I felt wary about checking out The Pants Project because, as far as I can tell, this is not an #ownvoices book and, honestly? I’m kind of tired of cis authors writing what feels like the same trans story over and over again. (Also, the wording of the synopsis raised some flags for me.) But I’d heard good things about this middle grade novel, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I ended up reading this straight through! I could not put it down. I loved the characters and the representation (a trans main character, a happy, close-knit family with two moms, and a secondary character with a disability). I enjoyed the storyline and above all, the hopefulness! Everything about this book reflects the problems middle school kids face, especially if they or their families are diverse. I saw a lot of my own students’ personalities in these characters: the way they think through things, as well as their passion and determination when confronting challenges.
Some cis reviewers have complained that this book is “too cheery.” Stop it. Let trans kids have their positive stories, too. Trans stories shouldn’t have to be “difficult enough” for you to find it “believable.” There is a wide variety of experiences out there, not all tragic.
Overall this is a happy, feel-good book with just enough conflict for its target age group. Through diverse characters, the story encourages readers to consider the experiences and feelings of others, without objectifying them via tragedy or inspiration.
Disclaimer: I’m demi, married to a trans woman, but I don’t identify as trans. So, be sure to read Nicole Field’s review of The Pants Project.