A lot of people have asked me how C “handles” her dad being trans. I never know how to answer because to me, it feels like asking “how does your child handle her dad being tall?” I forget that to many people, this is news; but to us, this is simply our family. We are who we are, we feel pretty normal, to be honest. Plus, we have a wonderfully supportive circle of friends (y’all know who you are!). So C doesn’t really have anything to “handle”…at least not yet, at her age.
But being asked this question so many times got me thinking: Should I be pointing out that we are different? That some of our friends are different? What those differences are? Have I missed picking up on any questions she may have but not know how to express? I thought I’d stop by the library and pick up a few books that speak to inclusion, and see what her reaction would be.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole
My friend April at The Steadfast Reader has praised this book so often, I knew it had to be at the top of my list. This is a true story about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who pair up, longed for a baby penguin of their own, and were finally given that chance. Really, this is such a sweet and moving little story, I don’t understand how people who have actually read it can be outraged at all.
The Family Book by Todd Parr
My friend Pam is one of the most kindhearted people I know, so when she recommends a children’s author whose books foster that same trait (in this case, Todd Parr), I listen. Parr’s books deliver messages of love and kindness in a very simple, unobtrusive way—and with brightly-colored illustrations that are a lot of fun. This particular title portrays all kinds of families and celebrates what makes them unique. Noisy or quiet, clean or messy, same color or different colors, one kid or many, single parent, same-sex parents, or grandparents raising their grandkids—it’s clear that the most important characteristic of any family is one that is common to all: love.
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis, illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
The author’s son Dyson inspired this story about a 4-year-old who loves sparkles and dresses and loves climbing trees and playing with his big brother. He has complete freedom to be himself; his parents don’t force him to conform to gender stereotypes. Not much about this book struck C as out of the ordinary. She enjoyed the illustrations and related to Dyson easily (C tends to break gender-specific play stereotypes, too). The only thing that she found confusing (and upsetting): Why did some people laugh at Dyson?
I didn’t have anything to worry about, and I kind of already knew that. These stories were met with affection, simple curiosity, and caring. I know one day C will come into contact with people who are vocal about—even proud of—their bigotry. Hopefully her own experiences will give her the confidence to shake that off, to remember you can’t go wrong when you put human dignity and love first.