cover of The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst

The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst

Book Review: A book for children about being transgender.

Book Review

A short overview of this book

The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst is a lovely book for children that can be used to start a conversation about being transgender.

This book addresses gender and explains to kids that sometimes the gender that they identify as may not match their sex eg they may be male on the outside (with a penis) but feel like a girl on the inside (or vice versa). The main message is that it is normal for this to happen, that other children can feel this way too, and that they aren’t alone.

✅ Buy a copy of The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst from Amazon or Book Depository.

Ideal ages

What’s the ideal age for this book?

The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst is ideal for children between the ages of 4 – 8 years of age.

✅ Buy a copy

Where can you buy a copy of this book?

You can buy a copy of The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst from Amazon or Book Depository.

You can find more books like this in my extensive list of Sex Education Books for Children.

Video review

Have a look through the book

11 thoughts on “The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst”

  1. blank

    This book sounds interesting, but what does “feel like a girl” mean, please? In the book it sounds like it’s connected with tutus and long hair, but that would just be sexist, right?

    1. blank

      hmmm, i guess it is all very personal and it is heavily influenced by the messages that we receive about gender from the society around us (which can vary in different countries).

      So we can talk about gender identity, where you identify as being a gender ie male, female, both or no gender

      And then there is the way we express our gender eg how we dress, hair, etc

      So I might feel like a girl (gender identity) and wear dresses (gender expression)

      Or i might feel like a boy (gender identity) but like to wear tutus (gender expression)

      1. blank

        Thanks for replying Cath!

        I’m still at a loss about what it means to “feel like a girl”. If it isn’t connected to likes or interests (rightly, because that would be sexist) and it isn’t about the sex of the child’s body… what is it?

        Could this book give children the impression that “feeling like a girl” has to do with liking pink, or tutus, or particular hair styles? I have daughters and that’s not a message I want to give them! But if that’s not what feeling like a girl is… then what?

        1. blank

          Gender is very personal (and what it can mean to one person is different to another), but for kids feeling like a girl can mean liking pink and wearing tutus. and society tells us that girls must like pink and wear tutus.
          And now we are heading towards a society that says that girls are also allowed to play with trucks and dinosaurs – mind you we have always had ‘tomboys’ but now we try to not stereotype gender as much. and i don’t think we use terms like tomboy as much now, as the expectations of society has changed.

          I wouldn’t use this book to chat about gender tho, as there are much better books that talk about gender than this one –

          the juno dawson one is good for 8+ and the brooke pessin-whedbee is good for the littlies (i wish i had of had this one when my kids were little)

          oh, and gender is very complex! and that second book breaks it down very simply!

          1. blank

            Cath, thank you very much for your reply, I will check out those other books.

            I get the feeling you can’t think of a way to “feel like a girl” that doesn’t involve sexist stereotypes.

            That’s okay, neither can I.

            Liking pink and tutus is nothing to do with being a girl. It’s just stuff. Any child can like any stuff.

            Dividing toys and hairstyles into “stuff for girls” and “stuff for boys” is sexism.

            If this book was not sexist, wouldn’t the gender fairy go around magic-ing away harmful stereotypes? “You’re a boy who wants a tutu? Cool, here you are! You’d like short hair? Abracadabra, you’ve got it, little girl!”

            But instead it’s reinforcing those stereotypes. Short hair = boy. Tutu = girl. Isn’t that a damaging message for us to give to kids?

            Is it okay for us to tell little kids (mine are preschoolers) that there is this thing, “feeling like a girl”, without us being able to say – even to ourselves as adults – what that means?

          2. blank

            LOL, yeah, it is hard to explain it without stereotyping. remember, with any topic, it is many convos. so you don’t have to say everything in once convo. we are scaffolding ie starting off with the basics and slowly adding in more and more info with each convo

            So you might start off by saying most girls like tutus and pink but some girls don’t. And you might then ask them what about boys? Can boys like pink and tutus?

            and then you might talk about the similarities and differences between genders eg who likes icecreams? who like firetrucks?

            or ask them what they are? and how do they know?

            and then you might another convo where you might talk about biological sex. so most girls have a vulva but some don’t

            and don’t forget that many kids are still brought up with gender stereotypes and there is a group of parents who believe that being gender neutral with parenting is creating all these problems!

            and with preschoolers, they pick up messagess about gender all the time from us and everyone around them. so theya re usually very clear on what they are by about this age and what it means to them. as they get older, they usually become a bit less rigid and narrow minded!

            does it damage them ie giving them stereotypes? if that is all they hear, then yes, they will grow up believing that. my kids come home with exampes of gender stereotypes all the time, and we chat about what that means.

            So i often use that as a convo point as well.

            i hope that answers your Q. 🙂

  2. blank

    I agree with starting with the basics. But how much more basic can it get, than “some kids feel like a girl”. And what does “feel like a girl” mean?

    How can we have this conversation with kids if we can’t answer that?

    Really, there’s not a way to “feel like a girl” without being sexist, is there? If you accept that children can do, wear and play with whatever they like, whether they are a boy or a girl, then how can there be such a thing as a “girl” personality?

    If I ask my daughter “can boys like tutus?” then going by this book, the answer seems to be “no, a child who likes tutus is a girl.”

    Cath, I want to thank you again for trying to answer my questions, and I sense you are feeling your way in a confusing area, as I am. But I’d like to ask you to consider, are you sure that this book you are recommending is lovely and inclusive, and not actually really, deeply sexist?

    1. blank

      hmmm… depends on where you want to draw the line and how political you want to get I guess. I’m probably the wrong person to chat to about this topic. I think you’ll find though, that many books follow the same formula on this topic. And it is a topic that we are still trying to work out, so you’ll find lots of different viewpoints. And remember, finding stuff in a book that you disagree with is invaluable – as you can then chat about what you disagree with, and ask your child what they think.

      1. blank

        You seem to be saying “who cares if it is sexist?”

        I’m surprised, because to me, teaching sexist stereotypes as if they were fact to children is one of the most narrow-minded, dishonest and damaging things we could do.

        Sex stereotypes hurt kids. They limit their ambitions and emotions, and they promote toxic masculinity and inequality.

        I thought not being sexist to kids was a no-brainer for educators, to be honest.

        But we can agree to differ. Many thanks again for the conversation.

  3. blank

    One more quick point and then I’ll leave it!

    Would you recommend racist or homophobic books to kids, and find that okay as long as not ALL of their books are racist/homophobic?

    I really hope you will consider whether promoting books with a message like this one is a good idea. Thanks for your time Cath.

    1. blank

      I’m not endorsing, promoting or encouraging books with negative messages, I’m suggesting that you can turn it into a teaching point.
      My kids bring books home from school all the time that they have chosen from the library, and we sit down and read them together. So we will talk about the stuff that we find in them. I haven’t come across any racism or homophobia yet in books that my kids bring home (most of those have been removed from libraries in Australia that I’ve seen other), but we uncover lots of gender stereotypes, and lots of assumptions that you will fall in love with someone of the opposite sex. I choose books for my kids that address racism (not endorse it) as it is all about acceptance of diversity, and skin colour is a part of that.
      So no, I don’t suggest that you go out and look for books with negative messages but if you end up with one in your lap that you’re reading with your child, it is a great opportunity to address the negative messages.
      And yes, I agree that sexism is negative but reading books to your child with limited or negative views also allows conversation and also allows them to realise that the world isn’t golden and that these things exist. Reading these things doesn’t mean that you have to agree then with and say that they are right, or use those beliefs in your own home.
      I hope that all makes sense.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top