6 Picture Books To Celebrate International Transgender Day Of Visibility

Today we celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination they face. Sadly, In the United States, we don’t have to look hard to see the discrimination faced by trans people. With multiple anti-trans laws aimed at transgender youth being introduced, it’s hard to ignore the challenges faced by the trans community. This push to remove the healthcare and privacy rights of transgender children is a reminder that we have a long way to go.

As parents, we need to ensure we introduce our children to transgender people positively, and not through a conversation about whether someone deserves to have health care, play on a sports team, or use a specific bathroom. If we want to foster acceptance in the next generation, we must teach our cisgender children to open their hearts and minds and see their transgender friends, classmates, and acquaintances as human beings and not a problem to be solved.

So in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to share a few picture books that can help facilitate these conversations with our children. Each of these books provides representation for trans kids to feel visible, while also providing a look into the trans experience for cisgender children.

So without further ado, here they are.

They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew SG (Bookshop | Amazon)

They She He Me: Free to Be! is a fantastic introduction to gender and pronouns for young readers. With pronouns repeated on each page paired with a diverse range of people, this book beautifully illustrates that there is no one way people who use a specific pronoun look. The back matter contains matter-of-fact information about pronouns, as well as a lovely author’s note about Maya and Matthew’s experiences with parenting and pronouns. This is an amazing resource to help young children understand gender expression and encourage them to embrace everyone’s identity.

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, Illustrated by Mika Song (Bookshop | Amazon)

Inspired by a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior tells the story of a young girl who doesn’t see herself as a girl or a boy. Ho’onani is just Ho’onani. When her teacher announces that the school will perform a traditional hula chant, Ho’onani knows she wants to take part, though boys traditionally performed hula chants. We follow Ho’onani on her path to becoming a hula warrior, as Ho’onani’s sister struggles to understand and accept Ho’onani’s identity. With its message of understanding and acceptance, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a wonderful celebration of both identity and the Hawaiian culture.

When Aiden Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Bookshop | Amazon)

One of my personal favorites, When Aiden Became A Brother, tells the story of a young transgender boy and his journey toward becoming a big brother. Following along from Aiden’s initial coming out, all the way to the celebration of his younger siblings, this book is all about love and acceptance. When Aiden Became A Brother is perfect for any kid who is expecting a younger sibling, but especially trans kids themselves.

47,000 Beads by Koja Adeyoha and Angel Adeyoha, Illustrated by Holly McGillis (Bookshop | Amazon)

47,000 Beads tells the story of Peyton, who doesn’t want to dance in her jingle dress at Pow Wow. After she talks to her Auntie about her feeling, her Auntie gathers her community, along with a two-spirit mentor to show Peyton the love and support she deserves on her journey to discovering her path. This is an incredibly heartwarming story that teaches us all the importance of embracing our differences and being there for the people we love.

Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children by Michelle Finch and Pheonix Finch, Illustrated by Shannon Davey (Bookshop | Amazon)

Based on Phoenix Finch’s real life experiences, Phoenix Goes To School follows a young transgender girl as she deals with the anxiety of wearing a dress on the first day of school. This is such an influential book for young readers, because all kids can relate to the anxiety of starting a new school year and meeting new friends. Empowering trans kids and fostering acceptance in cisgender kids, this is a lovely pick for any young reader.

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison, Illustrated by Tekisha Silver (Bookshop | Amazon)

Perfect for the kids who love picture book biographies, Sylvia and Marsha Start A Revolution is all about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, trans activists and women of color who played a vital role in sparking the Stonewall Riots. This book by trans and queer creators provides an introduction to LGBTQ+ history and the issues that the trans community faces without erasing the women of color we have to thank for Pride today.

I hope you enjoyed this list and found a few more resources to encourage acceptance and understanding in your little ones.

I also hope that you use today to reflect on the issues faced by the trans community, and educate yourself on any harmful laws in the works in your area, especially if you live in the United States. Trans children of America deserve our love and support, and we can show up for them by fighting against the many anti-trans laws being proposed in our country..

Do you have favorite titles featuring transgender characters? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

Please Note: This list originally included the title Who Are You by Brooke Pessin-Whedbee. I removed this title because it was brought to my attention that there are plagiarism issues with this book. For more information, I encourage you to view Maya Gonzalez’s blog post regarding this issue.

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