Melissa is a middle-grades work of fiction that was, from 2015 to 2022, titled George. This year, author Alex Gino renamed the multi-award-winning book to befit the true name of the main character, a child whose assigned gender at birth did not match her gender identity.
In this episode of #VelshiBannedBookClub, Gino and Citizen Board Member and MSNBC host Ali Velshi speak about the dangers of book banning. As the gender queer author of a banned book about growing up trans, “To be told what is wrong with the book is my existence is a real hit to the gut,” says Gino.
Banning a kids’ book can increase its visibility and sales, says Gino, but it still reduces access. “Most children do not have spending money to go to the bookstore,” they say, “School is the place where they can get that information, where they can get needed tools for figuring out who they are — and for figuring out who other people are.”
Without giving kids access to books like Melissa, “You end up with adults who are either hurt and scarred, or who don’t know how to interact with a trans person — and that’s where you get epidemic levels of violence against trans people, especially trans women of color.”
“I could have used this book as a kid. If I had had visibility of people like me, my life would be different now. I want to provide that for other people,” says Gino. “Information saves lives. Books save lives.”
Listen to the interview below:
Velshi and Gino Discuss Melissa:
Velshi on banned books on MSNBC:
MORE ON BOOKS FROM THE CITIZEN