The Chicken House, 2009
Gender-conformity concerns – Infant-Preschool
Patrick the penguin is horrified to wake up pink one morning. Boys can’t be pink! He will be teased at school! This is the end of the world!
Patrick’s parents reassure him that it’s okay to be different, and his father pulls out a book of birds of the world to show him photographs of flamingos, half of whom are definitely boys.
But after a few days of misery, Patrick packs his knapsack, and tells his parents he’s going to Africa where he will fit in better with the flamingo flocks. To his dismay, while the flamingos are friendly, he doesn’t fit it there either. He can’t fish like they do, and he can’t fly like they do. And the water is awfully warm for a penguin.
When he returns home, he is welcomed by friends, classmates, and family alike, and gives a presentation in class about everything he learned about flamingos.
Maybe being a pink penguin isn’t the end of the world after all.
This is a great book to use with children about feeling comfortable about their differences, and also to potentially explore gender issues with.
Also available in Spanish: ¡Pink! El pingüino que se volvió rosa. Trapella Books, 2010.
In Dirty Laundry: Stories About Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Faustino. New York: Viking, 1998.
Transgender – Middle School/High School
Randy discovers he has an uncle whom the family doesn’t talk about. He discovers why when George arrives for an unexpected visit, planning to stay while he transitions to Gladys. Randy’s parents struggle to accept Gladys, but Randy is open-minded about his aunt-to-be.
[Los Angeles]: Institute for Gay Men’s Health, c2004.
Gay/Transgender – Adult/Teen interest
This bi-lingual graphic novel tells the story of a Cuban exile who first thinks he’s gay, then realizes he’s really transgender.
Some “mature” content.
Transgender – Preschool/Elementary School
Nick has felt like a girl for as long as he can remember. When he tells his parents, they tell him they love him any way he feels. Nick’s parents let him grow his hair, buy him dresses, and when things start getting difficult at school, they talk to his teacher, and take him to a therapist who supports children “who felt like they were born in the wrong body.”
Nick continues to identify as a girl, and tells her parents that she doesn’t want to be called a boy, or be called Nick anymore. They support her decision to change her name to Hope, and when she wants to meet other children like her, they find other families with children like her that she can play with and talk to.
Hope’s little brother, Will, is relieved that they can still share a room, but doesn’t know what it will be like to have a sister instead of a brother. The family goes to the library to check out books about sisters and brothers loving each other, which makes him feel better.
Will has questions for Hope, which she always answers, and he is relieved when she says she is the same person as always and will always love him.
Originally published in Analog, August, 1989; included in Borders of Infinity. Baen, 1989; and also in Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem. Baen, 2001.
Intersex – Adult/Teen Interest
In this novella in the Vorkosigan series, Bel Thorne, a person who is described as being fully hermaphroditic – the preferred term on Bel’s home planet of Beta Colony – serves under Miles in a mission to Jackson’s Whole. Bel flirts with Miles, who is attracted, but can’t stop thinking of Bel as male.
Bel also appears as a supporting character in The Warrior’s Apprentice, The Vor Game, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, Memory, and Diplomatic Immunity.
Baen, 1999. Transgender – Adult/Teen Interest
In one of the many story threads in this volume of the Vorkosigan Saga, Lady Donna Vorrutyer travels to Beta Colony to have a sex change operation in order to prevent a loathed cousin from inheriting a title and lands. As a woman, Lady Donna was married three times, and as Count Dono Vorrutyer, marries again and has a child. Count Dono also appears briefly in Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (Baen, 2012).
Other titles in the series will be of interest to LGBTQ readers. While this title can be read as a stand-alone, readers will be missing a great deal of background information and character development.
The author’s suggestion for the order in which to read the series can be found here: http://www.dendarii.com/frames/index.html.
Lesbian/Transgender – High School
In this very popular, and over-the-top novel, a group of teenage beauty contestants are stranded on an apparently deserted island when their plane crashes. With few resources they manage to survive storms, people-eating snakes, snarky infighting, and pirates. When they uncover an arms-dealing conspiracy related to the beauty pageant, the young women put their heads together and put a stop to it, saving themselves, and continuing to practice for their pageant in the meantime. Among the contestants is a lesbian teen, and one of the pirates is transgender.