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The Stories We Tell Ourselves: The Beginning of a Book about Sex and Gender for Trans* and Intersex Kids

jfwright's picture

I've decided to create a tumblr URL for this project. Not only is it more public that way, but I also have an easier time loading images.

The blog is not currently password protected. If I chose to create a password for this blog, I'll comment on this webpaper.


Kaye's picture

expanding understanding of sex and gender for children

I find the kid-friendly illustrations for your children's book on sex and gender to be wonderfully appealing!  They are simple in design, yet still express character and diversity.  I also like how you've included yourself as the genderqueer narrator, who conveys a kind, somewhat teacherly manner and reminds me of The Magic School Bus books my children and I enjoyed reading.

You explain clearly and convincingly why developing a book for children who are trans* or intersex is so important and I do hope that you'll continue this for your final project in the class.  However, your plan to address both trans* and intersex, chromosomes and hormones, pregnancy and puberty, discrimination and pride may be overly ambitious (even for a final project.)  I think it would be more doable (and fulfilling) if you chose a subset of these topics. I'm also concerned that including both trans* and intersex in the same book could be confusing to young children.  I imagine that parents might choose this book because their child is trans* (or is intersex), but it's unlikely that the child is both.  (Maybe you can think of this as the first book of a series?)  I would suggest that you focus on trans* and not intersex since you acknowledge that "I haven’t talked to anyone who is intersex (that I know of)" and  "I’d like to include an explanation of ambiguous genitalia, and what sometimes happens when doctors decide to change a child’s body soon after birth. I’m stuck on how to illustrate this."  By not struggling with how to represent intersex at this time, you could devote more energy and creativity to explaining the prejudices that queer and trans* people face, which is such an important topic. 

Some other comments:  When you develop your section on chromosomes, consider using the metaphor of cookbooks with recipes.  I think that might be a more familiar concept for young children than blueprints.  In the text on your hormone page, I like how you highlight that everyone has both testosterone and estrogen (and I think it's right not to make it more complicated than that), but I would drop the word "more" before "messages," i.e., "testosterone gives more messages like, “sweat more!” ..." and "estrogen gives out more messages during puberty like..."

I also encourage you not to include anything about surgeries for children this young.  I imagine that the idea of any kind of surgery could scare them and would be at odds with your message that having different private parts is normal.

You mentioned that your work at the Mazzoni Center inspired you to use gingerbread people to illustrate gender expression--which I think is great.  I wonder if you'd like to develop an appendix with links to Mazzoni and other genderqueer organizations and groups so that children and their parents could get more information.

Finally, do you know any parents of 5-7 year old children who could give you feedback on the book?  I'd be interested in hearing from them (or from talking to people who work at a children's book store or are teachers in K-2) the amount of text per page that is typical for this age group, how many new words they can readily absorb on one page, etc.

I look forward to seeing how this book develops and would be happy to talk more about it with you.