Gender Neutral Children’s Books
When I had first rendered my children’s book, “Namaste Rainbow” (available this in March), on paper the main character was male. As I re-read my own writing, I imagined all the people I was writing to: children, men, women, non-gender conforming individuals, different races, different cultures and people of all walks of life. I came to a realization that my own story, that came from my own brain, was excluding many people from imagining themselves in the story. My mother, my sister, my female friends, and my non-gender conforming friends were unable to identify as the main character because he was male. I wasn’t even able to relate to the main character of my own story.
This was not at all intentional. When I said “he,” what I really meant was “human” and even more than this I was talking to “you” the reader. As a writer you never want to exclude your reader. So what did I do? I changed it. Believe it or not, it is possible to write a story without gender, to think without gender, to see others without first seeing gender and to instead see a person, see a soul a soul, and talk to the heart of anyone who is listening.
The good news is, that just like the writing of my story, things can change. I went back and re-worked the story to include “you,” whoever you may be, in what every way you identify yourself. At first it I had to try hard not to use gender conforming language and at first it seemed forced. But eventually, it began to sound natural. Gradually, I realized it sounded better than before, because it was kinder and more inclusive. I was retraining myself to not treat masculine, he, him, his as default because I can consciously choose to change.
Because I can consciously make the decision to write this way and to think this way, I believe it is possible for others to do so too. The more people that do, the more likely it is that future generations will be able to inherit this thinking as natural because we will have provided them with role models who have chosen to think this way because it is kinder. It is with this effort that we make conscious positive social change and begin to become a more aware and accepting society.
We cannot continue as a society to disregard the fact that the categories we have created, though may be useful in particular situations, are not naturally binding but purely social. We cannot continue to attempt to force others to fit into the categories we believe they should fit in. We must simply let go and let be. It is not personally beneficial to hold others to the standards of any stereotype or identity and it is certainly not beneficial to others.
It doesn’t matter if you are a girl or a boy or neither or both or between, around, under or above, you have your own place on this earth and in the universe and I nor anyone else can discredit that.
I do not have children but I once was a child and if I could tell anything to my younger self and to all children I would say: “You are the main character of your life, not a character in someone else’s story. Develop your own dreams! Do not concern yourself with fulfilling the dreams others. They have their own story to worry about.”
Stay up to date on the progress of my gender neutral books here: