Storify: Queer Books for Queer Kids

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Okay, we gotta talk about queer children so pull up a chair, I guess.

Every time we acknowledge that some kids are queer (bi, gay, lesbian, ace, aro, trans), people say we're "sexualizing" kids. Nope.

The stigmatization of queer people means we're seen as hyper-sexual, while a "hetero" boy/girl pair of toddlers is just sweet and normal. The stigmatization of trans bodies means we're seen as hyper-genital focused, while it's normal to tell strangers your baby boy has a penis. The stigmatization of asexuality means that the statement that a kid could be ace brings bizarre accusations of "sexualizing" other kids, yet playful parental fantasies like "wouldn't it be sweet if mine and yours grew up to be married" isn't sexualizing at all, just normal.

LOTS of queer adults have stories about how, as children, we knew we were queer, trans, ace, aro, bi, gay, lesbian, etc. What many of us DIDN'T have was books explaining that we were normal. Books explaining that adults like us were normal.

And when a book comes out with a trans teddy bear or an ace shark or a lesbian giraffe, the howls go up to "let kids be kids!" But no one objects to stories in which a puppy falls in hetero crush, or in which het parents are married and have a baby. Because childish hetero romance is seen as sweet and innocent, but childish queer romance is seen as sexual and not-age-appropriate. And adult heterosexual relationships and reproduction are seen as necessary age-appropriate education, but adult queer relationships are not.

This is a way of continuing to invisible and shame and stigmatize us queer adults: the insistence that our EXISTENCE isn't age-appropriate.

One reason I write NA (new adult) rather than YA (young adult) is because I've been repeatedly told my themes aren't Appropriate. Bisexual characters, polyamorous characters, and transgender characters are all "inappropriate". Despite the fact that bi-attraction, polyam-feels, and transgender do not inherently have anything to do with sex. Despite the fact that hetero vanilla monoamory cigender sex in YA is considered a brave cutting edge new frontier by many.

I am tired, damn tired, of queer people being shouted down when we talk about what we needed, representation-wise, as kids. Queer kids exist. Many of us queer adults WERE queer kids. Stop telling us our own existence wasn't age-appropriate. Stop telling us that "kids should be kids" when you're lobbying for queer kids to be confused and alone and silenced and scared.


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