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Maia Kobabe's graphic novel/memoir 'Gender Queer' is getting a lot of attention partly because it's getting banned and partly because TRAs view it as helpful to people trying to understand gender ideology. I just finished reading it, making an effort to keep an open mind, and have to say I found it most unhelpful.

The only fully fleshed-out character in the book is the author. Everyone else seems to be a prop in her voyage of self discovery. When the enby protagonist's aunt says she feels like trans ideology is deeply misogynistic, the protagonist is horrified. What she offers: 'I can't explain why it's not misogynistic, it's just not. I may never be able to explain why.' (This helps skeptics understand how, exactly?)

At another point, the mother, exhausted from being taken to task for forgetting to use her adult daughter's new made-up pronouns throws up her hands and says, 'why are you doing this to us?' The protagonist feels terrible, but has no answer for her, other than 'you'll get used to it.'

She is only happy when she's affirmed, and it's bizarre how she portrays herself as GLOWING with happiness when it happens. It doesn't matter what the affirmers think or feel when they're affirming, only that they do it.

The book makes the author seem like a combination of more ordinary than she thinks, child-like, narcissistic and mentally ill. It was a depressing read and made me feel hopeless, because this is entrenched culture for people her age now--it makes perfect sense to them, and that's why they can't see that this book won't help people who aren't already on board understand anything but that their enby loved one is extremely emotionally fragile and needs to be handled as gently as if she were an egg, no matter how irritating it might be to do so.

The big missing piece of the picture is other people--the greater social context. The author wants to wrap society around her like a cape, so she and her needs are centered. She doesn't want to understand people who disagree with her, only to have them understand her as she prefers to be understood. She wants people to respond to what she wants from them but doesn't really care about what they want from her. Pretty depressing stuff. The artwork is good though.

I'm going to go read 'Fun Home' now as a palate cleanser.

Maia Kobabe's graphic novel/memoir 'Gender Queer' is getting a lot of attention partly because it's getting banned and partly because TRAs view it as helpful to people trying to understand gender ideology. I just finished reading it, making an effort to keep an open mind, and have to say I found it most unhelpful. The only fully fleshed-out character in the book is the author. Everyone else seems to be a prop in her voyage of self discovery. When the enby protagonist's aunt says she feels like trans ideology is deeply misogynistic, the protagonist is horrified. What she offers: 'I can't explain why it's not misogynistic, it's just not. I may never be able to explain why.' (This helps skeptics understand *how*, exactly?) At another point, the mother, exhausted from being taken to task for forgetting to use her adult daughter's new made-up pronouns throws up her hands and says, 'why are you doing this to us?' The protagonist feels terrible, but has no answer for her, other than 'you'll get used to it.' She is only happy when she's affirmed, and it's bizarre how she portrays herself as GLOWING with happiness when it happens. It doesn't matter what the affirmers think or feel when they're affirming, only that they do it. The book makes the author seem like a combination of more ordinary than she thinks, child-like, narcissistic and mentally ill. It was a depressing read and made me feel hopeless, because this is entrenched culture for people her age now--it makes perfect sense to them, and that's why they can't see that this book won't help people who aren't already on board understand anything but that their enby loved one is extremely emotionally fragile and needs to be handled as gently as if she were an egg, no matter how irritating it might be to do so. The big missing piece of the picture is other people--the greater social context. The author wants to wrap society around her like a cape, so she and her needs are centered. She doesn't want to understand people who disagree with her, only to have them understand her as she prefers to be understood. She wants people to respond to what she wants from them but doesn't really care about what they want from her. Pretty depressing stuff. The artwork is good though. I'm going to go read 'Fun Home' now as a palate cleanser.

24 comments

'I can't explain why it's not misogynistic, it's just not. I may never be able to explain why.'

That is fucking ridiculous--aside from the absurdity of not being able to explain what you think, this is a person writing a BOOK about this idea. If you're literally writing a book, to communicate an idea, it's kind of in the definition that you have to actually explain it.

"If you're literally writing a book"

Right?? It's not like she didn't have time to think it through and clarify her thoughts. Given the normal publishing schedule she probably had at least 18 months to think about it, articulate it, refine her statement, refine it some more...

But, no.

Really good point. It's one thing to be caught by surprise when someone asks, or demands, that you explain yourself, or for someone to question a belief of yours that you haven't fully articulated/thought through before, or even to be assigned a 'side' in a debate or something; she has actually chosen to invest time and effort into creating a product, that she's been paid for, about this specific topic, and she can't be bothered to actually express herself.

"she can't be bothered to actually express herself"

I almost wonder if she's purposely telling on herself. She's admitting that she can't explain why it's not misogynistic, and that she "may never be able to explain."

The only reason a person who is living right in the thick of an issue, and writing about that issue, "can't explain" a key point about that issue would be because every explanation she's come up with so far is incoherent and logically untenable.

I mean we're not talking about a subjective matter of personal taste here ("I can't explain why I like chocolate and hate country music"). We're talking about a social issue.

"I have an opinion about a social issue. However, I can't explain why this opinion makes sense. I may never be able to explain" -- that translates to, "I've tried to explain it but it turns out it's nonsense. However, maintaining this opinion is very important to me, so I'm going to stick with it anyway."

She is only happy when she's affirmed, and it's bizarre how she portrays herself as GLOWING with happiness when it happens. It doesn't matter what the affirmers think or feel when they're affirming, only that they do it.

Can we stop acting like this is ducking normal? Like you shouldn’t feel special or glowy to be called a pronoun. Like, it’s just a term used as a placeholder for your name. Like, it’s not supposed to make or break your life.

[–] Inez 22 points

Thanks for reading and sharing. This was a great review. I was particularly struck by how well you summed up not only the author, but the culture they are creating around themselves. It does feel hopeless trying to navigate the selfishness and entitlement of these very privileged people.

"The big missing piece of the picture is other people--the greater social context. The author wants to wrap society around her like a cape, so she and her needs are centered. She doesn't want to understand people who disagree with her, only to have them understand her as she prefers to be understood. She wants people to respond to what she wants from them but doesn't really care about what they want from her." >

[–] Lipsy i/just/can't 10 points

Yup. Perfect succinct summary of why the navel-gazing solipsistic TQ+ doesn't belong with the pro-social, relationship-oriented LGB—with a powerful indictment of the whole #nodebate bullshit thrown in for good measure.

[–] SecondWaver 17 points Edited

She doesn't want to understand people who disagree with her, only to have them understand her as she prefers to be understood.

The big missing piece of the picture is other people--the greater social context.

She doesn't want to understand people who disagree with her, only to have them understand her as she prefers to be understood.

Solipsism. Most trans people are like this.

It was a depressing read and made me feel hopeless, because this is entrenched culture for people her age now--it makes perfect sense to them, and that's why they can't see that this book won't help people who aren't already on board understand anything

This is how I often feel reading comments and online posts of the younger generation and pro-trans communities in general. Thanks for taking a look, I've only seen those few panels that are pretty explicit, being shared to point out why it's not crazy to object to it being in a section for 10 year olds... I didn't have much of a sense of the overall artistic merit to begin with.

But yeah, I definitely know that feeling of losing hope. So many honestly seem to be living in a very self-centered world, where they are focused on what they deserve - and somehow on what other people deserve only in terms of what categories they belong to but not a real interactive understanding of human discourse or exchange. There are rules about not causing offense, to oneself or others, but on such an abstract level that it can hardly be equated with what someone undergoes when they're actually hurt or traumatized. It must be very confusing managing real emotions and also these theoretical responses , and maybe they are barely allowed to even develop real emotions anymore - it's almost like a new set of "etiquette" that bars real connection from taking place.

I don't think the book was written for us, I think it was written for people like her. She's going for that, "she gets me" moment. I'm not sure why anyone would say the book was informative. I guess it could inform parents that their daughters is completely closed-off to any arguments, and won't respond to anything but affirmation. Sometimes parents will swallow their words and fall in line when they don't even believe in it. They don't want the child to be a stranger, to cut them out of their life.

An author wrote a book to articulate an idea, fails to articulate that idea, excuses self that she CAN’T articulate it, but demands we trust her on it.

Hmmm….

I don’t think this book should be banned. It provides a good example of failure, not just in writing, but in the whole ideology, in the whole movement, in the character. It’s a good learning tool to show that just a little critical thinking can find truth.

Book sales of Gender Queer must be very good at this point but previously it never made it to the bestseller list. Confusing and dull at the same time. Maia, enby, sees a penis as power and is aroused by the idea of having one. She enjoins her partner to perform fellatio on a rubber or leather dildo. When Maia wants to be serviced her partner is at her beck and call.

My other objection is that Maia advises children to get puberty blockers as early as possible. Since the two most prominent pediatric associations in the US have now stated that this is far from the optimal way to deal with children/teens who have gender dysphoria Maia is providing false medical advice.

If libraries were willing to provide and even post information about why certain books are considered controversial this might tamp down some of the objections, but libraries seem to be locked into "right wingers and religious fantics" have tried to censor this book. Nothing beyond that fact that it won several ALA awards is permitted.

Thanks for the summary.

The author wants to wrap society around her like a cape, so she and her needs are centered.

This is like an entire 1.5 - 2 generations of youth. At the point people started talking about "my truth" instead of "the truth" or "lived experience" started trumping knowledge and research (while same people are vociferously proclaiming that "anecdata is not data" -- indeed if kids these days have one great talent or native ability it is compartmenting their brains to nullify cognitive dissonance) is basically when this kind of infection really had a chance to gain widespread traction in society.

I don't think it's a coincidence that it ties with a rise in parenting methods where the child gets turned into the absolute center of the universe, where her/his parents try desperately to foster a 'friend' relationship. Parents who are so eager to be anti-authoritarian they inadvertently made their children the authorities. Even for kids who aren't raised that way, they know kids who were and the attitude is contagious. And when they become adults, they still tend to have those doormat/enabling parents wrapped around their fingers, trying to be 'supportive' no matter what, watching their children becoming shrieking lunatics who take responsibility for nothing, demand everything, eagerly throw them on the pyre they're dreaming up in online conversations as part of the old bad world that needs to be cleansed...and say things like 'Isn't it wonderful that (child) is so socially conscious?'

This observation is spot on. I remembering wondering back in the '00s when these little hellions were running around unsupervised in bars and fancy restaurants, what the outcome was going to be.

Thank you for doing this. I 1) have not wanted to give the author/publisher my money and 2) kill the brain cells.

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