This Kickstarter page has been started to support a project that illustrator Rae Ludwig and myself, author: Talcott Broadhead, are pleased to bring you:
A series of children's books that center the experiences of non-binary and other diverse gender identities.
We are immersed in and inundated with GENDER. Gendered things, gendered expressions, gendered language, gender interpretations, gender manifestations and above all: gender enforcement/gender-policing!
The perception of what our own gender should be begins at our beginning, sometimes even before...when we are coercively assigned a gender at birth. Our assignment is based upon what our biological sex is perceived to be. Our assignment is most often a binary one (despite biological sex itself not being as simplistic as male/female). This assignment often locks us into a lifetime of expectations associated with behavior, expression: i.e: clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms, ---romantic and professional expectations, achievement gaps, oppression, privilege, power, targeting and on and on and on.
This perception of what our gender should be, is heavily enforced at all developmental and social stages of childhood. This enforcement and compulsive hyper-gendering is reflected substantially in children's literature and board books.
Many parents, teachers and professionals have asked me through the years to recommend children's books that are gender non-conforming or "gender-neutral." As a Genderqueer professional Social Worker specializing in gender-identity affirming advocacy and education, I have been hard-pressed to recommend many. It seems that the time has finally come to create some.
My interest in bringing you the Polkadot series does not come from the wish to "neutralize" gender nor to invalidate the AMAZINGness of being a cisgender girl or cisgender boy--- (cisgender means that your gender identity matches the gender you were assigned at birth). Too often this is the strategy employed to make products appear to be gender diverse. In fact neutralizing gender can be quite invalidating to those who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary. Our identities are not all "neutral," (read invisible). Our identities deserve to be validated through visibility. All gender identities are valid and amazing and should be celebrated! For this reason, we have chosen to create a series of books that follows one child through the exciting and tender experiences of early childhood and beyond.
What makes the"Polkadot" series unique is that it centers a non-binary experience of gender identity, rather than a binary one.
Our series begins when our main character Polkadot; a child who was not assigned a gender, is at an age when their gender identity is still forming and emerging. The first book in our series is entitled, "Polkadot Goes to Preschool." While Polkadot is the main character of the series, and therefore their gender identity is central, this series of books celebrate the beauty and validity of ALL gender identities.
With each new book in the series, we will invite you to explore more about the diversity of gender, the shininess of Polkadot themself, as well as the brilliance and the challenges that accompany them. The books are consecutive and grow with Polkadot to reflect the average stages of development in a child and how these are informed by the social construct of gender at each stage.
The talented Rae Ludwig composes bright, child and adult-friendly illustrations that celebrate the mystery and excitement of childhood. Rae's clever drawings deconstruct gendered toys, spaces, items and activities in a manner that will provide the reader with an adventurous visual story to complement the written word.
Rae and I hope that you will find interest in supporting this important project. It's time we honored gender diverse experiences in children's literature. With your help this kickstarter will fund our work on a series of 4 Polkadot books, as well as locally-printed prototypes of each book in our series. These will be submitted for publication with socially and environmentally conscious publishing houses. If we exceed our goal we will explore self-publishing the works.
Talcott Broadhead, MSW and Rae Ludwig, Illustrator Extraordinaire
- (30 days)