When her father Tina came out as trans about three-and-half years ago, Australian author Jessica Walton was inspired to write Introducing Teddy, a new children’s book that tackles the unique challenges faced by transgender people. It’s alreaady received massive amounts of praise.
“When we were growing up Tina was so much fun,” Walton says. “She was such an involved, happy, really down to earth dad.”
The story focuses on the shifting dynamics of Tilly’s relationships as she begins coming out to her pals.
Walton wrote the book for her son Errol, noticing the lack of children’s books that look at transgender issues. Illustrated by Dougal MacPherson, it’s Walton’s first effort, self-published through crowdfunding. (Walton and MacPherson raised $20,000 on Kickstarter.) Following loads of positive press about the story, independent publishing house Bloomsbury will publish the book globally in June 2016.
“What’s really nice with little kids is when you read them a story that reflects your family, you know that they’re able to identify themselves in that story,” says Walton, who was scared of showing Tina the book for the first time. “Tina has been there for me so much while I’ve been writing this book. I was really nervous of showing her the draft of the text the first time because I thought I want to get this right.”
Tina, of course, loved the book.
“I just cried happy tears,” Tina said. “It was wonderful, such a wonderful thing and such a beautiful positive book. It’s a book about difference and about accepting difference and I was so proud of her when I saw it, and it’s illustration is beautiful and the story is really appealing. I think at some point you need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the things that you hide or you feel shame about and just come out and be who you are and stand up and be proud.”