Updated: Oct 29, 2021
For ParentCorps Manager Katherine Rosenblatt, writing the new book My Mommy is a He presented an opportunity to put something out in the world that didn’t exist before. “I needed this book — for my family and my kids — and I couldn’t find it,” Katherine said. “There were some children’s books about gender, there were some books about children's transitions with gender, and now there are even a few children’s books about transgender adults, but I have yet to see one that is actually about an adult/parent transitioning.” Based on her own family’s journey, My Mommy is a He explores transgender identity by telling the story of a family with one of the parents transitioning.
We sat down for a conversation with Katherine — who wears many hats outside ParentCorps, including social worker, educator, parent and partner — about this new book. Excerpts from that conversation are below.
Lisa Ellrodt: Tell me about the genesis of your new children’s book, My Mommy Is a He? Why this, why now?
Kat Rosenblatt: I think my “why” behind the book has evolved. The original “why” was that I needed this book — for my family and my kids — and I couldn’t find it. There were some children’s books about gender, there were some books about children's transitions with gender, and now there are even a few children’s books about transgender adults, but I have yet to see one that is actually about an adult/parent transitioning.
Now my ”why” is beyond those families that might need support — now I hope lots of families, teachers, social workers, grandparents and caregivers find it, and it helps to begin a conversation.
LE: You’re the mom of two young children. Have you used literature in your parenting, to teach social emotional skills or get at hard conversations?
KR: For sure. My dad was a writer and had various bookstores in NYC growing up, and my mom was an early childhood teacher for 40 years and then became a librarian, so books are core to me. They’re what I look for when I’m trying to learn, trying to figure out, trying to process. And I think children’s literature even more so.
I find that if I can figure out how to talk to a child about something, that means I’ve gotten to a greater level of clarity, a greater sense of my own beliefs. I find conversations with kids to be much more grounding than conversations with adults, because I think we have a lot of defenses that we can maneuver in, especially in more challenging conversations.
LE: There is some educational content in the book about being trans and about transitioning. How did you pick out those pieces and what was important to you about including those teachable moments?
KR: My truth around that is, as a cisgender person, this was a huge part of my learning — understanding these words and unpacking gender for myself. In writing a children’s book about this topic it felt really important [to add] those pieces, because I imagined a fair amount of the adults who would be reading this book to children would need that support as they navigated children’s questions.
LE: What's one moment or scene from the book that carries deep meaning for you?
KR: There’s a moment in the store where the child comes back around to the parent and is ready to talk and ask questions. I love this moment both because it is true to my family’s experience, and also because it captures a truth about how children process information and ask questions when and where they are ready.
LE: Who do you hope will read this book, and what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
KR: In the last couple of weeks I’ve been hearing “Oh, so-and-so is reading this,” and each time I get really touched. Recently, a family friend who is a retired early childhood educator reached out and said that she sent the book to a school where she knows there's a particular kid whose parent is transitioning. Hearing that was very meaningful to me.
Like I said earlier, I have this real belief in the power of children’s literature supporting adults. Of course, it supports kids — that’s why we write it — but I think it also has a tremendous power to support adults to lean into difficult conversations and to find words for themselves.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Lisa Ellrodt is a ParentCorps Educator.