what inspired me?
So I wanted to take this chance to explain a bit more about the story behind the first story and who the characters are that make up the Gender Rainbow.
When my niece was about to turn seven, I decided to write her a story as a birthday present—and that was the first version of Part 1 of my story, Can’t Transitions to Can: With a Friend Who’s True Blue. “Jumping so high you touch the sky” is a metaphor for going after your dreams. We might not always get there, but we should still keep trying. I wanted to write a story that incorporated the struggle we all go through when going after something that seems impossible.
Several years went by, and I picked up my story again, pondering the question of why the ant didn’t want to try something new. That’s when the idea of the ant’s being transgender—and Part 2 of the story—came about. It occurred to me that if you are not able to share your real identity with the world, you may also find it more difficult to try new things.
I am not trans or nonbinary, but I have many friends and family who are. And when I realized just how scarce these identities were in children’s books, the Gender Rainbow series was born. I decided to make each of the seven characters (a short description of each is listed below) a different color of the rainbow and to give them each a different gender.
I have also started work to create an album of songs to go with the Gender Rainbow stories. One of these songs, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” a mantra used in many cultures around the world for healing, appears in Can’t Transitions to Can when the snake sings to the turtle to help her heal.
The letter to readers at the end was inspired by my conversations with trans and nonbinary friends who shared their experiences. I wanted the letter to readers to serve as a starting point of conversation between children who are transgender, nonbinary, or questioning and the trusted adults in their lives. The more we normalize sharing our gender and pronouns, the more we create a safer world for our trans and nonbinary children.
Gender Rainbow Characters
- Dreamer (ze, she, he)
- Can (she)
- True Blue (she)
- Sparkle (she)
- Glad (they)
- Blaze (he)
- Brawn (he)
the clear dragonfly: genderfluid and unifying leader
the indigo ant: transgender female and intuitive
the turtle: cisgender female and speaker of truth
the green snake: intersex female and song healer
the gold grasshopper: nonbinary and joyful mentor
the orange butterfly: transgender male and creative artist
the red beetle: cisgender male, disabled, and strong