When Jo Hirst was unable to find a suitable resource to help her young son describe his experience of being transgender, Hirst decided to write her own. The Gender Fairy is her new book for young children aged four years+ to read with their parents or teachers to support transgender children and their families.
The Gender Fairy begins with a story of gender stereotyping: two babies who are born and bought presents in pink or blue. And the gender fairy (who has a non-binary gender identity) answers questions for two young transgender children. Can I use a male toilet? (Yes, you are a boy). Can I wear girl's clothes? (Yes, wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable).
Roz Ward, Manager of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, collaborated with Hirst in preparing the novel’s accompanying parent and teacher notes.
“It is great for schools to have books like this available to facilitate discussions with students around gender identity and different experiences people have,” says Roz.
Safe Schools Coalition Australia has released a popular new guide called Supporting a Student to Affirm or Transition Gender Identity at School. It provides step by step advice for schools to meet the needs of transgender and gender diverse students, and is suitable for both primary and secondary schools.
"Now all my friends will understand me" - Peter Age 7
“I think understanding [gender diversity] in the classroom is crucial,” says The Gender Fairy author Jo Hirst. “It’s a picture book designed for very young children… to be read aloud by teachers, with notes at the back for parents and teachers that are very age appropriate,” she says. A list of FAQ’s are included on the book’s website, which answers questions like ‘Is there a right age to introduce this book to children?’ and ‘Should I wait until I meet a transgender child/ have a transgender child in my class, before I read this book to my child/ students?’
Safe Schools Coalition Australia will soon release a booklist that will have the latest LGBTI-themed books for young adults and children. Be sure to refer to it when reviewing your school library’s collection!