In my experience, growing up trans or gender non-conforming is an extremely confusing experience. It feels like you missed a class where everyone was taught how to act and how to feel. No one tells you that there are more options than those that the norm seems to offer, that feeling different is ok, and that you are not alone. But thankfully, every day, more queer creators get to create works that let queer readers know that they are not alone and there are different ways to be you. Such is my case with Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.
Gender Queer is Maia Kobabe’s memoir, a non-binary comic creator. Throughout this memoir, Maia talks about eir experience with dysphoria, coming out, trying new ways to express emslef, sexuality, and trauma. Maia goes over everything, from the good things like moments of acceptance, bonding, and self-discovery, to the more difficult times, like fights with family, moments of self-doubt, and difficult medical examinations.
What I love most about Gender Queer is how honest it feels. At no moment did I feel that Maia was being exaggerated or dramatic. It always felt like a sincere look into eir life. It felt like I was having a conversation with Maia where e told me eir story in a beautiful way that managed to expose some really complex feelings in an easy way to understand. While there are some hard moments to swallow, and this book made me cry more than once, I never felt like I was being emotionally manipulated, it really felt like I was going through a book that captures the complexity of Maia’s story in the best way possible.
Maia’s art is beautiful in a really simple way that makes the more tense moments a little easier and gives the reader some wonderful metaphors to explain the complexity of some of the feelings that come with being gender non-conforming (the seed metaphor is especially strong and will remain with me for a long time). There is not one moment when this comic feels unwelcoming.
Probably the most outstanding thing this comic archives is balancing the extremely personal and subjective parts of Maia’s story with the almost universal aspect of any trans person’s life. This is a memoir (and a beautiful one at that), but it also is a great book to introduce ideas and experiences that will help a lot of people to understand trans identities, and even help some persons discover themselves.
I’m extremely thankful to Maia for sharing eir story and giving me a book where I can see myself and feel less alone. I would recomend Gender Queer to anyone who has been strugling with their gender identity or anyone trying to understan didentities outside of the norms. This is not a guide or an educational book, but a beautiful door into understanding and empathy, real proof of the importance of representation. I love that every day we get to be more visible, more present and more understood. Creators like Maia Kobabe are one of the reasons why.