By Teagan Durkin || Staff Writer
An intricately sketched conch shell slowly consuming the author within their own conflicted identity. A burgundy snake uncomfortably tearing its dead skin away as it attempts to grow into its new form. A rainbow of acceptance splashed across a bright yellow background that symbolizes acceptance from others and, most importantly, of oneself.
Maia Kobabe wrote Gender Queer as a way to both process eir’s identity in graphic novel form, and create an accessible instructional manual for both parents of non-binary children and non-binary individuals themselves. Kobabe uses Spivak pronouns (for example, “Aske em what e wants in eir tea,” (Gender Queer), and first developed eir’s book through smaller cartoon panels posted to Instagram. When Kobabe had the opportunity for a book deal, e then converted the panels into a full-length graphic memoir.
Avoiding the sin of spoilers (go read Gender Queer yourself!), Gender Queer follows Kobabe’s journey as a non-binary individual from childhood to the present-day, and earnestly emphasizes the growth, struggles, and triumphs e has had regarding eir identity. Kobabe actually hosted a virtual author Q&A with F&M’s Philadelphia Alumni Writer’s House a few weeks ago. Nic Kozell ‘23 hosted the Q&A at Professor Sherin-Wright’s encouragement, and skillfully created an accepting environment to foster thoughtful questions and discussion. For Nic, a stand-out section of the book was the similarities between their own experiences and Kobabe’s regarding David Bowie’s song “Changes.”
Want to further understand this reference? Go read Gender Queer!
Also, along with discussing eir’s creative process, e took the time to address the elephant in the room regarding Gender Queer; that is, the fact that Gender Queer was the most banned book in 2021. This banning is tied to several misunderstandings perpetuated by select individuals who have never read the book but feel comfortable making broad assumptions based on a single page. As any F&M professor will kindly instruct their students, “It’s obvious when you don’t read the material.” Kobabe’s book is more than just a single page: it is a beacon of hope and acceptance to non-binary and LGBTQIA+ individuals; it is a masterfully drawn graphic memoir; and Gender Queer deserves to be known as so much more than just the most banned book in America.
Freshman Teagan Durkin is a Staff Writer. Her email is email@example.com.