‘Be Yourself’ is written by Jackie Swirsky and illustrated by her 7-year-old gender creative son Jacob Swirsky and sister-in-law Jaimee Appel. Be Yourself features a gender creative child as the main character and teaches the message of acceptance. It empowers children to be proud of themselves just as they are and be accepting of all people no matter their style. It provides positive language around gender diversity and gives strategies for how to be accepting of others. At the end of the book, child-friendly discussion questions are provided to guide a dialogue about acceptance in a gender context. This discussion can be followed by information on how to create an inclusive, supportive environment for gender creative children.
“The message of acceptance of all people no matter their style is an important message for me to share. I am a mom of a gender creative child. This means my child who was born a boy, identifies as a boy but expresses himself in a feminine way by the clothes he wears, his interests, body language etc. When my son began kindergarten I was scared. I was worried my innocent child would be bullied because of his gender expression and I wouldn’t be there to protect him. Would the teachers know how to support him? Would he be accepted by friends?
I felt I had to do something, therefore I became a passionate advocate for my child. My goal is to have more people understand what it means to be ‘gender creative’. Not only do I want understanding but I strive for a world of acceptance and respect. By writing ‘Be Yourself’, I hope to teach the language of acceptance we use in our home. I believe that children should be loved and supported for who they are not for who we expect them to be. ‘Be Yourself’ can be used as a tool for parents and teachers to help deliver this message of acceptance and make the world a safer and more inclusive place for my child and our next generation of gender creative kids.” -Jackie Swirsky
“An important, delightful and thought-provoking book. A must read for children, parents, educators, and others who care about the well-being of all of our children.”
– Barbara Coloroso, Author of ‘Kids Are Worth It!’ and ‘The Bully, The Bullied, and The Not-So-Innocent Bystander’
“Jackie Swirsky has done what no one else before her has in Be Yourself – written an accessible, lively book that lets young children know that children can be ever so creative when it comes to their gender, and all of us should feel proud of who we are and love everyone else for who they are – and learn that clothes and toys and what you like to do are not for boys or girls, but for all people. A must read for children and parents, and a book that should be in the library of every early childhood program.”
– Diane Ehersaft, PhD Author of ‘Gender Born, Gender Made’
Jackie has a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology (SLP) from the University of Alberta and currently works as a full-time SLP. She is the mother of 2 kids and the author of a children’s book, Be Yourself. The book empowers children to be proud of themselves and be accepting of all people no matter their style. Jackie is a passionate speaker on gender identity and how educators can support children’s gender diversity in schools.