Descent into Decadence: Authors tackle gender norms at Frankfurt Book Fair with transgender teddy, girl pirate

Descent into Decadence: Authors tackle gender norms at Frankfurt Book Fair with transgender teddy, girl pirate. By AFP.

From a transgender teddy bear to a fearless girl pirate, children’s authors are tackling gender norms like never before, as debate rages about what it means to be a boy or girl.

Visitors at this week’s Frankfurt book fair, the world’s largest publishing event, will be faced with a string of books for young readers that defy stereotypes and navigate today’s hot-button issues of transsexuality and gender fluidity.

Stories with transgender lead characters in particular have broken one of the last “taboos” left in children’s writing, said literary expert Nicola Bardola. …

One of the most headline-grabbing recent titles has been “Introducing Tilly”, a tender story about Thomas the teddy bear who tells a friend: “I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.”

The picture book, aimed at children aged four and older, was written by Australian Jessica Walton who was inspired by her own father’s transition to a woman.

Translated into German last year as “Teddy Tilly”, Bardola called the book “a phenomenon”.

For a slightly older audience, there is US author Alex Gino’s award-winning “George”, which is about a transgender 10-year-old determined to play a female part in the school play.

hat-tip Stephen Neil