â€œDad told our family she was a woman a couple of years ago,â€ says Jessica Walton, a secondary-school teacher turned public servant who lives in Melbourne. â€œThis opened my eyes and it opened my mind.â€ Jessica Walton, a secondary teacher turned public servant who lives in Melbourne, recalls how her dadâ€™s coming out moment was not only happy but also revelatory: â€œBeing gay myself, having trans friends, and being an active part of the LGBT community for a long time, rallying for gay marriage, etc., I didnâ€™t know this person I had known my whole life was a woman, and it was amazing to get to know her better.â€
The experience prompted Walton to embark on a project. Soon after her dadâ€™s transition began, Walton and her partner had their own child, and they started looking for childrenâ€™s books that reflected their family. And, whereas they did find â€œgreat booksâ€ that featured gay parents, they had real trouble finding books featuring transgender and gender fluid characters. So she decided to â€œwrite the book we wanted to read to our sonâ€.
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 â€“ spoiler alert â€“ has a happy ending, as Tillyâ€™s friends respond â€œwith 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,â€ 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.