Understanding gender identity can be difficult for kids, but a group of advocates are hoping to change that with Sam, a doll that transitions from female to male.
Gender Creative Kids Canada has developed Sam, a Russian-style nesting doll, with Toronto toymaker Happy Worker. As you stack the layers, Sam gets older—and transitions from a sad young girl to a happy, thriving teenage boy.
At the base of every Sam doll is a heart-shaped charm, which signifies "Sam's true self, regardless of gender presentation."
Gender Creative Kids Canada launched a Kickstarter to help get the figurine into production. If it reaches its $106,000 fundraising goal by August 12, Sam will start shipping in spring 2018. .
Sam is aimed at children ages 3 and up, but is also intended as a tool for educators to include in classroom lessons. An accompanying booklet and animated video about Sam will be sent to schools across Quebec.
"Most gender-questioning children are born into cultures that don't accept them. They are often subjected to physical, verbal and sexual harassment leading to feelings of rejection, isolation and confusion," the group explains on its Kickstarter page. "We knew that for us to have the biggest long-term impact possible we needed to engage the people who will shape the cultural norms of the future: children."
Below, Sam's creator shares the doll's heartwarming story in an animated short.