Paige Schilt

Thomas Beatie Bedtime Story

Filed By Paige Schilt | January 17, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: children of gay parents, lgbt families, transgender families, transgender parent

The other night, my 5-year-old son, Waylon, was sitting on the toilet and reading Us Weekly. (Normally I would not confess that our home harbors such toxic tabloid sludge--much less that we expose our child to it--but since it is pivotal to my tale, I will just clarify that it is all my spouse's fault.)

"Mom!" Waylon shouted from the bathroom. "Come here! You gotta see this cute baby."

I marched into the bathroom, prepared to deliver my "stop stalling and get in bed" speech. Then my gaze met the baby in question. It was Thomas Beatie's daughter, Susan. She really is a cute baby.

Amazed that Waylon, a child with a trans parent, had somehow managed to pick out the only trans family in the whole magazine, I sat down on the side of the tub. "Look at her cheeks," Waylon cooed.

"Waylon," I said, "did you know that the daddy in that family was born with a woman's body and he had to change his body to match how he felt inside?"* My son studied the picture, raising the page to within a centimeter from his nose. I assured him that Thomas Beattie looks just like any other man, but Waylon persisted in his examination.

"Hmmm. Let me see....I think he looks--I think he looks French," pronounced Waylon, who is also the child of Francophile parents.

To say that transgender families are underrepresented in children's literature would be the understatement of the century. At our house, we create lots of stories with characters that mirror the diversity of the people whom Waylon knows and loves. But sometimes he still complains that the families in books are so different than ours. So I have to admit that--for one brief, bedtime moment--I was actually grateful for Us Weekly and the unexpected opportunity to show Waylon a family with a story like his own.

*(This is the five-year-old version, not necessarily the language I'd use with an adult.)


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That was wonderful. I agree children's literature should be much more diverse than it is. Keeping with the same mold of families means that some peoples lived experience is necessarily ignored.

I blogged a while ago that finally we are seeing (at least in some school districts) books used such as Heather Has Two Mommies, so that kids with same-sex parents can see their lives reflected, and kids with opposite-sex parents can see that other models exist. I wrote that I thought it was about time that we started to see material in which kids with one or more trans parents would see their lives reflected. Maybe it has started, although perhaps in a way we did not expect.

Gee, I didn't know Katy was a tabloid junkie! Does she read the News of the World too? I mean I love News of the World, how else can you keep up with the alien abductions and X files type stuff?

I do not look for a change in childrens literature any time soon in regards to transgender families. Look at the troubles people have run into with the books on gay parents and all.

The religio-facists would have a field day with trannies in childrens books.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 17, 2009 9:50 PM

Paige, once again you've pulled at my heartstrings! What a sweet story.

And one that perfectly illustrates how strong, healthy, and "normal"* our families are!

*Although I usually dislike that word!

Oh my, too cute!

I do understand what it's like to not see your family represented anywhere. I remember in elementary school, which was very, very Germanic/Anglo, in Wisconsin and being the kid of an immigrant... every little thing about my friends' houses was different. It was weird to notice that every little thing about my family was slightly different than other kids' families, that they seemed to share a vocabulary that I didn't, and that story books for children represented a specific culture that was different from the weird mix of... of whatever was going on my house.

Since that made me who I am today, I'll say that I'm all the better for it, whether that's true or not. :) But it probably does explain why I was always friends with the foreign/first generation kids when I got to high school.

Since that made me who I am today, I'll say that I'm all the better for it, whether that's true or not. :)

In the spirit of generosity, I'll agree with that statement. *grins*

That was a great heart strings story. Your son is growing to be an amazingly smart and thought driven little person!

PS. Your disclaimer* cracked me up!