Out of the Mouth of My Babe

Be Who You Are cover“Mom, write this down.”

Sam and I had just read Be Who You Are, a lovely book about a transgender child, biologically a boy, whose parents affirm her desire to live as a girl. I’d told Sam that I’d been asked to review the book, and I wanted to know what he thought.

Here’s what Sam had to say:

This book was pretty great in some ways and okay in some ways. I recommend it for people who really do feel like they’re one gender on the outside and a different one on the inside. But for other people, I really do not recommend it.

I asked Sam why. He explained:

I wish there were just kids. Sure, boys and girls are important, when you get older, for making babies. But for kids, who cares? A lot of my friends are girls. And that’s just hard for kids like me. The world would be a better place if there were only kids and not divided into “boy” or “girl.” Mom, can you underline that? The world would be a better place if there were only kids and not divided into boy or girl. And there were just kids. If there were just kids things would work a lot better and boys and girls would be friends with each other and there would be less problems and people wouldn’t make fun of each other at school and everyone would accept it and there wouldn’t be anything weird and life would be a better place.

Sam captured how I feel about all children’s literature about gender expression—actually, about how our entire culture views gender.

Be Who You Are is a wonderful book about a transgender child, and it’s a breakthrough to have a book like this in the world. And yet, when kids like Sam read books about trans kids, it reinforces that they don’t fit into either gender-normative society or transgender society. Carr’s book reflects the lives of the kids who do fit in a gender box—just not the box they’re expected to fit in. What of the kids who don’t fit in either box?

I was thrilled to learn that Cheryl Kilodavis’ self-published book My Princess Boy was recently picked up by Simon and Schuster, and is now available in hardcover. The book has quickly made a splash in the publishing world, and is already being used as an anti-bullying tool in schools across the country.My Princess Boy image

I talked to Sam about how, together, books like Be Who You Are and My Princess Boy are already expanding how grown-ups and kids look at all the ways people can express their innate gender.

These are great books. And we need more books to reflect the entire range of gender diversity. Because our kids are out there, and they need to see themselves not only reflected but accepted, dignified, and celebrated.

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Comments

  1. says

    One of my biggest pet peeves: “boy” & “girl” lit. Really? I want my kids to love Harriet the Spy & I want my girl to crave pancakes after reading Nate the Great.

    Sam’s got his finger on the pulse.

  2. says

    Interesting. Just as Sam might feel like the book doesn’t fit the way he feels inside, my daughter doesn’t identify with The Princess Boy at all. Everyone needs their own story told. I guess that’s the beauty of this world- that there doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all answer to anything. If we can be true to ourselves and feel good about our expression, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it, especially when it doesn’t match their own.

    • shoffman says

      Jennifer, exactly. What you have done with your book is amazing, a huge step forward for transgender kids. I am getting so many positive comments about it from my readers, both on the book review post and in private emails. People are very moved, and THRILLED to have your book as a resource. And what the world needs is many books that reflect the diversity of all our kids.

  3. Delia says

    It never fails to amaze me how wise and clear-sighted children can be. As much as I look forward to reading Be Who You Are, I confess that what I would really like to read is a book written by Sam. (Hint, hint.)

  4. Melissa says

    We dropped off our children at school today. Both were born boys, but one feels like a girl inside and one thinks girls clothes are pretty cool. Ironically, my daughter wore pants (albeit pink ones) and my son decided to wear a dress today. It was with visible relief that our teacher accepted the book My Princess Boy as a classroom resource and we are awaiting Jennifer’s book to give to the school as well. I’m thankful that the educators in our circle are eager to have resources like this as gender non-conformity is easier to recognize and more accepted. But, I agree. We need more books. I love Jennifer’s comment that maybe each child needs their story told. What a beautiful thought.

  5. says

    Thanks for stopping by my little slice of the blogosphere, Sarah, and introducing me to your wonderful blog. As a parent, you are truly one of the special ones, and your writings here are definitely an inspiration.

    I love the fact that you’ve involved Sam in reviewing the book. That’s such a great way to approach the subject!

  6. Mary says

    I’ve just found your blog and I think I love your son…no, I know I do! “Just Kids” What a wonderful world it would be. Thanks for being just a mom who loves your just a kid!

    My grandson (whom I am raising) loves a good pair of high heels and lots of girl (and boy) toys. Who cares?! He is who is, he will be who he will be. I love him. Period!

    • shoffman says

      Hi Mary. Welcome. And it’s so good to hear that you are supporting your grandson just as he is, giving him all the love he deserves! -SH

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