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.
“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
Awards & Honors
- 2021 Chicago Public Schools’ Great Graphic Novels List
- 2021 Garden State Teen Book Awards
- 2021 Iowa High School Battle of the Books
- 2021 Jefferson County (KY) Public Schools Recommended Reading Grades 9-12
- 2021 School Library Journal 17 Immersive Graphic Novels for Teens, Summer Reading
- 2020 – 2021 Denver Public Schools Top 100 for High Schools
- 2020 ALA Rainbow Project Book List
- 2020 Best Graphic Novels for Teens List from YALSA
- 2020 Texas Library Association Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List
- 2019 Howard County Public Schools (MD) Best of the Year – High School
- 2019 Ignatz Award
- 2019 New York Public Library’s 50 Best Books for Teens
“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
- Pop Culture Classroom
- Publisher’s Weekly
- School Library Journal
- The Comics Journal
- The Hub
- The Queer Review
Where is Gender Queer being challenged, or outright banned? Everywhere.
Wake County, North Carolina
- Books ruled controversial pulled from Wake County public libraries
- Community Groups Raise Concerns About Censorship Of Lgbtqia+ Affirming Book From Wake County Public Library, Publicize Support For Community Members
- Wake County librarians protest ‘Gender Queer’ book removal
- ‘Gender Queer’ back in Wake County Public Libraries as revisions being made to book removal process
Downers Grove, Illinois
- Proud Boys join effort to ban ‘Gender Queer’ book from school library — rattling students in suburban Chicago
Wayne, New Jersey
North Hunterdon, New Jersey
- Why some North Hunterdon parents want certain LGBTQ books removed from the school library
- N.J. high school board votes against recommendation to ban LGBTQ+ book
Across North America
- More examples from Iowa, Montana, New York and Pennsylvania as summarized by Rich Johson from Bleeding Cool.
Further Reading and Additonal Resources
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.
Victoria Rahbar is an early career web services librarian. She has a Master of Arts in East Asian Studies from Stanford University’s Center for East Asian Studies and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington iSchool. She conducts research on the global dissemination of Japanese anime, manga, and video games through a DEI lens. She applies her research to the needs of libraries, speaking on issues around cultural representation in manga at academic conferences and anime conventions. She is especially interested in how current digital publishing practices disrupt past ideas around censorship and challenges to manga.