Finding the you inside

Gender Creative Kids Canada and Lg2 create a toy that helps trans kids navigate their gender identity.

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Gender Creative Kids Canada, a non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness for the needs of children as they navigate their gender identity, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of Sam, a Russian nesting doll that aims to give kids and parents alike the tools to discuss gender identity with their kids.

Happy on the outside, each subsequent dolls steps backward through a different stage of Sam’s life (you can see a graphic showing and describing each stage below). The stages aren’t always happy, and the idea is not only show trans kids that what they are going through is normal and will one day lead to acceptance, but to show parents and other people what the child is going through.

If the project meets its funding goal, at least 1,500 dolls will ship by spring of next year (and even more if the goal is exceeded). The “You Inside Project” is supported by an animated online video that tells the story of Sam. Assigned female at birth, it appears that Sam is born with a twin brother. But as the video goes on and Sam grows up, it becomes clear what appears to be a brother is really the person Sam is on the inside, guiding him through the early stages of his life to become who he really wants to be.

Sam was designed by SHED and Roméo + Fils, while the short film and wider campaign was led by Lg2.

The organization makes it clear on the Kickstarter page that Sam’s story does not represent the path taken by every person and that it doesn’t reflect the full range of gender issues a child may face or the emotions they may feel. The toy is also not meant to be a roadmap for parents or used by them as a diagnostic tool to figure out if they child is trans or not. But by using play-based learning, the hope is to help kids and parents – and potentially society as a whole – discuss what can be a delicate and emotional issue in a safe and welcoming way.

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