The Little Transgender Mermaid: A Shape-Shifting Tale

  • Nat Hurley
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature book series (CRACL)


From the mainstream media accounts to the medical literature and community organizations, transgender children, it would seem, are obsessed with mermaids. Take, for instance, Barbara Walters’s 2007 20/20 segment “My Secret Life: A Story of Transgender Children.” Walters meets a six-year-old child named Jazz who collects mermaids and whose parents describe the ubiquity of the icon for transgirls. Jazz’s mother, Renee Jennings, claims that all young transgirls are obsessed with mermaids, and the scenes of Jazz’s bedroom show mermaids everywhere. Even the show’s opening clip of Jazz (which also serves as the transition from commercials) depicts her in mermaid iconography reminiscent of Walt Disney’s Ariel; Jazz emerges from the water, on the beach, wearing a purple bikini, and running her fingers back through her hair — just like Disney’s transfigured princess. Similarly, “A Boy’s Life” in The Atlantic (2008) describes the se If-fashioning of Brandon, a child who, we are told, “drew himself as a mermaid with a sparkly purple tail, or a tail cut out from black velvet” (Rosin l).1


Fairy Tale Gender Identity Disorder Trans People National Public Radio Secret Life 
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Copyright information

© Nat Hurley 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nat Hurley

There are no affiliations available

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