Spotlight on LGBTQ AWP Panels: The Future of Gender & Trans Children’s Books

Ready for another installment of LGBTQ panels to look out for at AWP 2019?!

In the lead-up to AWP, we’re highlighting a few LGBTQ panels that we think you’ll enjoy. Make sure to get out your planners, calendars, or apps and add these to your schedule! Want us to feature your panel? Contact us!

Below, we spoke to Parrish Turner about a really awesome panel he was a part of setting up.


WHAT’S THE PANEL: The Future of Gender: Optimism and Realism in Transgender Children’s Books” is Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 1:30-2:45 p.m. in A103-104 on Level 1 of the Oregon Convention Center.

DESCRIBE THE PANEL: This panel focuses on the recent relative explosion of books about transgender children that don’t seem to center the voices of transgender people. Our panelists include Alex Gino, Vee Signorelli, Kyle Lukoff, Mason Smith, and April Daniels.

I am deeply opposed to the idea that you have to write every day. Life is complicated. Write when you can and experience life so you have something to write about.

This panel will define an agenda for more open and truly responsive trans literature for young readers and put forth visions for a more expansive future, while also providing perspectives on how to better craft these stories for interested writers.

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Parrish Turner

WHY DID YOU WANT TO CREATE THIS PANEL: I wanted to see a panel of transgender people gathering to discuss these children’s books. More and more young people are coming out as trans and gender nonconforming, and cisgender people have not been able to provide enough nuanced literature to reflect these children’s realities.

By centering the voices of transgender people, we are able to talk to youths within our community as well as our younger selves and understand their needs. We also wanted to work hard to make sure the panel reflected the diversity of our community. Our difficulty in finding people who were able to afford to come to a conference like AWP highlights the need to support the creators of these books, both emotionally and financially as a community.

Our difficulty in finding people who were able to afford to come to a conference like AWP highlights the need to support the creators of these books.

KIDS BOOKS ARE SO FORMATIVE. THERE ARE GROUPS PROMOTING DIVERSE BOOKS AND DIVERSE KID LIT. WHAT WAS/IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK: In the vein of the things we plan to discuss in the panel, I can’t help but think about the books that I think are doing right by queer kids. In particular, I am a big fan of When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. But the number of great LGBTQ children’s books is growing so rapidly, which is part of why our panel is also about optimism. There are a lot of reasons to believe that the kids are going to be alright.

The number of great LGBTQ children’s books is growing so rapidly.

WHAT CAN WRITERS/AUDIENCE MEMBERS EXPECT: There are so few venues to discuss the issue of transgender representation in kidlit; that alone is worth coming out for. I hope for an interesting conversation as well as a number of great tips to take away for our own writing. I will be in the audience as well for this as we had too many great people for the panel, so I am just as excited as everyone else to discover what everyone has to say.

These panelists are deeply engaged in intersectional conversations, so don’t think that the conversation won’t get into the topic of other underrepresented groups in children’s literature. I can promise it will.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOU DO YOUR BEST WRITING: I am a coffee shop writer, especially early in the morning, before all the slow-moving freelancers take over the cafe. I am also deeply opposed to the idea that you have to write every day. Life is complicated. Write when you can and experience life so you have something to write about.


Want us to feature your panel? Contact us!

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