Introducing Teddy Is the Sweet Children’s Book That Teaches Kids About Being Transgender

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(Via Kickstarter)

Children’s books are delightful and entertaining and also edifying. They are useful for teaching children about the world and about the people around them, but so far there has been a sad paucity of books that teach children about what it means to be transgender, but now one mom, teacher, and daughter has written one of her own.

According to SheKnows, Jessica Walton is a new mother and former teacher from Melbourne, Australia. She was looking for a book with trans characters for her son Errol, because Jessica has a transgender parent and she wanted to help Errol understand what that meant. When Walton couldn’t find a book for Errol’s age range, she decided to write one herself.

“We wanted to find books that had transgender characters, and there are some out there, but none that are really aimed at the kind of [babies-to-5] kind of age range. So we wanted something really simple and sweet,” Walton said. “Where someone would say, ‘This is who I am,’ and the characters around them would say, ‘Great, no worries, let’s go and play.'”

That’s pretty much exactly what happens in Walton’s book, Introducing Teddy. The story is about a little boy named Errol whose best friend is a teddy bear called Thomas. But Errol’s teddy bear says that she is a girl teddy bear, and she wants to be called Tilly.

Walton self-published Introducing Teddy with funding from Kickstarter, and according to the book’s Kickstarter page, everything turns out just fine after Tilly gives Errol her big news:

“Errol is relieved that nothing is wrong. ‘I’ll always be your friend!’ he tells Teddy.

Errol calls his cousin Ava. When Ava meets them at the park, she greets Teddy as Thomas. Errol explains that Teddy is a girl, and introduces her as Tilly. ‘What a lovely name!’ says Ava, ‘Let’s go and play!’ The three of them have fun at the park together.”

The book finishes with Errol and Tilly doing all of the things they did at the start of the book, illustrating that the two are still the best of friends. It’s a wonderful way to handle the story. There’s no drama. No pain. Tilly just says she is a girl, and her friends all react positively and they go on just like they always did. There’s no reason Errol can’t be best friends with Tilly once he knows she’s a girl. If anything, their friendship is stronger for the experience.

“We felt that there must be more families out there with transgender grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, cousins and friends who would appreciate a gentle, positive story with a transgender character,” Walton said. She’s right.

Children are going to encounter trans friends at school and transgender relatives, and they could use a book that lets them know that their trans friends and relatives are still their friends and relatives. This book seems like it takes just the right approach and could be a good addition to any kid’s bookshelf.