What the book is about: This memoir, written in the form of a graphic novel, takes readers on author Maia Kobabe’s journey from adolescence to adulthood, navigating confusing questions about sexuality and gender identity. Ultimately, Kobabe emerges as gender non-binary and asexual, adopting the gender-neutral pronouns e, em, and eir. Throughout the story, Kobabe struggles with having a crush, dating someone, and figuring out who he’s attracted to and why. E evolves from presenting as a girl to presenting as somewhere between the sexes. Kobabe also deals with painful moments related to his own body, such as menstruation and pap smears. But the story ends happily, with family and friends accepting Kobabe, as we find happiness in our own skin.
Why Critics Oppose It: The book, which faced an enormous number of challenges, includes graphic sex scenes depicting masturbation, a sex toy, and oral sex, as well as depictions of menstrual blood and Kobabe’s fantasy of having a penis. Reviewers note that the discussion and drawings about sex are not fleeting but are woven into the story, and they argue that the book is “pornographic”.
Extract: “Why am I like this??? Sometimes I feel like my sexuality is broken and my sex is broken. I feel like there’s all these wires in my brain that were supposed to linking the body to gender identity and sexuality, but they’ve all been twisted into a huge, rumbling mess.