My Dad Thinks I’m a Boy?!

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

My Dad Thinks I'm a Boy by own voices Sophie Labelle is one of those uplifting, yet heartbreaking stories. You love it, but it hurts. And truthfully, I did expect that going in. After all, this is a book about a transgender girl whose father cannot let go of the belief that his daughter is actually his son. It's a story that I'm sure a number of trans children might have gone through, themselves. In that, I am grateful that this book exists.

The story follows Stephie who is seven years old. But her dad just can't seem to stop calling her Stephen and insist that she take part in activities he sees as typically boy-ish and wants her to enjoy just as he does. In a great many ways this book promotes self-awareness and a patience with adults that no seven year old should ever have to exhibit. Stephie admits that she knows her father does not understand and is regularly empathetic toward his difficulty to accept her for who she is.

I know this book got a bit of criticism, ultimately, for leaving the ending somewhat open-ended. It doesn't go on to portray Stephie's father developing an understanding for who his daughter is. The book doesn't show a progression in which he realizes the errors of his ways and is able to eventually become less closed-minded. Instead, it focuses on Stephie's resilience and her ability to recognize that even though her father is acting, as she says, childish, she still loves him. And I think it's fascinating, in a children's book, to see the child main character showing more maturity than her parent.

I don't personally see the way the book ended as problematic, but rather I find it to be incredibly uplifting. It's amazing what Stephie is able to do for her father and recognize within herself. It's utterly brilliant that she can portray such emotional intelligence and maturity in such a volatile and painful situation. And the thing is, I think this story is left open-ended in a way that allows anyone in a similar situation to see themselves and their story. While I hate to admit it, there are some parents out there who struggle to ever accept their child. Fortunately, there are others who do eventually see where they were wrong.

And perhaps it's just me, but I prefer to see a book that offers both possibilities to its readers, ultimately resulting in the opportunity to accept that no matter what their parent is or isn't able to accept in the end, who they are is good and okay and they will always be able to work through these hard times. It is that message that I believe Stephie sends most and sends well. I appreciate her for that.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A quick read showing not only a father's difficulty in understanding that who he thinks is his son is actually his daughter; as well as the daughter's burgeoning understanding of why her father finds it difficult.  A sweet story on the topics of understanding and patience.
Was this review helpful?
Simple and effective. Easy for children to understand, both concerning Stephie's transgender identity and her father's reaction. I thought it was a wonderful children's book and a great way to explain transgender experiences to both children and their parents.
Was this review helpful?
TW: misgendering

I have been following Sophia Labelle on Instagram and Facebook for quite some time (and was so sad I couldn't see her when she visited my city!) so I requested this book the moment I saw it! I have been doing my best to try to read books that will help me with my allyship and advocacy and also just to give my attention to books and stories that tend to be marginalised. I highly recommend her comic series she did on a journalist talking to the parent of a transgender kid instead of  actually talking to the kid about their experience. 

I loved this book (and for those potential readers of this review-- no I do not just highly rate books because I think the subject matter is important)! Adults frequently think they need long explanations and justifications to explain things to kids but most of the time it's unnecessary. 

I really enjoyed how matter-of-fact Stephie is about her life. She knows she's a girl-- it is just the people around her (like her Dad) that are confused. I think it is so important that Labelle included that Stephie's Dad thinks he lost a son (that he never had in the first place). I am by no means an expert on the lives of people who are transgender, but this is a narrative that is seen frequently and it needs to be exposed for how harmful it is. It is understandable for parents to be confused-- but it is not okay to throw temper tantrums about it. 

This book shows that adults do not know everything and children should not be told that adults know best. Do adults know best on a number of things such as don't run into traffic? Sure. But no one has the right to determine someone else's gender identity and showing the dad being child-like was such a brilliant way to demonstrate this.

Stephie is a girl but she is not confined to interests that are gendered as female. On the first page of the story we learn that Stephie likes bugs-- while this may seem like a small detail this sets up the idea that interests do not have to fit within gender lines and that liking a 'male' thing does not make Stephie less of a girl. 

I highly recommend readers to read the discussion questions and book suggestions at the end of this story. We all have our own biases and it is so important to think through our beliefs and how we act so that we don't make people -- especially children!-- feel like Stephie's dad does. I fully intend to read some of the books listed (and I am neither a child nor do I have any so that should not be an excuse used to not read this book and others like it). 

I really appreciate your work Sophie!
Was this review helpful?
Excellent book!  I love Sophie Labelle's art and follow her comics online, so I was super excited to see this book.  We need more books like this!!
Was this review helpful?
Stephie is 7 years old. She likes bugs, books and spaghetti. Her favorite thing to do is to stay up late and watch scary movies. Also, she's a girl formally known as a Stephen. Stephie’s dad had been mistaking her for a boy since she was born and struggles to see her as who she is or wants to be. Stephie just wants to who she sees herself to be and be loved.
I think this is a needed book today where this is a more common concern among our population. My but is that I thought the illustrations a bit too cartoony to accompany a pretty serious issue.
Was this review helpful?
I want to congratulate the author for attempting to write about a very difficult subject.
I was hoping to be impressed with this one, but I wasn't.  It wasn't well written and I didn't care for the illustrations. I also didn't like the condescending attitude that the author encourages kids to have towards adults.  I'd like to see a book that could broach this subject in a better way.
Was this review helpful?
A very sweet book, which is a no-nonsense, first person look at what it is to be a transgender girl with a focus on those around her who are struggling with the concept.
It is written in very simple language with relevant illustrations and is incredibly easy to understand.
It would be an ideal starter book for younger readers to explain what transgender is and how life can be upset and complicated for that person.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the main idea, which is a clever way to expose the situation: the little girl knows she's a girl, her problem isn't being in the wrong body (she's still very young and probably doesn't care about that yet), it is that her father thinks she's a boy. The error if his!
One point is also very good: Stephie is a girl, and likes girly things. Understanding that all girls don't like girly things should also be understanding that some girls may like them all the same! The important point is that everyone should be able to chose for themselves, and shouldn't have to behave and be what their parents expect them to be.

The story in itself is sweet, but more a succession of situations than a real story with a beginning and an ending. If fact the book stops very abruptly, which I didn't like. I didn't like much the illustrations either, but art is personal and the cover gives a sample of it, so if you like it you'll like the whole book!
Was this review helpful?
I read this book with my eight year old granddaughter. The pictures were colourful and the text simple. My granddaughter understood the point of the book which was some children are born a certain gender but that is not what they necessarily are. Adults need to be more accessible to different ideas.   We liked the fact that in the story the child was more adult than the adults.  Children are very mature about different ideas and do accept ideas about transgender without all the drama that some parents seem to have.
Was this review helpful?
*I received an e-galley of this book through in exchange for an honest review. 

In all my life, I've never seen a children's book with a transgender character. Different people come into their skin at different times, but I have heard so many stories where kids knew from an early age that they were in the wrong body. They just didn't have words for it. I genuinely think this book could help young transgender kids understand themselves without having to wait years until they find out about the possibility of being transgender on social media somewhere. The informative parts of the book are simple—easy for kids to understand. It also helps provide perspective for people who don't understand what it must feel like to be transgender. 

I took a star off for the illustrations, which I was disappointed by. The concept for all the images was nice, however, the art style and coloring was not very aesthetically pleasing.
Was this review helpful?
As a parent it is important to read NEW children’s books. The classics will always be there, and we will always be able to pick up the books our parents read to us as kids. But personally, I feel it is important to read to our children what is new and relevant to our daily lives and the lives of others around us. 

My favorite thing about Stephie is the fact that her favorite things where HER favorites - bugs scary movies etc - and not what the world says ‘girls’ like. (Dolls, bows etc) 

The illustrations were okay. I think a little more can be done to brighten up the images and text prior to physical publication. 

Overall, I would like to see this in our local Library one day.
Was this review helpful?
A short, colorful, simple children's book, that is a good read for adults too. It has a few pages at the end that might offer some questions for discussion regarding this subject. I think it's a real good book...very well done! The title is totally appropriate.
This e-ARC was provided to me by Jessica Kingsley Publishers via NetGalley, in return for my reading it & posting my own fair & honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Content warning: misgendering

I think this is a great book to show to young children to help them understand themselves and others better. As a genderqueer person, I always knew from a young age that I wasn’t a girl. I didn’t have the language to identify who I was or why I felt different from other little girls, but if I had this book shown to me, I think I would have been in a better place through my childhood and teenage years. Gender is very easy to understand, and surprisingly enough, children understand it very quickly. My only issue with the book was the depiction of a parent attempting to wrestle with the child, the child looked uncomfortable and that obviously made me uncomfortable. I dropped a star because of it. It was a rather unnecessary illustration for a children’s book.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this - I loved how Stephie knew very exactly who she was and was secure in that, and how the blame was placed squarely on her dad that he couldn't accept her rather than it being Stephie's fault. Trans kids desperately need this book - but so do other kids too
Was this review helpful?
This book is about how a transgender child is not accepted by her father. It talks about the activities that the child does to make the father happy. The book was very choppy and had an ending that seemed to just stop with no conclusion. As a parent of a transgender child, I would prefer a book that had an ending that showed how over time, the father was able to accept the child. I would also like to see the main character to be stronger. She should be able to tell her dad what she wants. Have those difficult conversations in the book. It will help more children that are struggle with parents.
Was this review helpful?
This is a simple children's book told from the perspective of Stephie, who identifies as a girl and whose mother is supportive and whose father tries to insist that she dress and act like a boy. The book does a good job of showing some of the issues that Stephie deals with at home, like her dad trying to make her go fishing and wear the Halloween costumes he prefers, and shows how selfish he is. Ultimately, this isn't resolved and her father never does try to understand her. The end of the book has some discussion questions that will be good for discussion, along with a few book recommendations.

This is a subject that needs a lot more books and discussions, but the writing and illustrations seemed a little lacking.

My rating system:
1 = hated it
2 = it was okay
3 = liked it
4 = really liked it
5 = love it, plan to purchase, and/or would buy it again if it was lost

I read a temporary digital ARC of the book for the purpose of review.
Was this review helpful?
This short but information packed book shows what it is like to be misgendered by a parent.  The struggle the child goes through is heartbreaking.  But there is an empathy shown that is hopeful.
Was this review helpful?
With her trademark humor and cute illustrations, Sophie Labelle provides a honest and funny children's book that introduces trans identity in a straightforward, accessible way while poking fun at the adults who don't "get" being trans. Presented from the perspective of a young trans girl, the story sidesteps the typical narrative of being trans that Others trans people and instead normalizes being trans as just another way of existing in the world, as normal as being cis. Highly recommend this to teachers, librarians, and parents who want to make their bookshelves inclusive.
Was this review helpful?
What a lovely book! I read this with Sophie (aged 6) and Jack (aged 10), who are both cisgender children (cisgender is a term for people who's gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth). I felt the story might be a bit young for Jack, but he enjoyed it and had a lot of questions. 

The first half of the book is told from Stephie's point of view; as she explains her frustrations of having a dad who does not understand that although she was born with a body that looks like a boy's, she is in fact a girl. It upsets her that her dad insists on calling her by a boy's name and tries to get her to do things that he considers activities for boys, things that Stephie doesn't enjoy. Like children often are, she's very thoughtful of her dad's feelings, but we all feel quite sad for Stephie having to deal with this. I particularly like how the author emphasizes that nobody, not even a parent gets to decide who a child is but themselves. 

The second half of the book is made up of questions for further discussion, aimed at teachers and educators and there are suggestions for similar books. We went through quite a few of the questions, which prompted a really productive conversation between myself and the children. I think this book is so important and I would love to see it available in schools and libraries. Trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming children need and deserve to feel seen and represented and it's so important for cis gendered children to be educated.

Thank you very much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Sophie Labelle and Netgalley for an E-ARC of this book.
Was this review helpful?