Gender Queer seems to be banned primarily because the subject itself is objectionable to many straight people. The explicit, graphic drawings are also frequently cited.

Gender Queer banned

Gender Queer challenges and bans

Due to the fact that Gender Queer is the most challenged and banned book in the United States in 2023, it is hard to come up with a list of the individual challenges. Researchers give up in frustration because there are so many of them. The American Library Association reports they have been told of 151 separate challenges or bans so far. These are the most common reasons given.

  • Transsexual material.
  • Gender ideology propaganda.
  • Embracing trans ideology which is an assault on girls/women.
  • Pornography.

What are transgender pronouns?

Before reading this book it is helpful to get used to the pronouns preferred by many transgender people. The author of Gender Queer uses these pronouns throughout the book. The Spivak pronoun system is now generally preferred. This was derived from the earlier practice of transgender people referring to themselves in the plural, thereby encompassing male and female aspects.

The Spivak pronouns are compared to other systems here:

Masculine: he, him, his, himself

Feminine: she, her, hers, herself

Plural: they, them, their, themself

Elverson (1975): ey, em, eir, emself

Spivak (1983): e, em, eir

A look inside the book

Gender Queer is a remarkably frank and honest telling of what it’s like to grow up unsure of where you fit into the sexual scheme of things. Maia Kobabe lets us witness the touching and confusing moments e faced from adolescence through adulthood against the uncertain backdrop of a person caught between the male-female worlds.

I was in elementary school in the ’90s. Then I was in high school in the early 2000s, and there was a lot less representation, and there was a lot less people who were publicly out. And I just felt for so many years — I was like, I just feel like there’s some stuff going on with me about gender. I can’t decide if I’m a girl who feels kind of like a boy or like a gay man trapped in a girl’s body or if I’m, like, a boy but in a very feminine way, or, like, am I a lesbian? It was just very confusing. And I just kept feeling like I was trying on, like, clothes that didn’t fit. And it was just — the biggest sort of concern of my specifically teenage years and early 20s was just this . . . what am I? Where do I fit in all of this?

Maia Kobabe

The embarrassing and humiliating experiences of sexual advances and failures eventually give way to shared experiences with others and a better idea of who e is. Even so, Maia struggled with trying to explain to eir family how e was nonbinary and asexual. So e wrote this book.

Maia had been drawing illustrations for years as a way to express emself, so that naturally became a significant part of this book. The frank way e revealed eir experiences in these drawings is remarkably honest. Yet it has also become one of the main clubs used by unsympathetic people to beat down the author and eir book.

If a book is judged not by words or flowery style, but rather by the impact it makes on people’s lives, then Gender Queer is an instant classic. For people living in the nonbinary world, at sea between male and female ports of call, this is the safe harbor they were seeking. These are thoughts shared by someone who understands completely. And who has had the courage to put it out there for all to see.

Well done, Maia.

Why Is Gender Queer Banned?

Gender Queer seems to be banned primarily because the subject itself is objectionable to many straight people. The explicit, graphic drawings are also frequently cited.

The content of this website is drawn from the banned-books research of historian Sanford Holst

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