There is no shortage of pro-transgender books for kids on library shelves, which is one reason that conservative activists Ryan and Bethany Bomberger decided to write a book of their own.
They published in January the children’s title “She is She: A Book About Your Identity,” a colorfully illustrated work aimed at celebrating what it means to be a girl and to challenge what they say is “gender radicalism” permeating American society, including K-12 schools.
“Tragically, children have become the main target of LGBTQ+ and other ‘woke’ activists who want to peddle political propaganda,” said Mr. Bomberger. “Kids should not be the testing ground for anyone’s emotional or sexual affirmation. Children deserve their innocence, and they deserve the truth.”
Their book for ages 2-8 includes lines such as, “She’s a mother. She’s a daughter. She’s a sister. Not a brother.”
The Bombergers came up with the idea after a friend, Tanner Cross, was suspended from his teaching job in the Loudoun County Public Schools for refusing to use pronouns based on gender identity, prompting the couple to join other parents challenging the district’s pro-transgender policies.
“So we got involved in school board meetings, we got involved in discussing these issues with parents, and teaching them how to frame these issues. Which led Bethany to say, why don’t we write a book about pronouns?” Mr. Bomberger told The Washington Times.
“So we just kind of laughed about it, and we started rattling off lines: She is she. She is not he. She is not we,” he said. “And we realized, this is actually a simple yet powerful way to get across the ridiculousness of LGBT activism and get to the basics of science, the basics of a biblical worldview.”
The Bombergers, who founded the pro-life Radiance Foundation, join a small but growing band of authors offering alternatives to the explosion of picture books for children supporting gender transition.
To all the woke folk in our government, public schools, entertainment industry and even some Bible-evading churches…She Is She. It’s not just scientific. It’s not just Biblical. It’s common sense. #WomensHistoryMonth https://t.co/WbJVhpZ6j1 pic.twitter.com/HzTGOHkiOz— Ryan Bomberger (@ryanbomberger) March 20, 2023
Books seeking to counter the culture include “Elephants Are Not Birds” (2022) by Ashley St. Clair, “Always Erin” (2021) by Erin Brewer, and “Johnny the Walrus” by Matt Walsh (2022).
In an ironic twist, “Johnny the Walrus” soared after its release to the top of Amazon’s LGBTQ+ bestsellers’ list before being removed from the category amid an outcry on the left.
Such titles are heavily outnumbered by pro-transgender children’s books that have surged in popularity since the 2014 release of “I Am Jazz,” co-written by Jazz Jennings, a former transgender child celebrity and now the 22-year-old star of a TLC reality show.
The British group TransgenderTrend, whose motto is “no child is born in the wrong body,” released a report last month on 60 pro-transgender children’s books, calling them “a completely new phenomenon.”
“This can’t be overemphasized,” said the Feb. 18 post. “Fifteen years ago, there were hardly any books for children which told them they could change sex. They began to appear on publishers’ lists around the same time as there was an unprecedented increase in children being referred to the Tavistock [gender-identity clinic] and heart-warming stories of ‘trans kids’ appeared in the media.”
Also blazing the trail was the success of “10,000 Dresses” (2008) by Marcus Ewert, the story of “a trans girl, Bailey, who is trying to make her dreams a reality.” The book is for ages 5-9.
“Many children have now been introduced to the book’s central idea that sex is a matter of belief, expressed by what you wear,” said TransgenderTrend. “It was the first of many to use the mirror theme; the child looks in the mirror and sees not their biological sex but their desired sex reflected back.”
Family Education’s 20 best books “about non-binary and transgender children” include “My Princess Boy” (2009) by Cheryl Kilodavis, “Pink is for Boys” (2018) by Robb Pearlman, and “Introducing Teddy” (2016) by Jessica Walton. All three are for ages 2-4.
“Many children are used to conforming to gender norms because they are raised to think that is ‘the right way,’” said the Dec. 1 article in Family Education. “It is important to encourage kids to live authentically as whoever they choose to be. And many kids will take a while to discover their identity; that’s just part of growing up!”
Enter the Bombergers, who said their book “offers a fun way for parents and guardians to counter the cultural lies about femininity with clarity and creativity.”
“Our youth depend on us to tell them what is true,” said Mrs. Bomberger, who taught in private and public schools for 13 years. “I want to empower parents, teachers, faith leaders, and children to know and be able to discuss simple truths. Children’s literature, like ‘She is She,’ is a great tool to both educate and entertain.”
Whether “She is She” will join pro-transgender books like “I Am Jazz” in increasingly woke school libraries is another question, although Mr. Bomberger is encouraged by the response so far.
“We’ve had Christian schools that have ordered bulk supplies of the book, and this is just starting,” he said. “We’re getting all kinds of requests. We’re working on curriculum for our other book, ‘Pro-Life Kids.’ We have so many parents and adults saying we need to put this in our local libraries and our school libraries.”
The Bombergers are trying to give such books a boost with their newly launched initiative called “put it on the shelf,” which gives anyone who purchases the title an additional copy free of charge that can be donated to a public library.
“Someone can buy a book, get one free, and put the free one in a library,” Mr. Bomberger said. “Technically if you donate, they will accept it. But I know there are a lot of roadblocks because they’re not about censorship until they’re all about censorship.”
Convincing major publishers to print such books is another hurdle. “Johnny the Walrus” was published by DW Books, an imprint of the Daily Wire launched in 2021.
“Elephants Are Not Birds” was published by Brave Books, a conservative publisher that carries children’s books with patriotic and Christian messages written by figures such as Kirk Cameron, Dinesh D’Souza and Bethany Hamilton.
The Bombergers have their own company, Bara Publishing, named for the Hebrew word “create.” “She is She” is available on their sheisshe.com website.
“We have such a platform — we do 60 keynote events a year — it just made more sense not to give over control to a publisher,” Mr. Bomberger said.
Two of their four children attended a Loudoun County charter school before he and his wife decided to homeschool them. Their children range in age from 12 to 18.
“We homeschool all of our kids,” he said. “We want to be their main influencers and we want to actually be the ones addressing these culture shaping issues, so they’re equipped to know how to think through them.”
The Bombergers plan to release in June “He is He,” a follow-up to “She is She” that disputes the idea of “toxic masculinity” and applauds “what it means to be a male.”
Their books may never win rave reviews on the left, but Mr. Bomberger said the couple is motivated by a higher purpose.
“We love people too much to not speak the truth,” Mr. Bomberger said. “That’s just who we are. That’s what we do.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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