In the early '90s, Cindy Crabb Xeroxed her first copy of Doris, an autobiographical feminist zine that she began as a way to "share secrets" about her history of sexual abuse and rant about weighty societal topics from abortion to healthy sexual consent. Eighteen years later, the 41-year-old self-identified gender queer enjoys a 3,000-issue press run that's distributed all over the world.
This week she's coming to Philadelphia from her 80-acre, miniature-horse-inhabited farm in rural Ohio to share her latest work, Encyclopedia of Doris. This compilation of the last 10 years is enhanced with self-doodled illustrations and a handful of new writings — all ripe with material that will pique the interest of Philly's increasingly visible "T" community and, by sharing her own rocky journey to transgenderdom, should provide insight to those having trouble understanding what it means to question typical sex roles.
Though she freely calls herself transgender today, she says she wasn't able to embrace that part of her life until opening up in Doris about what gender categorization truly means. "Writing honestly about the idea of trans was challenging for me, but in the end I learned to totally embrace it," she says. "It helped me overcome my own trans phobia and believe in the human's ability to know who they are instead of [having] someone tell them who they are."
A big part of her success as a writer, she says, lies in a fan base of questioning young gay people who look to her as a positive role model as they begin to figure out their own personal identities. "Doris touches a lot of people because of the personal writing," she says. "It's for those searching for a voice that speaks to their struggle to find themselves."