‘Girl brain… boy body’: Representations of trans characters in children’s picture books

Clare Bartholomaeus, Damien W. Riggs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


While an increasing number of children disclose that they are trans, there are few resources aimed at children which include representations of trans people. This chapter presents a comprehensive audit of picture books portraying trans characters. Despite their potential usefulness, many of the books perpetuate normative discourses about gender and display only narrow forms of acceptance. Three key aspects are analysed: 1) adherence to a binary model of gender, 2) ‘appropriate’ gendered clothing, behaviours and interests and 3) the reliance on professionals for diagnosis. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential importance of books with trans characters for children, both for trans children so that they can see themselves reflected in the world around them, and for cisgender children so that they are aware of trans people’s lives.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emergence of Trans
Subtitle of host publicationCultures, Politics and Everyday Lives
EditorsRuth Pearce, Igi Moon, Kat Gupta, Deborah Lynn Steinberg
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherCarfax Publishing, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781351381567, 9781315145815
ISBN (Print)9781138504097, 9781138504103
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameGender, Bodies and Transformation


  • children’s picture books
  • trans characters
  • trans people
  • binary model of gender
  • gendered behaviours
  • trans children


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