I received an e-book version of this title from Edelweiss for review.
It is a very interesting experience to have a hysterectomy when you still have young children. I don’t know when I might have said the word “uterus” to my seven-year-old if I hadn’t been having it removed. As the information we gave him at his level rolled around in his mind, he asked one day, “Only girls have uteruses?”
I flicked my eyes toward him in the rear view mirror, “Most girls have them, but some don’t.”
“Because they had surgery?” he asked.
“That’s true for some girls and women. But other girls and women have bodies that don’t have uteruses for different reasons, but they are still girls and women.”
Having a conversation about transgender identity begins with conversations like this. It doesn’t have to lead to a full spectrum discussion in the first iteration. It begins with sharing information that is factual and not making a big deal of it. This kind of openness also creates an environment of trust for a child (or another adult) to ask further questions as the occasion arises.
Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity is a helpful tool in that conversation. It has bright pictures and easy language to describe things like identity, personal expression, and gender. The child-applicable portion of the book is very brief, though engaging. This book is and will be an amazing tool for parents, teachers, and others who work with kids to have to go alongside other books and conversations.
After the section for children, there is a guide for having conversations about gender and identity. There is language for helping a child understand what it means that “you decide who you are” and “you say who you are”. This book will also be useful for kids to have words that go beyond binaries and dualism.
When I completed reading this book, the first thing I did was go to the website of my local library and figure out how to donate a book to the library. I will be purchasing a copy for my library and for my own office. While there are many people who equivocate by saying that they never had this kind of conversation as a child or that “those people” didn’t exist before, lying about history doesn’t erase it. We cannot undo the pain that was and is real for many people, including families that still wrestle with the grief of the suicides of LGBTQI+ people.
We can, however, do better. This book is but a small tool in the toolbox of knowing better and doing better. I highly commend it to you.