The Adventures of Softboy Pillowman: Exploring Gender Norms and Transgender Messages in Children’s Literature
Date of Award
The Adventures of Softboy Pillowman is my response to the need for proper transgender representation in children’s picture books. I wrote three picture books (and illustrated the first, which is included in the thesis as a separate bound volume) in order to create a compelling, character-driven story that also acts as positive representation for the transgender community. After doing extensive research reading existing picture books, I determined that good transgender representation is often supported by, if not built on, gender nonconformity and the need to dismantle, or at least disregard, the gender binary. As I wrote The Softboy Series, I focused mainly on displaying the benefits of allowing children the freedom to explore their identities without having to follow the strict norms of the gender binary. I aimed for a reasonable balance of having my characters go through visible hardship and overtly celebrating the trans and gender nonconforming aspects of their lives. My efforts resulted in a trilogy that is longer and somewhat more elaborate than I originally intended, but that still remains focused on its goals of benefiting trans youth and contributing to a section of children’s literature that has only recently begun to flourish.
Foote, Felix, "The Adventures of Softboy Pillowman: Exploring Gender Norms and Transgender Messages in Children’s Literature" (2020). Senior Theses. 1532.
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