‘My Dad thinks I’m a boy named Stephen who likes wrestling and fishing. But that’s what my Dad likes.’ Stephie is 7 years old. She likes bugs, books and spaghetti. Also, she’s a girl… which should be pretty easy to understand, right? Well, not for her Dad! He’s been mistaking her for a boy since she was born and struggles to see her for who she is. This powerful and uplifting comic book for primary age children and their families humorously portrays a situation that is often too common, where a trans child is forced to negotiate between their true self and their parents’ love. With amusing illustrations, and a useful guide for adults, it’s the perfect book to help show children that no one else than ourselves gets to decide who we are.
What a lovely book! I read this with Sophie (aged 6) and Jack (aged 10), who are both cisgender children (cisgender is a term for people who’s gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth). I felt the story might be a bit young for Jack, but he enjoyed it and had a lot of questions.
The first half of the book is told from Stephie’s point of view; as she explains her frustrations of having a dad who does not understand that although she was born with a body that looks like a boy’s, she is in fact a girl. It upsets her that her dad insists on calling her by a boy’s name and tries to get her to do things that he considers activities for boys, things that Stephie doesn’t enjoy. Like children often are, she’s very thoughtful of her dad’s feelings, but we all feel quite sad for Stephie having to deal with this. I particularly like how the author emphasizes that nobody, not even a parent gets to decide who a child is but themselves.
The second half of the book is made up of questions for further discussion, aimed at teachers and educators and there are suggestions for similar books. We went through quite a few of the questions, which prompted a really productive conversation between myself and the children. I think this book is so important and I would love to see it available in schools and libraries. Trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming children need and deserve to feel seen and represented and it’s so important for cis gendered children to be educated.
☆☆☆☆☆ 5 Stars
Thank you very much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Sophie Labelle and Netgalley for an E-ARC of this book.