What the book is about: This memoir, written in the form of a graphic novel, takes readers along author Maia Kobabe’s journey from adolescence into adulthood, navigating confusing questions about sexuality and gender identity. Ultimately, Kobabe comes out as gender nonbinary and asexual, adopting the gender-neutral pronouns e, em and eir. Throughout the story, Kobabe struggles with crushes, dating and figuring out who e is attracted to and why. E evolves from presenting as a girl to presenting as somewhere between the genders. Kobabe also faces painful moments connected to eir own body, such as menstruation and Pap smears. But the story ends in joy, with family and friends accepting Kobabe, as e finds happiness in eir own skin.
Why critics object: The book, which has faced an enormous number of challenges, includes graphic sexual scenes depicting masturbation, a sex toy and oral sex, as well as depictions of menstrual blood and Kobabe’s fantasizing about having a penis. Critics 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.”
Excerpt: “Why am I like this??? Sometimes I feel like my sexuality is broken and my gender is broken. I feel like there are all these wires in my brain which were supposed to connect body to gender identity and sexuality. But they’ve all been twisted into a huge snarled mess.”