Comic Memoir: GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR by Maia Kobabe, 2019, 9781549304002.
This memoir is the latest bugaboo by the fundamentalist far-right types. So I read it.
I thought the first half was boring and Kobabe's story telling was subpar. I took a break from the book. When I returned to read the second half I enjoyed it quite a bit more. I'm not sure why this was; it's possible I could understand more of Kobabe as she started writing about adolescence and adulthood. Maybe I was just in a better mood.
Anywho. Kobabe grows up in a hippy family - yeah, that's right, I called'em hippies - of four. She attends a Waldorf School (I had to look that up) and never quite fits into either gender. As a kid Kobabe wonders what it would be like to have a penis. Kobabe doesn't know about the girl stuff of her classmates like: conversation topics, shaving legs, make-up, so on, so forth. Kobabe feels out of place. Kobabe is attracted to androgyny but is mostly asexual. Kobabe's first menstrual cycle is a horror to her. Kobabe has gender dysmorphia and some things are just plain tough.
Things move on and Kobabe has a supportive family. She goes to college. She goes to grad school. Life moves on and she keeps working at figuring herself out. She understands this growth means no more use of pronouns like "she". But, Kobabe is not happy with other pronouns. Kobabe discovers Spivak pronouns of 'e, 'em, 'eir and is over-freaking-joyed to find something that fits. 'E starts using new pronouns and gets some pushback from family. Things work out with family. Kobabe is reluctant to correct people to call 'e 'e. Kobabe wants the new pronouns exclusively but
her 'e's temperament and personality is not one that will constantly correct and educate people. I get that. I also get confused about the possessives. I also get confused about using the apostrophe.
'E draws and writes an entire book about
her 'e's experiences so I presume 'e feels a lot more comfortable with 'em-self.
1. I stand by my earlier comment that the first half of the story was not as sharp. Kobabe's art and text are well paired. Kobabe doesn't skip over 'e's squeamish experiences about 'e's body and experiences. A very accessible look at transgender experience for people clueless about what others cope with.
2. Unless you're an asshole and trying to ban the book from schools and libraries.
3. Kobabe recommends TOUCHING A NERVE: THE SELF AS BRAIN by Patricia S. Churchland, 2013. The book brings great relief to 'e with 'e's thought bubbles, " So Lady Gaga was right - I was born this way. What a RELIEF."
4. I'm inclined to say "'E seems like a good kid." But, Kobabe is over thirty now. No longer a kid.
5. 'E seems like a good cartoonist.
6. I expect a push on Kobabe for a follow-up due to recent outrage and book success. From what Kobabe says, this was not an easy book for 'e to write. If there is a follow-up I presume it will take a while just because 'e likely needs to mentally process everything. Plus, the fact that writing a book takes time, time, time and 'e has a day job.
EDIT, June 23, 2022:
7. I got to thinking again about Spivak pronouns and how I like them better. Not my decision though.
EDIT: July 25, 2022.
Still having a heck of a time with the "they" pronoun. Especially when speaking of a group of people and then transitioning to speaking about a single member of the group using "they".
Also, I end up getting fairly ticked off when people - generally right-wing a-holes - make fun of pronoun preferences. If you're someone who use "they" you must get extra, super-special pissed off at times.