The transgender teddy bear teaching children about friendship and identity – The Guardian

“Dad told our family she was a woman a couple of years ago,” says Jessica Walton, a secondary-school teacher turned public servant who lives in Melbourne. “This opened my eyes and it opened my mind.” Jessica Walton, a secondary teacher turned public servant who lives in Melbourne, recalls how her dad’s coming out moment was not only happy but also revelatory: “Being gay myself, having trans friends, and being an active part of the LGBT community for a long time, rallying for gay marriage, etc., I didn’t know this person I had known my whole life was a woman, and it was amazing to get to know her better.”

The experience prompted Walton to embark on a project. Soon after her dad’s transition began, Walton and her partner had their own child, and they started looking for children’s books that reflected their family. And, whereas they did find “great books” that featured gay parents, they had real trouble finding books featuring transgender and gender fluid characters. So she decided to “write the book we wanted to read to our son”.

Teddy is described as a gentle, positive picture book about being yourself, and being a good friend, on the Kickstarter page where Walton is crowdfunding money to self-publish it. It tells the story of Thomas the teddy who is the best friend of a boy named Errol, and who identifies as girl and wants to be called Tilly.

The story – spoiler alert – has a happy ending, as Tilly’s friends respond “with love, care and respect. In no way does the friendship between them change when Teddy transitions, except perhaps that their friendship is strengthened by the experience,” Walton explains. With 33 days left on the Kickstarter campaign, the project is on track to meet its $A10,500 target, and backers can expect to receive copies by the end of the year.