‘Teddy knows in her heart that she is a girl, not a boy. Will her friends understand? Will they call her Tilly instead of Thomas?’ And with those words, Introducing Teddy’s Kickstarter campaign was born – achieving double its target funding for a picture book representing gender diversity, aimed at kids under five.
Well … initially, just one kid.
Author Jess Walton was inspired to write the story because her own dad, Tina, is a transgender woman. When Jess had a child of her own, she was conscious of the need to explain Tina’s experience to her son in simple terms – and although gender diverse characters are slowly finding their way into more mainstream books, she couldn’t find an age-appropriate picture book that reflected the gender diversity of her family. She opted to write her own.
Host Sally Goldner speaks with Jess Walton and Tina Healy (Jess’s dad) about their personal journeys, broad transgender issues and the need for gender diverse books for young readers (and adults).
Sally Goldner is an educator, speaker, MC and occasional performer. Her involvement in Victoria’s queer community has spanned more than twenty years. She has worked as executive director and treasurer of Transgender Victoria, presenter of 3CR’s queer program 'Out of the Pan', co-facilitator of Transfamily and treasurer of Bisexual Alliance Victoria. She is also a contributor to the 2018 book Living and Loving in Diversity.
Jessica Walton is a picture book author, teacher, parent, daughter of a trans parent and proud queer disabled woman. She wrote Introducing Teddy: a story about being yourself to help explain gender identity in a simple, positive way to her kids. Introducing Teddy began as a Kickstarter project, but has now been published in the US, UK and Australia by Bloomsbury. It has also been translated into nine other languages. Jess lives in Pakenham with her wife, kids and cat.
Tina Healy is a disability support worker, and co-founder and community outreach worker with Gender Diversity Australasia, Australia's largest transgender peer support group. Tina is also a committee member of Transgender Victoria (TGV), and a member of the Darebin Sexuality Sex and Gender Diversity Advisory Committee. She is a contributing author to BOLD: Stories from older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, published by Rag and Bone Press in 2015.