end of the novel. For further reading:
- Wikipedia is a good place to start – there’s a chart that’s easy to use: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spivak_pronoun
- The Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog also has a helpful chart and background information: https://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/tag/spivak/
- Finally, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has a helpful guide that details pronouns and has an FAQ section for those new to pronouns: https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
By Maia Kobabe
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