A great book to read with family or to use in the classroom, Meet Polkadot has been used as an educational tool in preschools all the way up to graduate schools. Valued by social workers, health care providers, educators, youth, and families, Meet Polkadot is truly a book for all ages!
- Have you been looking for a story with which to begin and/or continue meaningful and accurate conversations about gender identity?
- Perhaps you wish to have dialogues that center and normalize transgender identities but you feel worried you may not have accurate information?
- Maybe you ARE trans* or you have a child/family member who is trans* and you are ready for a book that honors transgender experiences rather than sensationalizes transgender lives and bodies?
“Meet Polkadot,” tells Polkadot’s story from a transgender-liberation and feminist perspective and explores the complexity of identity in gentle and real terms. The book sets the stage for future stories about Polkadot and loved ones by acting as a primer on gender identity.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Wait a minute, is this book appropriate for kids?
Yes! Gender is appropriate for all ages!
In fact, information about gender identity is extremely important for children and grown-ups. A lack of information that normalizes gender identity diversity can cause confusion. Such confusion often leads to teasing and bullying of gender diverse children. By giving children access to stories about children like Polkadot and teaching them that gender identity and gender expression are based upon each individual’s sense of Self, children like Polkadot gain a sense of acceptance, autonomy and self-expression. Through the reduction of confusion and increase in information about gender identity, we hope to reduce bullying!
Will reading this to children MAKE them transgender?!
No! You can’t MAKE a person transgender. However, caregivers, educators, and parents DO deeply influence how a child feels about them self. Enforcing gender conformity or rejecting a child’s gender diversity can damage a child’s self-esteem and is a high predictor for self-harm and youth suicide.
It is important to know that being transgender is not something that a person chooses. Often children, lacking the words or capacity to articulate their gender identity will come to feel confused about it. With access to more stories about people like Polkadot we hope to provide more people with the ability to talk about them self and others in respectful and real terms.
My child is not transgender, why should we read this book?
Everyone has a gender identity! Your child may not be transgender, but chances are they will encounter people who express a wide range of gender identities in school, church, through sports, and out in the World at large. Transgender and gender diverse people are an oppressed and targeted group that deserves understanding and allyship. Teaching our children to recognize and reject stereotypes of transgender folks and see all identities as real and normal creates a safer and more accepting school, church, game, World, for everyone!
How do you know all of this?
Great question! There is no ONE trans narrative, nor is there just one trans community. As a non-binary, trans individual who is also a social worker and a parent, I have spent much of my life and career advocating for social justice and trans liberation. I can speak only of my own identity and about experiences I know to be true through my work and community involvement. I do NOT seek to be “The expert,” and in fact I recognize the very real limitations of my own. For that reason I only tell the stories that I am a part of. I hope that this series will inspire MANY trans voices to share their stories through children’s literature.
Did anyone help you with this book?
Yes! Oh my goodness, yes. There were so many folks who supported this whole process. Below are the folks who deserve the most honorable mention as contributors and supporters:
Integral to this book was my DEAR friend, educator and performance artist, Norma Alicia Pino. Norma Alicia holds a Masters in Human Development and has been a supporter and consultant since my idea first took shape. Norma Alicia Pino supported Polkadot’s own desire to become an ally to People of Color, through the creation of her character, “Norma Alicia.” In the Polkadot Series, Norma Alicia is Polkadot’s best friend.
Trans artist and graphic designer: Rae Senarighi was instrumental in inspiring me AND helping this project idea come to life. Rae created the media: posters, buttons and postcards and also prepared the book for print according to the manufacturer’s standards. I could not have done this without Rae’s extreme talents and generosity.
The 2nd edition includes a fantastic new foreword by Darkmatter, the non-binary, south asian, performance art duo, comprised of
Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian.
Dean Spade generously provided a most accessible and thoughtfully written Introduction to the book, “Meet Polkadot.” I feel so grateful to have a friend who is so wholly committed to social justice and liberation, as Dean is.
Gina Senarighi, amplified MY happiness and provided essential consultation throughout the process of creating “Meet Polkadot.” I am fortunate to have found such a competent consultant as Gina.
Hillary Atiyeh, Professional Photographer, accommodated a request via a mutual friend to photograph the original artwork for “Meet Polkadot.” I feel so honored to have Hillary’s work integrated into this process and I feel grateful beyond words.
How do I “teach” this book?
Gently and with patience. 🙂
A great book to read with family or to use in the classroom, Meet Polkadot has been used as an educational tool in early childhood education settings all the way up to graduate schools. Valued by social workers, health care providers, educators, youth, and families, Meet Polkadot is truly a book for all ages!
Images from “Meet Polkadot,” copyright Talcott Broadhead, 2013, and 2016. All rights reserved.