Waterstones defends trans children’s author after hateful backlash

Waterstones bookshop and Welcome to St Hell: My trans teen misadventure

Waterstone’s has come out in support of a trans author after receiving hateful backlash for nominating their work for a children’s book prize.

The prestigious Children’s Book Prize celebrates the work of children’s authors and illustrators, and offers a £5,000 prize to its annual winner.

One book shortlisted on Waterstones 2023 nominations comes from the trans comedy creator and author-illustrator, Lewis Hancox.

Documenting his time as a teenager in Welcome to St Hell: My trans teen misadventure, the graphic novel is a hilarious – and sometimes heartbreaking – tale of how Lewis became the trans man he is today.

However, so-called ‘gender critical’ activists have reacted to the nominations with waves of hatred against the UK bookstore and the author himself.

Despite the retailer saying the book is only suitable for those 14-years and up, gender critics have recited harmful rhetoric that Hancox’s book will be damaging for children, and threats of a boycott. Its Twitter post was flooded with anti-trans comments.

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In a move to support the trans author, and the trans community at large, Waterstones followed the ‘gender critical’ attacks with a statement in support of the book and its nomination.

“We are enormously proud of every book presented in our Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023 shortlist,” Waterstones said.

“Lewis Hancox’s Welcome to St Hell is a work championed by our booksellers and represents a lived experience of courage that deserves to be properly read rather than have pages taken out of context.

“The book remains a source of reassurance for those moving through similar experiences and a stepping off point for informed, respectful conversation,” they continued.

Despite the backlash from ‘gender critical’ activists, readers of the book have left overwhelmingly, positive reviews on the Waterstones website.

One person wrote:  “I can completely see what a lifeline this book would be for any trans young person and their family, although I would still recommend it to any adult or teen out there, as a reminder that you weren’t alone during those awkward years.”

Another person wrote: “I think this story will mean a lot to a lot of young people. I know that there are people in my life that I’ll be buying copies for.”

PinkNews has contacted the author for comment.

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