Kisses for Jet: A Coming-of-Gender Story

Kisses for Jet is a graphic novel set in the Netherlands in 1999. Jet, sixteen, is sent to live in a boarding house when their parents move abroad to (mysteriously) take care of the Millennium Bug.

In this coming-of-gender story, Jet moves towards the realisation that they feel less connected to the gender they were assigned at birth. Jet’s lack of familiarity with the process of transitioning and their gradual exploration of their gender in a physical way (by binding their chest, scrapbooking their head onto different bodies, dressing in traditionally masculine clothes) is not helped by their lack of access to information. Jet’s best friend Sasha helps Jet to find out more, showing them a VHS of an interview with transgender men (an eye-opener for Jet), calling a gender team helpline on their behalf, and persuading them to attend an appointment at a gender clinic.

The story fits neatly into the current resurgence of Nineties nostalgia. There are grunge song titles listed at the bottom of some pages, and a cassette box with a playlist at the end of the book. These, alongside other references to Nineties and Noughties technology and terminology give this queer story a clear contextual and historical setting. Jet’s journey and friendships are endearing, funny, and authentic, helped no doubt by the lived experience of author Joris Bas Backer. This title should be given a permanent spot in any recommended list of LGBTQIA+ YA reads.