Sharing this post on social media? Use this description to make it accessible: [Image description: Illustration from ‘When Aidan Became A Brother,’ by Kyle Lukoff & Kaylani Juanita. A young, transgender, multiracial boy wearing a cape, cargo shorts, and bunny slippers. His cape is made from scraps of old dresses his parents gave him that he didn’t feel comfortable in, and one of the patches resembles the trans pride flag. He looks into the distance with pride and determination, holding a stick as a make-believe magical staff.]
How can adults support trans kids?
- Stop centering themselves in discussions about their child’s gender.
- Stop outing their kids on the internet before kids are old enough to understand and consent to the ramifications.
- Find, listen, boost, and support adults who share their child’s identity.
- When a kid tells you their gender, believe them.
I also asked her – What are the three most important things she would tell younger trans people?
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It’s getting too cumbersome to regularly update these posts as I find new books – so I’ll only include the ones the Earthquakes asked to read over and over and over right here. But you can find a deeper, comprehensive list of trans-kid-approved validating, normalizing & destigmatizing stories over here. I’ll be updating it regularly, in our Bookshop list of Kids Books on Transgender Representation & Resilience.
- When Aidan Became A Brother – Validating & shows kids how to be an accomplice for the next generation.
- Red: A Crayon’s Story – Validating & destigmatizing
- Introducing Teddy – written by a queer author raised by a trans parent, best for cis accomplices on how to be a good friend.
- Max And The Talent Show – Max, a trans boy, supports his gender-creative cis friend who loves drag.
- Doodleville – Normalizing trans characters.
- Lumber Janes – Jo, a math & logic whiz of Navajo/Diné decent, is trans, and her identity is disclosed around volume 4.
#OwnVoices trans, non-binary & gender creative kidlit makers
- Alex Gino (they/them)
- Breena Nuñez (she/her or they/them)
- Jazz Jennings (she/her)
- Joy Ellison (they/them)
- Kai Cheng Thom (she/her)
- Koja Adeyoha (she/her)
- Kyle Lukoff (he/him)
- Lilah Sturges (she/her)
- Matthew SG (he/him)
- Nabi Ali (he/him)
- Noah Grigni (they/them)
- Phoenix Finch (she/her)
- Sophie Labelle (she/her)
- Trinity Neal (she/her)
- Lauren Simkin Berke (avoid pronouns, but accepts they/them in a pinch)
You might also like: Books about LGBTQiA2S+ History for kids
Which books didn’t make it?
There are a few books I did not include on our full list of positive representation & resilience for trans kids – but which you might see on other websites.
Here’s a quick rundown of examples, and why they didn’t make the cut:
For older kids, you’re going to see recommendations for a graphic novel called Witch Boy floating around – I have deep reservations about this story and how it feeds stereotypes about dysphoria and stigmatizing people with mental health conditions as violent. I’m gonna review it and talk over my hesitations with a trans kid this month, and see how they feel about it.
For our youngest readers: check out We are Little Feminist Families, which isn’t on bookshop but you can order it there. (transparency! I helped screen & edit the photos.)
#OwnVoices illustrator, but kind of problematic (dead naming & wiggly mis-gendering): Were I Not A Girl about James Barry. There’s also other book about him, called ’The Cottonwool Doctor’ – neither one gets into the best parts about Barry and his abrasive personality (or misogyny, depending on how you look at it), which is a shame.
Why is Julian is a mermaid not on this list? ‘Cause trans people aren’t mythical creatures, and Love’s decision to make another whitewashed (and bland) sequel reinforces my hesitations about white authors profiting off brown-faced figments of their imagination. She completely disregarded criticism from Afro-Caribbean trans folks before barreling ahead with the franchise as Julian attends proceeds to move through the world like a white kid. These books were designed to make white people feel inclusive with a safe model minority character, and that is why they are so popular. This is a problem.
WRITE THESE BOOKS ’cause they don’t exist yet: We need kids books celebrating trans activist Pauline Park, trans goddess Guanyin & fluid Loki, and a Ballad of Mulan (I think my fave is by Song Nan Zhang. Also please boycott the most recent disney movie please & thanks) that gives kids space to consider Mulan not as a dutiful daughter, but a trans man grabbing an opportunity to be himself.
Still waiting on a requested copy of The Fighting Infantryman, illustrated Nabi Ali, a South Asian #OwnVoices trans illustrator (he/him), but written by Rob Sanders, who tends to be very white-, cis- and dude-centered in his take on LGBTQ history. I have mixed hopes.
Reflection Press, also an #OwnVoices LGBTQiA2S+ indie press, and their books are fantastic. I’ve included a few in the lists and you can also check out our maker spotlight with them here.
Quick reminder: Boycott Harry Potter books & merch – if you must read the books but don’t want to profit this terrible human, borrow a used copy. Honestly though, we read through HP1 with Q this summer and it really doesn’t hold up in 2020. It’s not just awful – body-shaming, sexist, racist, misogynist, full of transmisia and other garbage – it’s also just terribly written. Q got halfway through book two before the disgust overwhelmed his curiosity about the chamber of secrets.
You might also like: Beyond the Binary: Why We Need Gender Creative Characters
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Protect Trans Kids
I you find my shenanigans helpful and want to keep this website free & accessible for all – join our Patreon community so I can keep it up.
But if your resources are limited – first support the Trans Women of Color Collective [TWOCC], a youth-, trans-, BIWOC-led organization elevating the voices and leadership oportunities for trans women of color.
“There is a critical need for trans youth of color led initiatives that cultivate affirming spaces for our communities to engage in healing and restorative justice. We lean in with an intentional response to the trauma our community has endured by leading with the voices and leadership of our youth and young people.” – TWOCC