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Ages 16+ | Gender Queer: A Memoir (Lion Forge)

Gender Queer: A Memoir
Published by: Lion Forge
Written by: Maia Kobabe
Illustrated by: Maia Kobabe
Colors by: Phoebe Kobabe
ISBN: 9781549304002
Ages: 13+

Review

“Having a nonbinary or trans teacher in junior high would have meant the world to me.”

- Maia Kobabe -

After writing this column for nearly ten years, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe is going down on my top ten favorite graphic novel list of all time! 

Centered on educating everyone (most especially parents, families, librarians, students and teachers, and even higher education professors) Kobabe explains gender and gender identity in the 21st century in both a uniquely personal and an extremely resourceful manner.

As an out lesbian who grew up during a different time than Kobabe and faced many similar discriminatory and/or uninformed people and their thoughts on how I expressed my gender identity both personally and professionally, I’ve struggled for years internalizing all of the names I’ve been called, employers who have discriminated against me, family who have asked me if I am “now going transgender because that’s the new fad,” strangers clearly talking about and pointing at me in public, and my most frequent experience: Being pushed out (sometimes gently and sometimes with aggressive force) of women’s restrooms all over the world. I guess most people think I don’t belong there. But I do belong there.  

In fact, Kobabe, myself, and every single person on this planet each deserve the same rights to live lives full of happiness and peace, and more importantly, on the respective terms we individually feel best express who we are both inside and outside.  

By tracing eir own childhood, teenage, college, grad school, and career experiences with gender identity, Kobabe presents a vulnerable and informative look at emself and society.  Sharing eir literary explorations on gender identity throughout eir life, Kobabe actually ends up generously offering eir readers a resource list focused on how to understand gender identity in the 21st century.

Note: Be sure to keep a notebook nearby as you read because Kobabe’s resources will inspire you to take notes as well.

Here’s a sneak peak of one of the most critical points Kobabe teaches readers of Gender Queer:  After literally spending eir childhood years and into eir adulthood self-reflecting and studying gender identity and how e fits within gender studies Kobabe explains why e has chosen the pronouns that e best identifies with: e, em, and eir. 

The most personal autobiography I’ve ever read, Kobabe gracefully and honestly tackles some of the toughest topics regarding gender and self-identity, giving educators a literary autobiography that will surely help every human being (both living now and for generations to come) better understand how gender identity and self-discovery are key to healing some of the angst and hurt that have come from countless years of misunderstandings. 

Elements of Story

Plot: Since childhood Maia Kobabe has thought about, reflected upon, and decided on which pronouns e prefers and would like to educate other’s about.

Major Characters: Maia, Maia’s mom, Maia’s dad, Phoebe, Rebecca, Brownen, Galen, Alexandra, David, Autumn, Toby, AJ, Fish, Rae, gynecologists, Ashley, Maia’s love interests, Melanie Gillman, Amila, Jaina Bee, Shari, Michael, Patricia Churchland, Josh, Faith

Major Settings: California, San Francisco, home, school, college, library

Themes: Identity, Coming of Age, Transformation and Growth, Relationships, Education, Terminology 

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the Common Core Standards (CCS) for Young Adults

Common Core Standard(s)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Directions for Lesson Plan

In order to analyze all of the complexities Kobabe experiences throughout eir life in Gender Queer, readers should keep track of the time periods e shares (first column), questions e struggles with during those times (second column), the resources and/or people who help eir answer eir questions about gender and self-identity (third column), Kobabe’s ultimate thoughts on how those questions and the people and/or resources have or have not helped eir answer them (fourth column), and, finally, what readers have learned from reading about Kobabe’s experiences (fifth column).

Time Period Maia's Questions Maia's Resources/People  What Readers Have Learned from Maia’s Experiences: From Eir Questions, Eir Resources & People, and Eir Ultimate Thoughts
Childhood & Young Adult

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
College 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Grad School

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Adulthood & Career