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Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story

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A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like "masculine" and "aggressive" and "cargo shorts" and "SPORTS!" Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label "sissy." In the two decades that followed, "sissy" joined forces with "gay," "trans," "nonbinary," and "too-queer-to-function" to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world--one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism. From Jacob's Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won't soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into "men" and "women." Sissy guarantees that you'll never think about gender--both other people's people's and your own--the same way again.


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A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like "masculine" and "aggressive" and "cargo shorts" and "SPORTS!" Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label "sissy." In the two decades that followed, "sissy" joined forces with "gay," "trans," "nonbinary," and "too-queer-to-function" to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world--one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism. From Jacob's Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won't soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into "men" and "women." Sissy guarantees that you'll never think about gender--both other people's people's and your own--the same way again.

30 review for Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    3.5 Stars. The first half of this memoir is amazing. Tobia articulates the painful experiences they had while growing up and I was left with a greater understanding for a different kind of non-binary experience. Their memories surrounding their childhood had the strongest writing. It was easy to understand the confusion of how they felt with how the adults in their life tried to steer them towards traditional masculinity. The second half of the book shows that, although the author is queer, ther 3.5 Stars. The first half of this memoir is amazing. Tobia articulates the painful experiences they had while growing up and I was left with a greater understanding for a different kind of non-binary experience. Their memories surrounding their childhood had the strongest writing. It was easy to understand the confusion of how they felt with how the adults in their life tried to steer them towards traditional masculinity. The second half of the book shows that, although the author is queer, there is still a blindness to class and racial privilege. My mouth hung agape when they had the privilege of looking down upon the university they got a full ride scholarship to when it wasn’t an ideal fit. Ideal or not, who looks down at a debt-free degree from a prestigious school that clearly led to their future career opportunities? Sheesh. Overall, this memoir is full of important information on gender non-conformity. It isn’t easy to write a memoir before age 30, mostly because perspective comes when more time has passed since any life event.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A very strong four stars for this bold and hilarious memoir. I loved Jacob Tobia’s voice in Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story. I appreciated their progressive political views, their honesty about their childhood, adolescence, and college years as a gender nonconforming person, and their humor. They take a critical perspective on social justice issues related to queerness and gender, like when they point out that “the closet” can be a problematic metaphor because it puts the onus on the queer perso A very strong four stars for this bold and hilarious memoir. I loved Jacob Tobia’s voice in Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story. I appreciated their progressive political views, their honesty about their childhood, adolescence, and college years as a gender nonconforming person, and their humor. They take a critical perspective on social justice issues related to queerness and gender, like when they point out that “the closet” can be a problematic metaphor because it puts the onus on the queer person to come out as opposed to on the homophobic society that relegates queerness to a position of otherness in the first place. Their writing about their childhood, teen, and college years felt real and without pretense, like how they write about how they relied on external validation to compensate for their nonbinary gender not being affirmed, or an experience at Duke where they were forced into an awful gender binary exercise. Finally, their humor resonated with me a lot. Like, when they wrote about when they met Barack Obama and they tried to focus on the shortcomings of his policies (e.g., drone warfare, not slowing deportations) yet they instead focused on how hot he was – that felt so relatable and I laugh out loud every time I reread that passage. There were a couple of instances that I felt a little confused or uncertain about Tobia’s understanding of their racial identity. They touch on having family members who are Arab and being mistaken for white, yet I think they also benefit from white-passing privilege which they did not touch on a lot. At one point they talk about making a joke about reconstruction as a drag queen and exhibiting some self-awareness about the problematic nature of that joke, yet they then describe the joke as a dig at racism. I think I wanted a bit more ownership or exploration of their racial privilege or racial positionality overall, especially given their developed and thoughtful commentary on gender identity and sexual orientation. A fabulous memoir written from a funny, non-pretentious trans perspective. Tobia’s confidence is admirable especially given how society strives to marginalize trans people. Their voice glows in this memoir as I’m sure their iconic heels do too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook...read by Jacob Tobia A National Best Seller: “Transformative...If Tobia aspires to the ranks of comic memoirists like David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling, ‘Sissy’ succeeds.” —From the New York Times Book Review. This audiobook/memoir was WONDERFUL... Jacob is so darn likable! It took him years to discover that being ‘a sissy’ wasn’t something he needed to be ashamed of. Rather it was a source of pride. His source of pride!!! Our source of pride with him. It occurred to me while enjoying Jacob’s Audiobook...read by Jacob Tobia A National Best Seller: “Transformative...If Tobia aspires to the ranks of comic memoirists like David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling, ‘Sissy’ succeeds.” —From the New York Times Book Review. This audiobook/memoir was WONDERFUL... Jacob is so darn likable! It took him years to discover that being ‘a sissy’ wasn’t something he needed to be ashamed of. Rather it was a source of pride. His source of pride!!! Our source of pride with him. It occurred to me while enjoying Jacob’s memoir, [a coming of age gender story].. that with all this social distancing- (I’m mostly home every day by myself -if not on a trail hiking), choosing a fascinating memoir is intimate and fulfilling! Listening to an author share ‘their’ story with us - Be it... Michelle Obama, Gary Shteyngart, David Sedaris, Mary Louise Parker, Roxane Gay, Stormy Daniels, Bruce Springsteen, or Sherman Alexi to name a few..... and now Jacob Tobia .... I’m able to get a great dose of ‘relationship-connection’-fulfillment. A great memoir-audiobook satisfaction....... .....transfers intimacy effortlessly!!! The authors personal stories, are the next best thing, to having them over for lunch. I never thought I was a big ‘memoir’ book reader.... but I admit — many have been tremendously enjoyable recently. Memoirs ( people sharing), are a great fit with sheltering-in-place. Jacob is a natural storyteller... warm, funny, genderqueer.... ‘Sissy’ builds with humor and gusto.... He lightly - yet seriously- underlines freedom from societal gender-norm pressures. Jay Duplass said... “Dear men, please read this book. Whether you’re sensitive, bold, gay, straight, pen, by, creative, analytical, or don’t even know who the hell you are, this book is a blueprint for healing our gender based trauma from the inside out. It’s brilliant and important and I couldn’t put it down”. ...You’ll fall in love with Jacob! ...You’ll fall in love with Jacob’s grandmother. But.... haha...will you fall in stilettos? Not me... I have a bionic foot! Haha.... But I giggled and enjoyed visualizing two men going fancy shoe shopping for themselves. I wanted to tag along with Jacob and his friends - buying new colorful outrageous socks would have given me a buzz! I simple liked Jacob’s company!!! Sign me up for his next book!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    Everyone should read this. Everyone. Better yet, listen to the author's entertaining and thoughtful audiobook performance! I'm a devout feminist/humanist yet Tobia still had plenty to teach me about gender form all angles -- and they made it fun. Everyone should read this. Everyone. Better yet, listen to the author's entertaining and thoughtful audiobook performance! I'm a devout feminist/humanist yet Tobia still had plenty to teach me about gender form all angles -- and they made it fun.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ren

    Horribly written. Attempts at humor fail miserably and most of the book is spent patting themselves on the back for their very very dull college life/full transcriptions of emails they sent complaining about small instances of harassment/unwokeness at their Ivy League school (not to dismiss harassment but it's very white middle class college student etc). Want to read a book by a narcissist who thinks every dump they take is radical while wincing at the stilted writing style and jokes the entire Horribly written. Attempts at humor fail miserably and most of the book is spent patting themselves on the back for their very very dull college life/full transcriptions of emails they sent complaining about small instances of harassment/unwokeness at their Ivy League school (not to dismiss harassment but it's very white middle class college student etc). Want to read a book by a narcissist who thinks every dump they take is radical while wincing at the stilted writing style and jokes the entire time? This is the book for you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I wanted to like this book; Tobia came to a bookstore in my hometown (Wichita, KS) in April, and I got to finally experience being in a room with 100+ locals who believe my gender is real, which was an incredible, affirming, unforgettable experience. But this book is...the nicest thing I can say is Not For Me. First, it's in dire need of better editing: Tobia tends to rattle off three or four one-liners when one would do (and be funnier), and there's a lot of other material that should've been co I wanted to like this book; Tobia came to a bookstore in my hometown (Wichita, KS) in April, and I got to finally experience being in a room with 100+ locals who believe my gender is real, which was an incredible, affirming, unforgettable experience. But this book is...the nicest thing I can say is Not For Me. First, it's in dire need of better editing: Tobia tends to rattle off three or four one-liners when one would do (and be funnier), and there's a lot of other material that should've been condensed or skipped entirely. (Like multiple drafts of their college entrance essay, I can't.) Second, there's some dangerous bullshit in here, especially for a trans activist to be repeating: e.g., the idea that dudes who bully people they don't see as sufficiently masculine secretly want to fuck them. REALLY, THEY SAY THIS MORE THAN ONCE. And then there's "trans people don't bleed blood. We bleed glitter," which almost made me throw the book across the room. NOPE, JACOB, I BLEED BLOOD AND SO DO YOU. There's some good stuff in here, mostly the first two chapters on early childhood and their relationship with Christianity, both of which I found relatable to my own Catholic-y non-binary experience. But what's missing for me is a sense of their internal gender journey: they just suddenly start identifying as genderqueer, and then go right back to reeling off their accomplishments like they're still applying for college: "And then I became THE trans celebrity at Duke, and then I ran across the Brooklyn Bridge in heels and I was on MSNBC, and then I went to a White House dinner and met Obama and OMG can I just go on about how hot he is for like two paragraphs?" They're also utterly tone-deaf about their class privilege; did they really think most trans readers would be like "Wow, I really relate to this person, I, too, feel like my gender held me back from getting a Rhodes scholarship?" Okay, last thing, and this is the most baffling to me: I don't think they mention a single trans friend by name. How can you position yourself as part of a community when you don't talk about the people who give you that community?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Cebulski

    I liked Sissy okay. I've enjoyed it more in hindsight than when I was reading it. It's not that I'm not glad I read it, because I am. PROBABLY what bothers me is mostly that, personally, Jacob Tobia doesn't seem like someone I'd jive with, and that personality clash bleeds into whether or not I can enjoy their writing. That's not to say they wouldn't be fun to chat with, not to say they're not an important public figure, not to say they haven't done amazing work. Nothing like that. It's that some I liked Sissy okay. I've enjoyed it more in hindsight than when I was reading it. It's not that I'm not glad I read it, because I am. PROBABLY what bothers me is mostly that, personally, Jacob Tobia doesn't seem like someone I'd jive with, and that personality clash bleeds into whether or not I can enjoy their writing. That's not to say they wouldn't be fun to chat with, not to say they're not an important public figure, not to say they haven't done amazing work. Nothing like that. It's that something deeply rooted in their writing doesn't work for me. Maybe it's just simpler to say that Jacob Tobia seems like they're full of themself, and that bothers me. I don't think Tobia would even deny this. In the book, they literally compare themself with Jesus Christ more than once. Self-love is great, by the way! It's important, especially for queer people. But the self-love turns too quickly to self-indulgence in this case. Like, the stories in this book happened, I'm sure. But some impulse seems to compel Tobia to inject every story with these clearly-dramatized Shonda Rhimes speeches and dramatic turns. The set-ups and pay-offs come off as far too constructed. Memoir is tricky because I understand that everyone has their own perspective on their own lives, and that one's recounting of events is drastically different from another's, that memory is generally a construction anyway. There are a lot of very understandable reasons why one, for their own mental health, might remember things in a certain manner. But in Sissy, it comes off to me like Tobia is purposely trying to invent a narrative for themself. Like Tobia isn't actually dealing with what they've gone through. Rather, they're presenting a positive front for public consumption. Tobia mentions how their father remembers things with more emotion than memory. They reflect on this semi-critically. To their credit Tobia acknowledges that this applies to them as well. But they don't do anything to reckon with the observation either. It's just... there. It's this weird thing that Tobia does. They're aware of their tendency to buy their own bullshit, but don't seem to process it. At least not to the extent that I'd expect someone who has written so much about themself. You'd think at some point there would be a sobering, confessional passage, one that brings out Tobia's vulnerability, shows that they're trying to figure themself out. But there isn't any of that energy in Sissy. It's more like they're carefully constructing how they want others see them, rather than laying it out for their own benefit. I've come across this honest, open self-reckoning in other memoirs, really difficult passages where the authors come to grips with their demons, or at least put them out there in a constructive way. Thomas Page McBee's Man Apart, or Laura Jane Grace's Tranny, or Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, or Darnell Moore's No Ashes in the Fire. These authors of course present their writing in a readable, accessible way, but there's also an underlying sense of writing for their own fulfillment, writing to figure out their own shit and get through it. There's little of that in Tobia's book. It's much more about the presentation here. Feels very theatrical. There's some weird racial politics going on here too. Not racism, I would never accuse them of that, but more like a getting-my-liberal-bona-fides kinda way. Tobia says all the right things about colonialism and white supremacy, only in a sort of peppered-on, posturing sort of way, that doesn't go much beyond a hashtag understanding of race. Tobia also frequently but slyly alludes to starting to familarize themself with their Middle-Eastern heritage in a way they never elaborate upon enough. Just enough to make it SEEM like they don't want to be accused of benefiting from white privilege anymore. Maybe I'm reading into that too much, but it does seem suggestive of a distancing from whiteness that no white or white passing person can give themself. There are good parts too, don't get me wrong. In the end it's a worthwhile read. I love the part where they're talking about wanting to dress up as Pocahontas for Halloween as a child. It was a great blend of comedy, snarky comments about cultural appropriation, and commentary on their budding gender identity. But the parts where it feels like Tobia is actually comfortable with their audience, telling you things straight-up, reckoning with their identity and their history, are too few and far between.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Full of energy, but zero (I mean ZERO) panache. And I don't mean "panache" in the flamboyant sense, I mean it in the sense that a memoir like this really needs shape, style, structure and a reach for something permanent. Instead, it is written in the blog style of no-style, with quips here and there, and intense self-absorption, beyond the call even for a memoir about discovering one's truest self. I did gain some understanding of gender-fluidity and nonbinary-ness, but felt like I was reading a Full of energy, but zero (I mean ZERO) panache. And I don't mean "panache" in the flamboyant sense, I mean it in the sense that a memoir like this really needs shape, style, structure and a reach for something permanent. Instead, it is written in the blog style of no-style, with quips here and there, and intense self-absorption, beyond the call even for a memoir about discovering one's truest self. I did gain some understanding of gender-fluidity and nonbinary-ness, but felt like I was reading a first draft. The best part is the opening paragraph, which I'll quote here: "I never really got to have a childhood. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that as a feminine boy, my childhood was never really mine. My natural connection to my body, my comfort in my identity, my sense of security and safety were all taken from me before my earliest memories formed. They were pried from my hands, sometimes gently, occasionally violently; coaxed out of me through a combination of punishing isolation, public humiliation, and, when I managed to get things 'right,' acidic reward." THIS. Unfortunately, the rest of the book is far less thoughtful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Just not my cup of tea I requested that my library purchase this memoir and I so hope that others find it helpful and enlightening. For me, I realized about 40% of the way into the book that I just don’t *like* Jacob: I found them unrelateable and overly self-centered. I had hoped to find some wisdom to move forward in better understanding my gender-fluid or gender-nonconforming friends and compatriots, but I just didn’t. Here’s hoping you love it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maddy Gillette

    Jacob Tobia's memoir focusing on their experience growing into their identity as a genderqueer person was possibly the perfect book for this present moment. Covering their life from early childhood to the end of college, this memoir dives deep into the kaleidoscope of queer identities and comes up with the refreshing reminder that you don't have to choose just one! In all, the memoir covers the little moments that take place with friends and family and strangers and ourselves as we learn about o Jacob Tobia's memoir focusing on their experience growing into their identity as a genderqueer person was possibly the perfect book for this present moment. Covering their life from early childhood to the end of college, this memoir dives deep into the kaleidoscope of queer identities and comes up with the refreshing reminder that you don't have to choose just one! In all, the memoir covers the little moments that take place with friends and family and strangers and ourselves as we learn about our gender identity, and more broadly about who we are. This book was just beautiful from start to finish. Jacob's tone is mostly playful and charming, in a way that makes me want to get brunch with them and laugh about all of the dumb shit straight people have ever said to us. But even within cute or funny anecdotes, Jacob is able to slow it down and give emotional moments the space they deserve. This book isn't a queer tragedy, but the truth of it is that there is pain to growing into these identities, both internal and external, and Jacob is able to give space to let those feelings be-- before bringing it back into the overall upbeat fun mood of the book. And I think that's where they truly succeed- is making gender FUN. Beating back against the stories we expect to hear of trans angst and earning your place in the binary through years of abuse, Jacob puts forth a memoir that is able to recount an imperfect journey without focusing only on the hurt. I absolutely loved this book and think that everyone should read it, but ESPECIALLY people whose only understanding of trans people is coming from stories where trans folks have had awful lives, find themselves, and re-integrate into the gender binary to become Just Like You! Those narratives are valuable, but this book is a breath of fresh air and a great look into a part of the queer community whose voice is often unheard. While I honestly want to just recommend this book to everyone, I would particularly suggest it to people who love other humorous, quick-paced memoirs, such as those by Jenny Lawson. And anyone looking for a boisterous, fun narrator to fall madly in love with will find it in Jacob Tobia.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    And so, here I am again plunging further out of my comfort zone with a memoir. Memoirs are not books that I've read often, mostly because I thought that they were inspired only by ego, but I admit, I was very wrong. A memoir, well written, opens up a door into a life that we quite possibly would never have understood or maybe, never noticed. Memoirs give us insight into a multitude of cultures and lifestyles and teach us just as much as they tell. Sometimes, they teach us more in their honesty. A And so, here I am again plunging further out of my comfort zone with a memoir. Memoirs are not books that I've read often, mostly because I thought that they were inspired only by ego, but I admit, I was very wrong. A memoir, well written, opens up a door into a life that we quite possibly would never have understood or maybe, never noticed. Memoirs give us insight into a multitude of cultures and lifestyles and teach us just as much as they tell. Sometimes, they teach us more in their honesty. And so it is true with Jacob Tobia's "Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story." Let me be honest. I love Jacob Tobia. I read this memoir and I laughed. I cried. My heart ached. And I realized without hesitation that I want to be Jacob's BFF even though I'm Grandma material at my age. And I hope, hope, hope that Jacob continues writing and the story continues to be told. Thank you to Jacob Tobia, Penguin Random House, and Goodreads. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I won't ever part with it. This is my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    Right away, Jacob Tobia wants the reader to know that this is not a Trans 101 book. It is not going to be your Acceptable Trans Narrative, and they are also going to make it clear to you just how much damage we are doing as a society by only allowing one Acceptable Trans Narrative. I knew immediately I was in good hands. I also noticed right away that Tobia uses inclusive language as much as possible. It's incredibly rare for Tobia to talk about just "trans people" instead they will almost alway Right away, Jacob Tobia wants the reader to know that this is not a Trans 101 book. It is not going to be your Acceptable Trans Narrative, and they are also going to make it clear to you just how much damage we are doing as a society by only allowing one Acceptable Trans Narrative. I knew immediately I was in good hands. I also noticed right away that Tobia uses inclusive language as much as possible. It's incredibly rare for Tobia to talk about just "trans people" instead they will almost always say something like "trans and gendernonconforming people" or "trans and genderqueer and gender fluid and nonbinary and two spirit and gendernonconforming people" and it made my heart happy. Writing about trans people tends to reinforce the gender binary much of the time and Tobia is determined to crack that wide open. This is a lovely, simple memoir focusing almost entirely on Tobia's life through a gender lens. Tobia is only 27 at the time of writing the book and it only covers their life through college. There's a lot to be said for the way Tobia limits the book and keeps it focused. But I do think it's a good thing for readers to know going in, the subtitle does important work. If you like memoirs with a friendly voice, that treat you like a trusted confidant, this is a good pick for you. The book isn't too heavy on queer suffering, but it does have discrimination against queer people and gender nonconforming people as its primary focus, so it is not exactly happy all the time. There is not much in the way of violence, but there is a lot of emotional trauma and a warning for suicidal ideation. It's also notable that Tobia refers to themself with he/him pronouns for the vast majority of the book, which could be difficult for some readers. (It is tricky as a reader, because this means you default to thinking of Tobia as "he" even though you know all about their identity, as their shift in pronouns comes almost at the very end of the book.) Tobia mostly balances this out with their unique charm and dazzle. The audio in particular lets them really shine. I kept wondering why my library seemed so obsessed with this book, always a pile of copies, only to realize upon finally reading it that the author is from here! It was the first time I have read a book set in the Triangle in NC since moving here so that was a nice little bonus.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jackson

    I really wanted to like this book and I’m sure it’s filled with lots of valuable information but it felt like a very padded editorial article, not a book, and it was padded with an absolutely astonishing amount of clunky and long winded metaphors that no editor should have given the ok too and after awhile I just couldn’t take “it’s like your great aunt’s cheesecake” anymore.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    3.5* - I enjoyed the first half of this book, and overall it's an engaging, important, and courageous memoir. I did have some issues with how much race privilege and particularly class privilege seemed to be glossed over in the second half that centered mainly around Tobia's experiences at an elite private university. 3.5* - I enjoyed the first half of this book, and overall it's an engaging, important, and courageous memoir. I did have some issues with how much race privilege and particularly class privilege seemed to be glossed over in the second half that centered mainly around Tobia's experiences at an elite private university.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gauge Romine

    I really wanted to like this book. As a queer person of color, I was excited to hear about another queer person's experience. However, I was deeply disappointed. I frequently picked up this book to attempt to continue reading but often read only a couple of pages before becoming frustrated again. Jacob makes a handful of really great points and sheds light on a crucial subject for this time, but that's about it for the positives. Throughout the book, Jacob dodges responsibility for any negative I really wanted to like this book. As a queer person of color, I was excited to hear about another queer person's experience. However, I was deeply disappointed. I frequently picked up this book to attempt to continue reading but often read only a couple of pages before becoming frustrated again. Jacob makes a handful of really great points and sheds light on a crucial subject for this time, but that's about it for the positives. Throughout the book, Jacob dodges responsibility for any negative occurrence, blaming those around them instead. For example, "In my electric life, if someone isn't a conductor, it's generally because they cannot handle my identity." Throughout the book, they fail to acknowledge the privilege they do have (attending one of the most prestigious schools in the country, coming from a two-parent household, being white, etc.) and reduce everything down to their queer identity. While I deeply appreciate the subject matter, Jacob appears to have a very narrow-perspective that defines how they see the world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Max

    What could have been a merely mediocre buzzfeed article has been stretched into a seriously tedious book. Just because you don’t have a book’s worth of things to say doesn’t mean I should have to turn several pages to get past the sexist essay about heels that got you into Harvard in both its various drafts and final format, or the full text of a presentation you almost gave at church. No substantive understanding of misogyny demonstrated at any point. More than one creepy line hitting on specif What could have been a merely mediocre buzzfeed article has been stretched into a seriously tedious book. Just because you don’t have a book’s worth of things to say doesn’t mean I should have to turn several pages to get past the sexist essay about heels that got you into Harvard in both its various drafts and final format, or the full text of a presentation you almost gave at church. No substantive understanding of misogyny demonstrated at any point. More than one creepy line hitting on specific lesbian public figures. In all, about what I was expecting

  17. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Tracy

    I think Jacob's is a very important story, and ultimately I'm glad I read it. But I do think that it could have been about 100 pages shorter - It was a struggle to finish the book, and there were a lot (I mean a lot) of long winded metaphors that I think detracted from the narrative as a whole. I appreciated most Jacob's discussion of the harmful ways in which we raise young boys, as well as their experience in the south as a Christian. I really wanted to love this book because Jacob is amazing I think Jacob's is a very important story, and ultimately I'm glad I read it. But I do think that it could have been about 100 pages shorter - It was a struggle to finish the book, and there were a lot (I mean a lot) of long winded metaphors that I think detracted from the narrative as a whole. I appreciated most Jacob's discussion of the harmful ways in which we raise young boys, as well as their experience in the south as a Christian. I really wanted to love this book because Jacob is amazing, and I'm just not sure that I did. still worth a read!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bookishfolk

    3.75 rounded up It took me a minute to get my thoughts and feelings down about this book. Firstly, I will say this is an important book and one you should grab immediately to better understand yourself, gender, society and the world in general. Books like this one are pertinent in moving the narrative forward and I’m 100% in for all of them! With that said, I have both things I loved about this book and didn’t so much love about the book. I’ll start with what I didn’t love so I can end on a high n 3.75 rounded up It took me a minute to get my thoughts and feelings down about this book. Firstly, I will say this is an important book and one you should grab immediately to better understand yourself, gender, society and the world in general. Books like this one are pertinent in moving the narrative forward and I’m 100% in for all of them! With that said, I have both things I loved about this book and didn’t so much love about the book. I’ll start with what I didn’t love so I can end on a high note. DIDN’T LOVE 1. I could tell Jacob is a lot younger than me and as I was reading this book, I realized just how far away I am from their age. It’s not a bad thing and I don’t think it would bother readers that are more similar in age to Jacob or quite a bit older than Jacob, but as a person turning 40, I found myself slightly irked at times. 2. There was a lot of religious talk throughout this memoir. I know this is a memoir and Jacob’s religion and relationship with the church is part of their journey, but religion has been the curse of my life with my own coming out journey (and as a kid being forced to participate in something that felt innately wrong to me), so I felt slightly offended by all of the religious talk. In general, I steer clear of religion in books (and life if I’m being perfectly honest) as a rule of thumb, so this was tough for me to see past. 3. So much Duke talk. But again, this was the closest life experience that Jacob has had, so it’s important to them. It just made me feel a little annoyed reading about all of this Duke talk and how Jacob seemed a bit dismissive of the fact that they were given a full scholarship to a prestigious college and yet still felt they had the right to down talk it. It felt slightly classist and seemed to show a bit of privilege. Again, it might have been that I’m sooooo far removed from my college experience, although I’ll be paying back my student loans until the day I die, so that might have played a role in me being aggravated. Jacob did have a horrific experience at a Duke diversity training that would have turned me off from my college, full ride or not, so I wonder if that played a role and definitely something for me to consider. 4. I’m starting to learn that I just don’t love all memoirs. There is something innately narcissistic about a memoir (that’s basically the point through, right?) that puts me off. Again, this isn’t Jacob’s fault, but as a reader, I find myself somewhat dismissive by all the me talk. I’ve read memoirs that don’t feel this way, but I felt it a bit while reading this memoir. THINGS I LOVED 1. All the jazz hands for writing a book that educates readers in a way that doesn’t feel preachy, that you’re talking down to us, or is too intellectual-based. It was an thoroughly enjoyable read and I appreciated that so much. 2. We need allll the trans books/LGBTQ+ books/own voices books that we can get and I will read and love all of them that rest in my hands. 3. I had a similar experience with my dad that Jacob had, but it went to a whole different level where not a single person in my family speaks to me. I felt myself tearing up as they spoke about their father and tearing up even more as they showed the journey their mother took to get to the place that she is at now. It was beautiful. 4. The White House visit was everything to me and Eleanor Roosevelt is queen 🙂 5. This book had me laughing out loud at times and I really appreciate it. Especially when there were certain parts of the book that were tough for me. 6. We got to see a glimpse into what it’s like to grow into a genderqueer identity and I’m not sure I’ve ever read something this honest or real before. Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Not just because it’s queer, but because books like this need to be read in order to understand society as a whole. With education comes learning and acceptance and I applaud books like Jacob’s.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Isis

    “If you don’t know what the word cisgender means by now, that’s probably because you ARE cisgender, bless your heart!” Oops, I’m sorry I’m not up to date with the labels everyone’s giving each other nowadays.. I’ll probably get a lot of backlash for this, but this dude was arrogant & full of himself throughout the book. He was giving himself pats on the back & speaking as if the world owes him something. The purpose of reading this book was so that I could obtain information as to what a non bin “If you don’t know what the word cisgender means by now, that’s probably because you ARE cisgender, bless your heart!” Oops, I’m sorry I’m not up to date with the labels everyone’s giving each other nowadays.. I’ll probably get a lot of backlash for this, but this dude was arrogant & full of himself throughout the book. He was giving himself pats on the back & speaking as if the world owes him something. The purpose of reading this book was so that I could obtain information as to what a non binary person goes through. I wanted to learn more about this subject, but this guy’s so stuck up, he couldn’t even explain things throughly for oblivious people who are just trying to inform themselves. Bless your heart!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    This is one of those memoirs I want to push on everyone. (Most recently I felt similarly about The Sun Does Shine.) Sissy is interesting and often entertaining, and I promise it has plenty to influence the way you think and talk about gender. Jacob's metaphor of gender-based trauma as a bad back, rather than as a broken leg, is a great one, and well-explained. Their description of living with gender-based trauma over time deftly sets up their next point, which is that gender-based trauma is NOT This is one of those memoirs I want to push on everyone. (Most recently I felt similarly about The Sun Does Shine.) Sissy is interesting and often entertaining, and I promise it has plenty to influence the way you think and talk about gender. Jacob's metaphor of gender-based trauma as a bad back, rather than as a broken leg, is a great one, and well-explained. Their description of living with gender-based trauma over time deftly sets up their next point, which is that gender-based trauma is NOT something that only trans people experience. "There are millions of cisgender, heterosexual people—particularly men—who have never coped with the trauma they’ve experienced, who don’t even recognize their experiences as trauma in the first place. They’ve spent a large portion of their lives being told that they are not man enough if they do this or aren’t masculine enough if they do that, and none of these imperatives are even recognized as gender policing. So many men remain trapped in a cycle of abuse that says you can’t cry, can’t recognize your pain, and must participate in cultures of violence. For many, participating in this cycle of abuse is even a badge of honor." Jacob almost immediately goes from that point to describing the "mainstream, classical trans narrative that's, quite frankly, gotten a little repetitive" Mad Libs-style, and breaking down why exactly they find that narrative an oversimplification of the trans community. There isn't just one trans story to tell, and all this beautifully sets up a book about Jacob's own story. One other thing you should know before going into this one: Jacob doesn't seek to present "an epic journey." They "tried to let loose and have a little fun," and "refuse to take (their) experience with gender too seriously." In that sense, this book was a lighter read than I expected. I loved it, I want everyone to read it, and I'm looking forward to whatever Jacob writes next.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    This is a beautiful, funny, insightful book full of truth and joy. Jacob Tobia was one of the first nonbinary superstars I discovered and started following on instagram when I began trying to answer my own question of "What does a nonbinary adult look like?" Despite loving their fashion, their feminism and their flirty photo captions for years, I didn't know even a fraction of their story. Jacob was born in 1991 in North Carolina to a loving, churchgoing family who were as supportive as they cou This is a beautiful, funny, insightful book full of truth and joy. Jacob Tobia was one of the first nonbinary superstars I discovered and started following on instagram when I began trying to answer my own question of "What does a nonbinary adult look like?" Despite loving their fashion, their feminism and their flirty photo captions for years, I didn't know even a fraction of their story. Jacob was born in 1991 in North Carolina to a loving, churchgoing family who were as supportive as they could be while still being pretty confused about their genderful child in a binary world. Jacob struggled through childhood bullying, came out as queer as a teen, wrote a college admittance essay about their first experience wearing high heels on campus and got into multiple Ivy League schools. From there, Jacob's ambition, activism and fashion only grew brighter and bolder, leading to nationally recognized fundraising projects for LGBTQ causes and to a trip to the White House during the Obama years. Amidst this wild success were periods of failure, fear, sorrow, and a lot of growth and self-discovery. I have been searching out and consuming queer coming age narratives for years; I didn't realize the extra layer of SEEN I would feel on reading an explicitly genderqueer journey. I'm so pleased that this book exists in the world, and so excited that soon my book can be shelved in the same section in a bookstore. Thank you, Jacob- I'm going to wearing more glitter going forward.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    The kind of book you hug while reading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Van Amburgh

    My book club has been up in some rather dreary shit lately (sorry, y’all) and Sissy was a very welcome breath of fresh air! While 70% of this reads very much in the style of a Xanga/Livejournal post, I’m here for it; haters can back off (but stay tuned bc I have recs for you). If you want a super eloquent/heart-wrenching memoir about the trans experience (from a woman who possesses cis-passing privilege), read Janet Mock’s excellent book. If you want to laugh your butt off, can forgive a lack in My book club has been up in some rather dreary shit lately (sorry, y’all) and Sissy was a very welcome breath of fresh air! While 70% of this reads very much in the style of a Xanga/Livejournal post, I’m here for it; haters can back off (but stay tuned bc I have recs for you). If you want a super eloquent/heart-wrenching memoir about the trans experience (from a woman who possesses cis-passing privilege), read Janet Mock’s excellent book. If you want to laugh your butt off, can forgive a lack in structure/finesse, and want to understand what it is like to truly live outside of the gender binary, I would really recommend this one. Yes, Tobia exhibits a significant amount of privilege, but we also desperately need stories from a wide variety of LGBTQ+ voices that are not always tragic. I found Jacob delightful on the page and through an email exchange we had as well, so I’m very intrigued to see whatever medium they decide to tackle next! On a personal note: big reminder to normalize asking for pronouns whenever you can: put yours in your email sig, ask for them in meetings/when meeting people for the first time, and try to rid yourself of habits related to reinforcing the gender binary when it isn’t absolutely necessary (referring to people as sir/ma’am/hey guys/etc.). It really matters and doesn’t cost cis people a damn thing, but it means everything to our NB/GNC/trans neighbors.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Pretty full of himself....and of white privilege.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    The synopsis states that after reading this book “you’ll never think about gender—both other peoples and your own—the same way again”, and for me this is absolutely true. As a cisgender person, I’d never put much thought into my gender. It just was what it was, and I never questioned it. This book enlightened me, challenged my thinking, and made me want to learn much more. Jacob identifies as gender nonconforming/ genderqueer/trans fabulous/gender chill. Jacob is authentically themself, and I thi The synopsis states that after reading this book “you’ll never think about gender—both other peoples and your own—the same way again”, and for me this is absolutely true. As a cisgender person, I’d never put much thought into my gender. It just was what it was, and I never questioned it. This book enlightened me, challenged my thinking, and made me want to learn much more. Jacob identifies as gender nonconforming/ genderqueer/trans fabulous/gender chill. Jacob is authentically themself, and I think that’s what we all are striving towards in this world. To express ourselves authentically, bring our whole selves to work, to show up for our family and friends, and just be seen and valued as a person. I love the emphasis that we should be playful with our gender and not let stereotypes get in the way of what truly makes us happy. Jacob even wore high heels in the White House (twice!), which is amazing. I primarily listened to the audiobook and Jacob’s performance was so fun, I enjoyed every minute! Because this book fundamentally changed the way I think about gender, I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. However, this won’t be the only book I read on the subject, as I want to keep growing and learning.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

    I really wish that I liked this more, but I found the writing style tiresome. It reads like an extended retread of a 22 year old's Livejournal. Also could we talk about how we barely meet any of Jacob's many friends and allies, but chooses to spend the better part of the final chapter complaining not getting a Marshall or Rhodes Scholarship? Or the long piece about being accepted to Harvard but choosing to attend Duke? Or as others have said, THE EMAILS. It pains me a bit to personally know so m I really wish that I liked this more, but I found the writing style tiresome. It reads like an extended retread of a 22 year old's Livejournal. Also could we talk about how we barely meet any of Jacob's many friends and allies, but chooses to spend the better part of the final chapter complaining not getting a Marshall or Rhodes Scholarship? Or the long piece about being accepted to Harvard but choosing to attend Duke? Or as others have said, THE EMAILS. It pains me a bit to personally know so many awesome, smart, articulate, funny, kind, fabulous, and self aware genderqueer and trans people in LA (and beyond!), and that this is the person who got a book deal.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Whiteley

    Absolutely hilarious and heart-wrenching on every page. Jacob Tobia made me smile, cry, snap, laugh out loud, and even utter a few “yasss queen”s while reading. As a GNC human myself, this book was unapologetically honest and reminded me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you, Jacob, for letting me read your story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Logan Hughes

    It's so hard for me to rate this book, because there are parts I love SO MUCH and parts that are just meh. Here are the subratings ratings that go into this: First two chapters: 5 stars Jacob Tobia reflects generally on their identity and experiences as a nonbinary person. In chapter two, they talk about trans representation in the media and "the narrative" that most cis people are familiar with, and how it erases nonbinary identities, non-gender-conforming trans people, and many others, and how It's so hard for me to rate this book, because there are parts I love SO MUCH and parts that are just meh. Here are the subratings ratings that go into this: First two chapters: 5 stars Jacob Tobia reflects generally on their identity and experiences as a nonbinary person. In chapter two, they talk about trans representation in the media and "the narrative" that most cis people are familiar with, and how it erases nonbinary identities, non-gender-conforming trans people, and many others, and how it sensationalizes trauma and leaves no room for humor and fun. They talk about the need for more funny and diverse trans stories. I LOVE this chapter and want to print it out and distribute it to all cis people. Childhood memories: 5 stars Jacob's recollections of their childhood, they reflect on the wild way that the bog-standard childhood enforcement of the gender binary which seems so normal to gender-conforming cis people constitutes emotional abuse for trans kids. (There are also fantastically funny digressions, such as their characterization of pumpkin Halloween costumes as "such a Hufflepuff choice.") They also talk about their complicated relationship to a church community that could be brilliantly kind (such as a the sweet youth pastor who was the perfect person to come out to), but also cold and callous (such as the refusal to let Jacob deliver what was honestly a fantastic sermon on the Psalm line "you are fearfully and wonderfully made", directly designed to reassure and lift up closeted and questioning queer kids, because it might actually reach queer kids, smh). College memories: 2 stars Despite loving the first half of the book, I ABRUPTLY lost steam in this section, which is a whopping four chapters long. Note to memoirists: college is boring and should be one chapter, max, (unless something happened to you in this time that is totally wild and unrelated to being in college.) My theory is that the college parts were written pretty soon after college; Jacob's writing style hadn't become so sparkling yet, and they were too close to the events to have enough distance to write about them with the insight and humor of the earlier sections. (The decision to include their entire college essay was unstrategic, I think, because I suddenly realized that the writing in this section SOUNDED LIKE a college essay.) That said, there were a few good parts here, notably their description of living in a gendered dorm and the way the most basic things like washing and going to the bathroom becomes a daily source of invalidation, and their rant about tokenization. Overall Rating Averaging these ratings (whether or not I weight them by number of chapters in each section) gives me about a 4. So, I'll go with that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dakota Shortridge

    I am proud that they shared their experiences. I am happy they had an easier go at life. With this said they needed to express the privilege they had by being middle class and perceived as a white “male.” I yearn for lower class stories in rural areas to share their stories, but suppression is real. The book was basically a big “look at me, I did all these things.” Good for you, but this book was a waste of my time, not inspiring and written with diction that further strokes their ego. Happy you I am proud that they shared their experiences. I am happy they had an easier go at life. With this said they needed to express the privilege they had by being middle class and perceived as a white “male.” I yearn for lower class stories in rural areas to share their stories, but suppression is real. The book was basically a big “look at me, I did all these things.” Good for you, but this book was a waste of my time, not inspiring and written with diction that further strokes their ego. Happy you had a good life and had minor struggles. Enjoy your money.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    As respectfully as possible, I am rating this memoir 2 stars. I think Jacob Tobia’s story is an important one, but unfortunately, they just came across as too self-absorbed. I am all for celebrating one’s accomplishments, especially if you have faced barriers to achieving them, but the way that Tobia wrote about their experiences/accomplishments just came across as braggy and self-indulgent. I really wish they had addressed their own privileges (i.e. their race and class privilege) and accepted As respectfully as possible, I am rating this memoir 2 stars. I think Jacob Tobia’s story is an important one, but unfortunately, they just came across as too self-absorbed. I am all for celebrating one’s accomplishments, especially if you have faced barriers to achieving them, but the way that Tobia wrote about their experiences/accomplishments just came across as braggy and self-indulgent. I really wish they had addressed their own privileges (i.e. their race and class privilege) and accepted responsibility for some of their failures more gracefully, rather than simply attributing every failure and negative experience to their gender identity. Towards the end of the book, Tobia writes something that upset me. I will quote it in full here, and since I am placing the quotation in italics, I will bold the words that Tobia placed emphasis on in the book. They write: Because, in fact, trans and queer people aren’t normal. Whenever we are afflicted, whenever we fight, whenever we are hurt, we don’t bleed blood: We bleed glitter. Arteries bursting with sparkles, our injuries blanket the world around us in shimmering bits of crystal. Our wounds are never in vain, because the moment pain escapes our bodies, it is transmogrified into flecks of gold, of silver, of diamonds and ruby, pearl and opal and sapphire cascading, emerald and tourmaline and amethyst encrusting everything in sight. So even when we’re at our weakest, even if we don’t make it, even when the world gets the best of us, it gets the best of us. We are never really gone. We leave so much glitter in our wake that no one can ever hope to fully clean it up. Perhaps Tobia simply wanted to reflect on the fabulousness of the trans and queer community (which is a problem in and of itself, as it is only once you are in a comfortable and safe enough place that you can express your fabulousness), but the way this section is written seems as though Tobia is ignoring the very real violence against trans and gender non-conforming people. They diminish the staggering amount of violence against and murders of trans and gender non-conforming people, especially transgender women of colour. Those who are murdered never get to present the world with the best of themselves, because their lives are stolen from them. They bleed real blood and they are gone forever. They are not remembered by society at large and our society is not doing enough to address the violence against these communities. This section felt poorly thought out to me and bordered on dangerous toxic positivity. Overall, this memoir felt more superficial than I had hoped and I just wasn’t a fan.

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