Author of Award-Winning Transgender Children’s Book to Speak in Canby

Alex Gino, author of the award-winning children’s book George, which tells the story of a transgender fourth-grader, and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!, will host an author event and book signing at the second floor ballroom of the Backstop Bar & Grill in Canby on March 31. Gino is non-binary and uses the pronouns they, them and their. 

George is Gino’s debut novel and best-known work. It tells the story of a transgender girl, Melissa, who the world sees as a boy named George. She dreams of playing Charlotte, the female spider, rather than Wilbur, the male pig, in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. The book has won numerous awards and has been praised by teachers, parents and LGBTQ advocates as a “life-saving book.”

“Canby is an amazing community with a remarkable capacity for empathy,” explained Sarah Spoon, owner of Victory Point Property Group and one of the lead organizers for the event. “However, transgender youth remain invisible or fearful around the world.”

Tragically, studies show more than half of transgender male teens have attempted suicide in their lifetime, as have 30 percent of transgender female teens and 42 percent of non-binary youth.

“We thought this might be one small way to not just bring an amazing, award-winning author to our community — but to give a space for visibility, understanding, and empathy for a population in our town that is too often invisible, targeted or underrepresented when we should simply love,” Spoon said. “George is amazing, as is Alex Gino’s new book, You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!, and we’re excited to share them with the town!”

George has also been controversial, particularly among conservative Christian groups. It appeared on the American Library Association’s list of the 10 Most Challenged Books in 2016 and 2017, and this past summer, the Canby School District was one of several to exclude George from their reading lists for the popular Oregon Battle of the Books competition.

District Superintendent Trip Goodall told the Canby Herald that “the book’s theme about a transgender elementary school student was not a factor” in the decision, but that it contained certain references district leadership felt were too mature for younger audiences.

Gino will appear for a reading, author talk, Q&A and book signing at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 31. The entrance for the Backstop ballroom is on Grant Street, next to the restaurant entrance. ADA entrance will be on Second Street, next to the bar entrance.

The event will be free, with pre- and on-site sales of Gino’s books offered through The Book Nook (pre-ordering is encouraged due to expected demand on-site). A portion of these sales will support the Canby High School GSA Club. 

Photo by Christoph Rieger.  

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