Joshua Hill

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Languages, Literatures and Cultures

First Advisor

Julia Lopez-Robertson

Second Advisor

Cathy A. R. Brant


This research was a critical content analysis of picture books that contained transgender children utilizing Butler’s (2004, 2006) performativity of gender and recognizability of gender alongside Engdahls’s (2014) wrong-body discourse. The question was, how do picture books about transgender represent various versions of queerness in children? This analysis was done by examining 20 total picture books which included 10 books about trans girls, six books about trans boys, and four books about nonbinary children. These 20 books were then broken down into eight books for a deeper analysis of the ways that queerness was represented. The findings included the ways in which these children both upheld gender norms and also resisted these same norms. The dress as a clothing item became the focal point for both trans girls and trans boys, with trans girls viewing this clothing item as the most important element of claiming their femininity. Trans boys had to reject the dress as a way to assert that they were not girls, but there were no other single items that defined boyhood for trans boys in the same way a dress defined girlhood for trans girls. The trans children resisted gender norms when they claimed a different gender identity than what was assigned to them at birth. In addition, they transgressed gender norms within their play and their bedroom decorations. Finally, nonbinary children illustrated queerness through their refusal to define their gender identity for others and their desire to exhibit both male typical and female typical play and gender expressions.


© 2020, Joshua Hill