The author of "Gender Queer," a graphic novel containing explicit sexual material that has been found in public school libraries nationwide and has sparked controversy among parents, asserts that the book is not intended for children.
Last week, non-binary author Maia Kobabe, who goes by the pronouns "e, em, and eir," clarified that while the book may be suitable for "older teens," it is not advised for kids.
“It keeps being called a children’s book … but I think that’s coming from a misreading of the comic-book form. ‘Gender Queer’ is a comic, and in full color, but that doesn’t mean it’s for children. I originally wrote it for my parents, and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves. I don’t recommend this book for kids!” she told The Washington Post in an interview published last week.
The book includes depictions of oral sex, sex between two males, sex toys, masturbation and other sexually explicit content.
Kobabe's comments come following Sen John Kennedy reading excerpts from the book during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
The legislative committee was examining a recently enacted Illinois statute that withholds financial support from libraries that take books off their shelves. Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed this anti-book removal legislation in June, and did so against a backdrop featuring a shelf of disputed titles, including "Gender Queer."
Reading directly from the book, the senator said, “I got a new strap-on harness today. I can’t wait to put it on you. It will fit my favorite dildo perfectly. You’re going to look so hot. I can’t wait to have your c*ck in my mouth. I’m going to give you the blow job of your life. Then I want you inside of me.”
“The words you spoke are disturbing, especially coming out of your mouth, it’s very disturbing,” Illinois Secretary of State Alexander Giannoulias responded to Kennedy.
In an interview with Maia Kobabe conducted by the Washington Post, the interviewer conceded that she wouldn't provide a copy of "Gender Queer" to any elementary school-aged child in her life.
"If my child were 17, I might recommend they check out your book," the Washington Post columnist told Kobabe. "Particularly if they were contemplating activities like chest binding, I'd rather they learn the safe methods you describe in your book, instead of venturing into it uninformed."
Kobabe responded by suggesting “Gender Queer” maybe be a better option for “young readers” than Googling answers.
“Many books that are being challenged often wrestle with a difficult topic, like historical atrocities, or experiences of racism, or something dealing with sexual health. … I would rather young readers encounter information in books than in random unstructured Googling,” Kobabe said.