Broken Turtle Blog

Broken Turtle Blog

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Disarming Tome of Trans Childhood

My Rainbow (Koala Penguin Random House, 2020)

by Trinity and DeShanna Neal

Illustrated by Art Twink

DeShanna Neal has crafted a disarming and instructive tale about trans kids, specifically, her daughter and collaborator in the tome, Trinity.

The whole issue does need disarming, having been heartlessly weaponized by capitalists and their allies sowing fear from a commercialized pulpit. As well, folks of a certain age like me need instruction, old dogs that we are, tripped up by pronouns.

With beautiful illustrations by Art Twink, the story opens in the living room of Trinity’s African American family. Trinity, a child with autism, sooths herself—DeShanna calls Trinity “her” and “she”—by stroking the soft pelt of the family’s pet pig, Peter Porker. But Trinity is troubled. She sees herself (identifies as?) a trans girl, so, she informs Mom, she wishes she had long hair.

Now, in the adult world, this suggests a host of fraught issues: about Black hair, about gendered hair lengths, about living with a host of other marginalized traits.

The reader, as well as Trinity, is quickly put at ease as DeShanna navigates these issues with the equanimity of a Buddhist—DeShanna is a Buddhist, by the way—and the tenderness of a loving mother. “We are all a little different from one another,” she tells here daughter. “You’re a beautiful rainbow.” As much as Trinity wants long hair, however, “it made her itchy when it was growing out,” Mom reports. Still, says wise Mom, “Trinity knew herself best of all. And if she said she needed long hair, she NEEDED long hair!”

Exactly how our happy ending unfolds, I’ll let the reader buy the book, but the final page says, “When each of your colors has space to shine, you light up the whole sky.”

Incidentally, DeShanna’s book has been banned in Texas, home of nation-wide schoolbook cancelling for decades. The enormous number of library and schoolbooks cancelled by a few right-wing activists in Texas—the dominant market in the USA—makes the small number of works some progressives have challenged pale into near insignificance. All the same, as a socialist writer and publisher, I think the cancelling tends to skirt due process, validate corporate and state censorship, and favor calling out over organizing the multiracial, multi-gendered working class.

And DeShanna’s work deals only with a mother’s wise and compassionate response to her trans-identifying daughter’s wishes for long hair. It’s not about medical treatments, about which, in the non-fiction world, DeShanna has been a champion. Texas attempts to deny the mere reality of a trans-childhood, lest it become socially contagious, a claim made in a recent paper by Lisa Littman called “Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to show signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria.” Littman interviewed only the confounded parents of trans teens, not trans teens themselves, and not trans teens driven from their families by such confounded parents, teens rendered homeless, sexually exploited, suicidal.

Now, Delaware’s big-hearted author DeShanna Neal is nationally celebrated as an activist, having advocated for trans-inclusive policies in the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D.E.I) Committee.

Haters often try to obscure the working-class-based intersectional solidarity in such activism. Pink-washing corporations often implement D.E.I programs for good P.R. and lawsuit-avoidance while continuing to funnel campaign support to fascists and LBGTQ-plus-phobes to fight unions and corporate taxes.

As DeShanna puts it in her campaign literature, “Currently, a conservative vocal minority and multi-millionaire corporations dominate the conversation in Dover. I believe in the power of individuals speaking for themselves.”

Did I forget to tell you DeShanna is running for office in Delaware Representative District 13, covering Elsmere? She hopes to replace House Majority Whip Rep. Larry Mitchell, a former police officer opposed to police accountability legislation and protections for the most basic human rights for people without housing.

Having graduated from Concord High-School (go Raiders!), Deshanna holds a master’s degree and is endorsed by Progressive Democrats of Delaware, the Working Families Party, Moms Demand Action/Gun Sense Legislation, and Delaware Democratic Socialists of America.

A person with DeShanna Neal’s courage, principles, and effectiveness will be an equally effective Representative for Elsmere.

My Rainbow is available at all major book outlets, including Amazon Kindle.

To get involved in DeShanna Neal’s campaign click