A children’s novel about a child coming to terms with her trans identity has been named the most banned book in America for the third year in a row.
Alex Gino’s George, later renamed Melissa’s Story has been on the American Library Association’s list of the 10 Most Challenged Books since it was first published in 2015.
‘I Write For Trans Kids, For Gender-Non Conforming Kids’
As an elementary school Library Clerk, I found a solution using the jacket, and slipping in the inserts to avoid "vandalizing school property"! As a transman myself, a million thank yous. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/p80N1Cy4T7
— Dean Italiano (@OldFogeyDean) September 27, 2021
In an interview with Yahoo Life, Gino said they were disappointed that their book is the topic of such controversy.
“When I write a book about someone who is transgender…just simply someone who is transgender — they’re not doing anything, they just are transgender — and that book gets banned? That is, my existence being so scary and so reprehensible and so monstrous, that I cannot be shown to children.”
“Melissa’s Story is for trans people. I write it for trans kids. I write it for gender-nonconforming kids, whatever language they want to use. Because if you see yourself reflected, it’s a way of knowing that you are real — of knowing that you have a place in this world and that someone else sees you.”
According to the American Library Association, the non-binary author’s book has been challenged “for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting ‘the values of our community.”
‘It Is The Adults Who Are Afraid!’
In a Twitter thread using #BannedBooksChat, Gino provided more insight to the constant challenges their children’s book endures and why it is important to have the freedom to read.
A1: To be frank? It sucks. It's not a "badge of honor". As a trans person writing about another trans person, when Melissa's Story is challenged, someone is saying that my existence is too scary, too deviant, too monstrous, to show to children. It hurts. [1/3} #BannedBooksChat
— Alex Gino (@lxgino) September 30, 2021
“As for what people are afraid of, let’s be clear that it’s the adults who are afraid. Afraid of the unknown, and especially afraid of not knowing everything in front of children,” Gino tweeted.
“The good news is that most challenges fail, and that’s because, even though there are adults pushing to keep you from reality, there are more adults who want you (and everyone) to have access to information and stories.”
“Unfortunately, sometimes adults who don’t support and believe in you are in positions of power and bans happen. That sucks. A lot. It’s not fair and it’s not right. You deserve to read about the world. It’s one of the best ways to learn about yourself.”
Other books Gino has written that explore gender and sexuality are Rick and You don’t know Everything Jilly P.
The 2016 Stonewall Award winner is expected to release another book sometime next year titled Alice Austen Lived Here which has a non-binary protagonist.
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