Like most children’s picture books that feature transgender children, Sophie Labelle’s 2013 publication, A Girl Like Any Other, was self-published with the help of crowdfunding. Readers are introduced to a quirky young girl who shares what it is like being transgender in this first-person-narrative which is sure to reflect many young children’s experiences.
Most of her peers don’t accept her as a girl because she has a penis and was assigned male at birth. Even more, the students at her school knew her when she was forced to dress like a boy. Even though it is difficult to be herself at school, she explains that it was harder when she was forced to dress like a boy and was always angry. And, even though school is challenging, she has a best friend she’s known forever who accepts her for who she is.
I particularly appreciated Labelle’s subtle description of the protagonist’s trouble negotiating binary gender. For instance, the protagonist astutely suggests toys should be for everyone and she shares that she doesn’t want to play sports because she’s scared that she will be called a boy.
The illustrations are quite amateurish, but that’s fairly typical in self-published books. Labelle continues to explore queer themes in her work and her art has improved quite a bit. This book does a fine job describing transgender experience and will be a useful “mirror” text for children who identify as transgender or gender expansive.
This review is part of my “Snapshots of LGBTQ Kid Lit” project. I’m working on a book, The New Queer Children’s Literature: Exploring the Principles and Politics of LGBTQ* Children’s Picture Books, which is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Part of my research is identifying and interpreting English-language children’s picture books with LGBTQ* content published in the US and Canada between 1979 and 2019. Follow my blog to follow my journey!