IMAGES: COURTESY OF GREG MCGOON.
In the expanding conversation around transgender issues, kids are sometimes left out — a fact that children’s author Greg McGoon seeks to help change with his groundbreaking new book, The Royal Heart. It’s the first in a series of fairy tales that will celebrate LGBT characters, as well as the first classically styled fairy tale about a trans kid.
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“I don’t want this book to be known as the ‘Transgender Fairy Tale,’” McGoon tells us. “It is a traditionally styled fairy tale featuring a transgender character. The book has universal themes of acceptance, love, and leadership…I loved the idea of introducing this topic to children to allow them to start a dialogue about what it means for someone to be true to themselves.”
The story itself, accompanied by illustrations from J. Orr, is charming. A child, Lyric, is born to a king and queen and assigned male, but Lyric doesn’t feel male. He’s nervous that he’ll never become the great king his mother and father expect him to be. He runs away and meets the spirit of his grandmother, who helps Lyric transition into the princess she knows she is. “Lyric finally felt free. Tears trickled down her cheeks,” the story reads. “'This is who I am. This is who I’ve always been. In my heart, I knew I was not meant to be king. But maybe I can still be a leader.’”
McGoon reports that the response to the book has been “fantastic and overwhelming”: “Transgender women have messaged me, thanking me for creating this story just about love and acceptance when so much media coverage strays from that,” he says.
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If McGoon has his way, The Royal Heart will encourage the representation of even more diverse characters for children looking for evidence that they are not alone: “I want everyone to feel like they can have their own 'Once upon a time’ that can sit alongside the classic fairy tales that have been around for many years.”
By Hayley MacMillen