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Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  4,130 ratings  ·  702 reviews
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
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,130 ratings  ·  702 reviews

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Robin Bonne
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-and-essay
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
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 ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing 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
da AL
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
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
Hank Stuever
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Maddy Gillette
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
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.
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 ...more
Elizabeth Jackson
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Gauge Romine
Jul 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
“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
Savannah Tracy
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Rachel Van Amburgh
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
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 ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, memoir
The kind of book you hug while reading.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Pretty full of himself....and of white privilege.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Spencer Whiteley
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Logan Hughes
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trans, queer
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
Dakota Shortridge
Aug 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m big on nonfiction. I love hearing about the lives of others and the memoir is the ultimate fly on the wall experience. For me, a memoir is the closest I will ever get to walking in someone else’s shoes...and I have to say Jacob Tobia seems to have worn some pretty great shoes in some pretty amazing places.

All joking aside though, I loved this book. I loved Tobia’s writing, the honesty, the rawness. I appreciated their vulnerability, especially in sharing their relationships with family and e
Leigh Kramer
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and equal parts moving and funny, Sissy skillfully breaks down the gender binary and our understanding of what it means to be trans.

Tobia shows the importance of moving beyond the “usual trans story,” which is often packaged for cis consumption and does not always honor the trans community. This is illustrated through sharing their own story of understanding their sexuality and then their gender. Tobia discusses the ways they experienced gender-based trauma, some due to limited informat
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Jacob Tobia (they/them) is an actor, writer, producer, and author of the national bestselling memoir Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story. From running across the Brooklyn Bridge in high heels to giving Trevor Noah an on-air makeover on The Daily Show, Jacob helps others embrace the full complexity of their gender, even (and especially) when it’s messy as hell. In addition to adapting their book Sissy ...more

Articles featuring this book

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride Month—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and...
97 likes · 74 comments
“But here’s the remarkable thing about self-love: When you start to love yourself for the first time, when you start to truly embrace who you are—flaws and all—your scars start to look a lot more like beauty marks. The words that used to haunt you transform into badges of pride.” 10 likes
“Ninety-eight percent of discrimination is not overt. Ninety-eight percent of discrimination is infuriatingly subtle. You feel it in the lack of eye contact a person makes with you. You feel it in a noted absence of enthusiasm. You feel it in a hesitation or a slight physical tic. You feel it in a pause that goes on for just a moment too long. You feel it in an uncomfortable clearing of the throat. You feel it when, out of nowhere, the air is sucked from the room as if it’s a NASA vacuum chamber. You feel it everywhere, but there is rarely any hard evidence.” 8 likes
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