The Gender Fairy

The Gender Fairy is a 2015 picture book written by Jo Hirst and illustrated by Libby Wirt.

The Gender Fairy
The Gender Fairy, children's book.jpg
AuthorJo Hirst
TranslatorLibby Wirt
SubjectGender dysphoria in children
PublishedBalaclava, Victoria
PublisherOban Road Publishing
Publication date
Media typePrint

Background and synopsisEdit

The Gender Fairy is an Australian book aimed at helping transgender children and their families,[1] inspired by Hirst's experiences as a mother to a transgender child.[2] The book's story is described as "a tale of two children who are taking their first joyful steps toward living as their true selves". The book is aimed as an educational resource for children aged four and up and is designed to be read aloud at home or in the classroom. The book aims to reassure transgender children, saying "only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you."

The book contains notes for teachers and parents compiled by academic Roz Ward.[3][4] The foreword is written by Dr Michelle Telfer from the Centre for Adolescent Health, Gender Service at the Royal Children's Hospital.[5]

Publishing and receptionEdit

The book, promoted by the Safe Schools Coalition,[6][7] was launched at St Kilda Primary School at an event attended by Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley who stated that "This book is about affirming trans children’s rights to be who they are, and if that means they’re happy, healthy, and engaged, and that their families are reconciled in support of that, that can only be a good thing."[8]

The book has received widespread support from gender activists and some politicians. In November 2015, Senator Janet Rice, who is married to a transgender woman, praised the book in the Australian Senate.[9]


The book has been the subject of criticism from conservative political figures and organisations. The author estimated in 2018 that since its publication, The Gender Fairy had been mentioned in three different Australian political elections, as well as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.[2] Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby described the book's contents as 'contested gender theory' in a 2016 criticism of the Safe Schools program.[10] The author has stated that the book is unrelated to the Safe Schools campaign, although it featured on the Safe Schools website.[11]

During the 2016 Australian federal election flyers criticising the education policies of the Australian Labor Party were distributed to voters attacking the book as "gender bending political correctness", which they linked to "Labor's plan for education."[11]

In September 2017 the book featured in a television ad, released in conjunction with the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey for the "No" campaign. The ad incorporates the words, "Only you know whether you are a boy or a girl".[12][13] Cory Bernardi, the leader of the Australian Conservatives party, subsequently mentioned The Gender Fairy in a robocall during the postal survey.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Gender Fairy: New book helps young children deal with gender dysphoria". ABC News. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Transgender children: doing it for the kids - Archer Magazine". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Marxist Roz Ward now Victorian school LGBTI adviser". The Australian. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Why the attacks on Safe Schools founder Roz Ward are attacks on our children". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  5. ^ Perkins, Miki (2 December 2015). "'The Gender Fairy': a new chapter in transgender education for kids". Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via The Age.
  6. ^ "Is 'The Gender Fairy' in your school library?". Safe Schools Coalition. 27 January 2016. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  7. ^ Bita, Natasha (12 February 2016). "Sexual politics in the classroom". The Australian. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  8. ^ ""The Gender Fairy" aims to raise awareness around trans children - Star Observer". Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  9. ^ Drummond, Sam (25 November 2015). "We can and must end the discrimination of trans and gender diverse people". Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  10. ^ Shelton, Lyle (2 June 2016). "Claims Gender Fairy is Totally Unrelated to Safe Schools Untrue". The Australian Christian Lobby. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b McIlroy, Tom (5 July 2016). "Federal election 2016: Author Jo Hirst slams Australian Christian Lobby over use of her book Gender Fairy". Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. ^ "'No' campaign targets 'The Gender Fairy' in new ad". SBS. 16 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  13. ^ Brook, Benedict (16 September 2017). "Anti-same-sex marriage groups officially launch 'no' campaign". News Ltd. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Cory Bernardi has voiced a robo call pushing the No vote". Retrieved 13 April 2018.