Study Guide

Punkzilla Gender

By Adam Rapp


She told me I had a lovely face and that I possessed an androgynous beauty and how I must be appealing to both sexes […] I felt like stabbing her with her fork like I got mad homicidal feelings because of her comment. (5.47)

Mags's comment comes one paragraph before Jamie meets Alan Skymer, who molests him.

He said he thought I was some dykey butch chick from Eugene who was trying to act tough and I was like "You'd fight a girl?" and he said he'd fight a dyke any day of the week…(5.94)

Branson's violent reaction is based on the fact that a lesbian stole his Cypress Hill records. The way we react to a person often has less to do with that person than what someone who they remind us did to us in the past.

When I walked into the women's bathroom I could feel a sick tingling in my nuts P like I was walking through some weird fog of gasoline and animal breath or something. (8.35)

After being attacked in the men's room of a bus stop, Jamie walks into the women's. Sam has just referred to him as "she," and he's testing to see if he can actually pass.

I mean I LIKE girls like in a SEXUAL way but I don't want to BE one! Does that make me like PART LESBIAN or something? Because I LIKE girls AND I LOOK LIKE ONE? (8.37)

Figuring out your sexuality is difficult enough without having it complicated by your gender presentation.

I asked her if she really was confused about my gender and she said she thought I might be "some little dyke-job from Gillette looking to hook up." (12.22)

Erin, the girl working behind the desk at the Lakeside Motel in Buffalo, Wyoming, is under the mistaken assumption that small-town gay people go to even smaller towns when they want to get some action.

He said a drag queen is a man who likes to dress up in women's clothes and a drag KING is a woman who likes to dress up in MEN'S clothes and wear fake mustaches and put cowboy boots on and perform a lot of karaoke. (12.45)

Drag kings doing karaoke could be seen as a step up or a step down from drag queens doing lip sync, depending on your perspective (and the singing skills of the drag king in question).

What was weird P and I mean REALLY FUCKING WEIRD was that even though Lewis just told me he used to be a woman and had his titties removed I really believed he was a man. And the more I talked to him the more it seemed that way. (12.48)

Jamie learns his first, deeply confusing truth of gender identity: It's not always what you think it is, but it is always what someone thinks they are.

[…] he said T won't grow you a dick but it does other things like changes your body in subtler ways like you start to get facial hair and your voice gets deeper and you get more aggressive. (12.51)

T is the hormone testosterone, which some trans men take to develop male sexual characteristics. Most of the changes Lewis is talking about are permanent, even if you stop taking it, but it won't magically grow you a penis.

[…] I asked him why he wanted to be a man and he said "Because that's how I see myself. That's how I've always felt on the inside." (12.53)

Both Jamie and Lewis are fighting to have the world see them as straight guys; they're just coming at it from different biology.

Then I asked him if he thought I looked like a girl and he said that I have "softer features than your average bear" but that I definitely ACTED like a boy. (12.53)

Lewis understands the importance of simultaneously validating Jamie's gender identity and being honest about his physicality. Now we're picturing a punk bear with a bad dye job.