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Sissy Review

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Sissy is a memoir by genderqueer icon Jacob Tobia. At only 29 years, Tobia made an interesting choice to write their memoir now, but their journey through understanding their gender gives more than enough substance to work with.


Queer, memoir, humor


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.


Tobia tells their story from their earliest years when they were unaware of gender roles, to middle and high school where they were ostracized by their peers, to college where they realized they weren’t just gay, but genderqueer and embraced their identity.

Tobia lends humor throughout the memoir. While there are certainly sadnesses, Tobia keeps up an optimistic viewpoint, and has empathy even for those who caused them pain. They are witty and sometimes crude, making for delightful reading. Tobia writes in a casual, approachable style and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. I smiled through most of the memoir as Tobia recounted fun stories with a signature mix of self-deprecation and empathy.

Tobia challenges the notion of the classic trans narrative as the only narrative. Being trans doesn’t always feel like being “born in the wrong body” and transitioning into either male or female. For Tobia, it is much more fluid, and they feel proud of their body rather than wanting to change it. These different narratives are all valid, and Tobia advocates for greater diversity in trans storytelling.

Overall, a wonderfully charming and sweet “coming-of-gender” story written with passion and heart. A refreshingly optimistic memoir and a step toward greater understanding and representation of people outside the gender binary.

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