A children’s book in an American Girl-branded series of self-help guides presents puberty blockers as a potential way to “give you more time to think about your gender identity.”
In early December 2022, several conservative pundits and media outlets including Fox News, The New York Post, and The Daily Mail reported negatively on a new addition to the American Girl-branded series of books dubbed “A Smart Girl’s Guide.” The latest installment, “Smart Girls Guide: Body Image,” has drawn the ire of anti-trans activists because it informs young children about puberty blockers. As described by American Girl:
Every girl needs to learn to live comfortably in her own skin, and this book will show the way! In these pages, a girl will find everything she needs to know about loving her unique self, staying confident through her body’s many changes, and appreciating her body for the life it lets her live. Full of activities, tips, crafts, and real-girl stories, this book is a feel-good reminder that all bodies are worthy of love and respect.
It bears mentioning that claims that this book is tailored to children as young as three are in conflict with American Girl’s promotional material, which states that this book is specifically geared toward children ages 10 and up. In response to criticism, American Girl defended the book, explaining to TMZ that:
We value the views and feedback of our customers and acknowledge the perspectives on this issue. The content in this book, geared for kids 10+, was developed in partnership with medical and adolescent care professionals and consistently emphasizes the importance of having conversations and discussing any feelings with parents or trusted adults.
This same book, written by Mel Hammond and published in February 2022, is also the subject of another Snopes fact check: Does An American Girl Book Give Children “Advice On Changing Genders“?
At issue in this fact check is a statement about puberty blocking drugs from “Smart Girl’s Guide: Body Image” that is widely cited in critical news reports:
If you haven’t gone through puberty yet, the doctor might offer medicine to delay your body’s changes, giving you more time to think about your gender identity.
Here is that portion of the text as it appears in the book:
Several studies have demonstrated that access to gender affirming care, including puberty blockers, significantly reduces the incidence of negative mental health outcomes including suicidal ideation or self-harm in trans children.
Because a quote in “A Smart Girl’s Guide: Body Image” is accurately represented in critical news reports, Snopes rates the statement as correctly attributed to an American Girl book.
“A Smart Girl’s Guide: Body Image Book.” Americangirl.Com, https://www.americangirl.com/products/a-smart-girls-guide-body-image-book-hgv01. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.
Almazan, Anthony N., and Alex S. Keuroghlian. “Association Between Gender-Affirming Surgeries and Mental Health Outcomes.” JAMA Surgery, vol. 156, no. 7, July 2021, pp. 611–18. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2021.0952.
American Girl Angers Parents with Book Teaching Kids about Gender Expression. 7 Dec. 2022, https://nypost.com/2022/12/07/american-girl-angers-parents-with-book-teaching-kids-about-gender-expression/.
“American Girl Doubles Down On Kid Book About Gender Transition, Amid Backlash.” TMZ, https://www.tmz.com/2022/12/08/american-girl-book-kid-children-gender-transitioning-baclkash/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.
“Gender-Affirming Care Saves Lives.” Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, 23 June 2021, https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/gender-affirming-care-saves-lives.
Hammer, Alex. “American Girl under Fire for Book That Teaches Girls to Change Gender.” Mail Online, 6 Dec. 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11509601/American-Girl-accused-stripping-away-innocence-book-teaches-girls-change-gender.html.
Tordoff, Diana M., et al. “Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths Receiving Gender-Affirming Care.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 5, no. 2, Feb. 2022, p. e220978. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.0978.