Gender Queer Most Challenged of 2021

Banned and Challenged Books, LGBTQIA+, School Libraries

Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir is 2021’s most challenged graphic novel. It is a graphic memoir about Maia Kobabe and eir meandering through the queer community where e finds not only companions but emselves. Kobabe wants the memoir to remain in our libraries. Youth, our readers, want Gender Queer to remain in our libraries. In that spirit, the following resources were curated to assist librarians addressing challenges to Gender Queer.

Illustration of comic creator Maia Kobabe saying “Please, leave the queer books on the library shelves”
© Maia Kobabe

“Queer youth are often forced to look outside their own homes, and outside the education system, to find information on who they are. Removing or restricting queer books in libraries and schools is like cutting a lifeline for queer youth, who might not yet even know what terms to ask Google to find out more about their own identities, bodies and health.” 

“Opinion: School districts are banning my book. But queer kids need stories.” By Maia Kobabe 

About the Creator

“Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area, California. Eir first full length book, Gender Queer: A Memoir, was published in May 2019. Maia’s short comics have been published by The Nib and in many anthologies including The Secret Loves Of Geeks, Faster Than Light Y’all, Gothic Tales Of Haunted Love, Shout Out, Advanced Death Saves, and Be Gay, Do Comics. Before setting out to work freelance full-time, e worked for over ten years in libraries. Eir work is heavily influenced by fairy tales, homesickness, and the search for identity.” – From the Publisher


“In the gorgeous and candid graphic memoir Gender Queer, e illustrates an aching journey toward reconciliation with being nonbinary and asexual.”

Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness

“Kobabe’s drawings, colored by sister Phoebe Kobabe, casts eir life and truths in splendorous, vivid light. And the relationship between the siblings on the page is one of Gender Queer‘s sweetest elements. Often scared of what lies ahead, Maia confides in Phoebe, a lesbian, about eir queer hopes and fears, and is met each time with the gracious enthusiasm of a sister who has eir back: “I lucked out so hard in the sibling lottery.” A challenging yet heartwarming memoir, Gender Queer succeeds on all fronts.” — Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness

gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Awards & Honors




“Kobabe’s path to understanding eir gender and sexuality comes into beautiful focus in this graphic memoir, expressively illustrated with retro colors and simple lines. Readers will recognize a kindred spirit in Kobabe and/or gain insight into what it’s like to identify outside of the cisgender/heterosexual ‘norm’.” — Booklist


Where is Gender Queer being challenged, or outright banned? Everywhere. 

Wake County, North Carolina

Downers Grove, Illinois

Wayne, New Jersey

Brevard, Florida

Hudson, Ohio

North Hunterdon, New Jersey

Across North America

Further Reading and Additonal Resources

Final Thoughts

Gender Queer will be challenged again. Libraries are for everyone; libraries are for queer youth. When we select books, comics, and other media about queer lived experiences, we are telling our youth they are safe here. We hear you; we recognize your labor in keeping Gender Queer in libraries, and only ask that that you share more stories with us by creating your own graphic memoirs. I want you to relive Kobabe’s experience of creating comics, having to explain that “An MFA in Comics is a real thing.” Let’s grow this collection together.

As always, please report any censorship occurring at your library.

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