“Once upon a time, in a far away land, lived a King and Queen...”
The Royal Heart has all the hallmarks of a classic fairy tale—a whimsical kingdom setting, the use of language like “thy” and “shall” and, of course, a princess protagonist—but there’s a twist. While it follows the traditional fairy tale format, it's actually a children’s book that focuses on transgender issues.
So it begins, “Once upon a time, in a far away land, lived a King and Queen...” Lyric is a young prince who is set to follow in his father’s footsteps and become king. He has a tough time growing up, worried that he’s not living as his true self and that he won’t be able to succeed to the throne. He runs away to find his grandmother’s spirit who helps him magically transform into a princess named Lyra. The princess returns to the castle and is accepted by her family, and ends up ruling the kingdom as the person she's always been on the inside.
A book of this nature is long overdue. Beyond Blue reports that up to 50% of trans people have attempted suicide at least once in their lives, most doing so in their adolescent years, with discrimination and exclusion being key factors in poor mental health. Targeted at ages 4-8, The Royal Heart aims to teach kids about acceptance, love, courage and family—whether they identify as trans or not.
Written by New York-based author Greg McGoon (and illustrated by freelance Disney artist J. Orr), The Royal Heart is the first in a collection of fairy tale books that will recognize LGBTQI characters and issues.
This article originally appeared on The Creators Project Australia.