The True Story of a Young Trans Activist
Review posted November 1, 2022.
Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), 2022. 36 pages.
Review written October 25, 2022, from a library book.
This colorful and informative picture book tells the story of Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy who went to court to be able to use the boys' restroom at his high school.
The book is framed in a way kids can understand, talking about choices you can make and choices you can't make.
Here's how they explain that Gavin is transgender:
And if you're a kid like Gavin Grimm,
you don't choose if you're a boy or a girl.
But if you're transgender like Gavin Grimm,
you might choose to talk about it.
To tell your family, "I know you thought I was a girl,
but I'm really a boy on the inside."
To say, "I can't keep the name you gave me. We have to pick a new one."
To be honest about who you are.
But then Gavin faced another choice: What to do about the bathrooms at school. He went to school as a boy, and no one bothered him. But they had him use a restroom in the nurse's office. After a while, he started using the boys' bathroom.
The principal said it was okay, and that should have been the end.
But the book portrays that there were some who didn't like it, starting with a teacher, who told people that he was really a girl. That started everyone talking about him. Other kids bullied and laughed at him. And they made him a topic of a school board meeting. Gavin then had another choice.
Gavin chose to speak up for himself. He went to the meeting at his school and told them where he belonged. He tried to make them see that he was just a kid, not a problem to be solved.
It didn't work.
But he still had a choice. He could have used the girls' bathroom, which didn't feel right. Or he could have used the bathroom his school put into a closet, one that no other kid was forced to use.
And he could have chosen to stay quiet.
The spread with his choice has a wonderful sky at sunset behind Gavin -- with the colors of the transgender flag.
But when you're a kid like Gavin Grimm, you know the only choice you have is to fight back.
To stand up for yourself.
And your right to use the bathroom as yourself.
And your right to be in school as yourself.
Then it talks about how Gavin worked with the ACLU to continue to fight his own case and to try to help other transgender kids, too.
I wish that this book were only of historical interest! It helps kids understand why transgender kids want to be who they know themselves to be. And it encourages kids to make the choice to stand for what's right. Even while acknowledging they shouldn't have to.