Sharing this post on social media? Use this description to make it accessible: [Image description: Illustration from ‘Rachel’s Christmas Boat,’ by Sophie Labelle. A young girl and her parent hug.]
2022 Update: Content warning for sexualization and grooming of children
Ugh, defensive, fragile, ignorant responses to reports of harm is why we can’t have nice things. Members of the Raising Luminaries community brought some recent events to my attention regarding Labelle’s portrayal of children in her material for adults. A quick breakdown on how we deal with things like this.
- As nice as it would be to do the easy thing and delete this post, we don’t delete posts about books by authors who do problematic things. This hides important info from our members and ends the conversation, and it’s lazy and cowardly. So this post is gonna stay up, with the updates here so you can make an informed decision on what conversations to have as a family.
- Sophie Labelle has admitted to, and then tried to defend, sexualizing children in her adult-only content. We don’t have to jump to conclusions about Labelle, or give more fodder to transphobes – so don’t pull that shit here. This is one lady’s behavior we’re talking about.
- Labelle has a long history of being harassed and targeted by ableist transphobes. Talking about what she’s doing recently is not an endorsement of these attacks on her identity, her decision to talk openly about gender education with kids (I agree with this!) This update based on Labelle’s recent actions and her response to people who have drawn her attention to the harm she’s doing.
- While Labelle’s children’s books do not sexualize children, her problematic content is viewable for the kids who regularly follow her work, and there is a risk that recommending her books in Raising Luminaries will lead to families and children following her adult work.
- In the Raising Luminaries community, we’re dedicated to ending violence and harm against multiply-targeted people, and centering their voices. In this circumstance, we’re centering the requests and calls to action of transgender survivors of childhood sexual violence and grooming.
With Labelle’s most recent responses justifying her behavior, we can no longer recommend her children’s books. We don’t do ‘cancelling’ or punishment culture here, so here’s what a restorative process would look like if we’re to stay in community with Labelle. We suggest Labelle participates in a community accountability process to:
- Listen to survivors to learn about, acknowledge, and openly address the way her artwork sexualizing children normalizes and condones violence against children without excusing her past behavior.
- Follow the guidance and calls to make amends provided by the people she has harmed with her original artwork and defense of it.
- Stop creating artwork that sexualizes young children and replace the offending content on her spaces with an acknowledgement that she has done harm, recognition of how her adult-focused work harms real children, and centers survivor-led transformative justice organizations to support survivors, such as the BATJC.
Gratitude and deep thanks to A.M. for first bringing this to our community’s attention.
Rachel’s Christmas Boat
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When Lulu’s Dad tells her that she’s going to change her name to Rachel, does Lulu:
A. Freak out and make it about all about Lulu?
B. Kick her dad out of the house and disown her despite the fact that Rachel is still the same exact loving parent she was before her transition?
C. Accept Rachel with love and acceptance, because her dad is her dad is her dad – and Lulu loves her for who she is, not what gender she presents as?
Rachel’s transition isn’t about Lulu
[Answer: It’s C.]
Unlike most children’s stories about gender transition, Rachel’s transition is just a life event – similar to the ones many loving families across the world go through.
What I love most about this book is that Rachel’s transition isn’t the main focus of the story – the FOCUS of the story is how Lulu can support her dad (Rachel still keeps the title of ‘dad’) after realizing Rachel’s Christmas presents are covered with Rachel’s dead name.
Lulu’s effort shows kids that they can support and affirm family members and friends going through gender transition, reminding them that they are welcome and loved.
You might also like:
- Kids Books About Learning To Be An Accomplice
- Diverse Family Constellations In Kids Books
- Why We Need These Gender Creative Characters In Kidlit
- Christmas Stories for Secular Families
- Transgender Representation & Resilience for Kids
- LGBTQiA2S+ History Picture Books
- Christmas stories for secular families
Is this book #OwnVoices?
Transparency & Cahoots
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Protect Trans Kids
If my work makes it easier for you to raise kind & courageous kiddos, you can keep these resources free for everybody by sharing this post with your friends and reciprocate by supporting my work directly.
But if your resources are limited – first support OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley – providing support & safe community for LGBTQ youth & allies in an anti-LGBTQiA2S+ community.
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