Rachel Rooney’s children’s book, My Body is Me, labelled ‘anti‑trans extremism’ The Times 16.12.19

The original article is here.

An author and poet has said that she has considered giving up after she was accused of peddling “terrorist propaganda” by transgender activists who criticised her book helping youngsters to accept and understand their bodies.

My Body is Me!, by Rachel Rooney, has been described as representing “an extreme ideology that explicitly targets children” by a fellow children’s author, Clara Vulliamy, creator of the Dotty Detective series.

Rooney, 57, wrote the book to counteract what she described as an “explosion” of titles that promoted the idea that children who felt confused about their gender may be “trapped in the wrong body”.

She said that her book, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, taught children to be comfortable with their bodies and featured characters of different races and with disabilities. The book says: “You’re born in your body, you don’t have a spare, so love it, hug it, treat it with care.”

My Body is Me! has been met with criticism since its publication this month, which has left Ms Rooney “floored” and considering leaving publishing.

A Twitter user with the name @Selenethoa, who describes themself as “femme-ish non-binary”, uploaded a picture of the book with the message: “If you wouldn’t let your kids read terrorist propaganda, don’t let them read this.” The post has been retweeted thousands of times.

Vulliamy, 57, wrote on Twitter: “Important! Parents, teachers and librarians should be aware that picture book My Body is Me!, with its seemingly wholesome ‘love the body you were born with’ message is published by Transgender Trend, a politically motivated trans-hostile group seeking in particular to infiltrate schools and undermine support for trans and gender-inquiring children.”

Transgender Trend is an organisation providing resource material for schools that abides by World Health Organisation guidelines suggesting a “watchful waiting” approach to children newly identifying as trans.

Vulliamy has called on Authors Aloud, an organisation that arranges storytelling visits to schools and libraries by authors and illustrators, to “be aware of this with author Rachel Rooney who is on your books; ideologically driven school visits could see us all in deep water”. Rooney said: “I didn’t know I’d be openly attacked by other authors. I certainly didn’t expect it to be so explosive.”

She added that she had not eaten or slept properly since the book was released.

Other children’s authors have come to her defence. John Dougherty, the creator of Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face, responded to Vulliamy, with a plea on Twitter. “Clara, I’m concerned to see you apparently attacking a fellow writer’s source of income because you disagree with her views,” he said. “Make your objections to Transgender Trend as loudly as you like but unless you’ve got good reason to suggest Rachel might behave unprofessionally on school visits, I don’t think this is fair.”

Authors Aloud said: “Rachel Rooney works with us in her capacity as a poet. We’ve had nothing but praise and compliments for the sessions she runs in schools so we’ve got absolutely no plans to stop working with her.”

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