The most banned book in America! Worth reading just for that reason, I suppose, especially for anyone with a touch of oppositional defiance. Read GENDER QUEER because Fuck Reactionaries, right?
A friend gave me this book three days before I had top surgery. Weird experience to read it, actually. Almost, in some ways, like someone wrote a biography of me, and illustrated it and everything. Except of course Kobabe's life followed eir own path, and e is a very different person than I am in almost every way... but we share that central thing. The Gender Struggle.
I don't love talking about The Gender Struggle, for a lot of reasons. I don't like other people to think I'm struggling, for one. And I don't want other people to be going around thinking about my gender, or worse, my body. I have mined my personal history for content as much as the next writer, but I'm still a private person.
Lack of talking about it makes it more difficult to resolve the Struggle, of course. I've made it to middle age; I've got my shit mostly figured out; I know how to persuade an insurance company that I'm worthy of very expensive surgery, even. Mostly I'm intensely aware that I'm surrounded by people who DON'T have me figured out, and who feel awkward about that, and I have no desire to walk them through all my tender little weirdnesses. I don't like to explain myself anymore than anyone does! And there are a lot of things that are hard to communicate to people who don't have a frame of reference for them.
But I had top surgery right at the end of 2023, and have been recovering. It's a strange thing, to be physically debilitated--weak, in pain, nauseous, bleeding and goopy and scabby--and also be so full of joy. Like you've been wearing a heavy, uncomfortable pack your whole life, and you always told yourself it was fine, you could cope with it, and you could, because you're strong and have developed good coping skills. It was heavy, but it was fine. But then someone lifted it off of you and cut it away and dropped it in the trash and you just--don't have to carry it anymore. You can stand up straight.
Even still, talking about it, I want to use the nonspecific 'you' as a way of directing your attention away from my own physical, smelly, scabby body. If you saw me in person, though, you'd be able to tell. So. Basically what I'm saying is, I have a list of people I'm going to lend this book to. If I ever meet Kobabe, I'm going to shake eir hand and thank em. E is incredibly brave; writing this book--and then publishing it--was incredibly generous of em.