Halifax author to launch children’s book that celebrates gender identity

Inspired by a true story, author Cynthia Sweeney’s latest work, “The Pink Balloon,” is a children’s book that celebrates gender identity.

The children’s book follows a young girl named Briar through her journey of discovering her true self.

“I wanted a story that could help support parents and caregivers and teachers in talking about gender identity from a young age because we all have a gender identity, not only transgender and non-binary people,” says Sweeney.

Sweeney, who is a mother to a transgender child, says she wanted to write a story she wish she had for her own children, as she continues to advocate for the community.

“When you don’t have that language to be able to describe ways that you’re feeling, it can resonate outwards that there’s something, you know, you end up internalizing feelings that there’s something wrong with you and that you don’t fit in the world,” says Sweeney.

The book is based on the child of a mother Sweeney met at a parent support group for trans-expansive kids. She says when she heard the child’s story, she immediately asked if she could write about it.

“But I wanted it to be a really happy story and a positive story and the minute I heard hers I asked her if I could write it and she was fully supportive of that,” says Sweeney.

Sweeney wrote the book during the COVID-19 pandemic and teamed up with illustrator Briana Corr Scott. The book was released in the fall.

“We even have little stickers to accommodate the book and pins and they talk about the significance of the butterfly in the book,” says Sweeney.

In the book, the butterfly is a significant symbol within Sweeney’s family. She says it ties into transformation, beauty, and shining as who you are.

“It celebrates gender diversity and with Trans-Day of Visibility coming up in a couple days, I just think it’s so important to recognize that Trans-Day of Visibility is there,” she says. “It celebrates those who are able to be visible and who are out, but I think it’s so important to recognize that there are so many people who are not fully out and living partially out.”

While “The Pink Balloon” was released in the fall, Sweeney and her team will be celebrating Sunday with a book launch at the Keshen Goodman Library in Halifax.

“I’ve got a fabulous drag performer who is going to do face makeup and painting and I’m going to be there signing the book as well,” she says.

The event will take place from 1 pm to 3 pm

“The Pink Balloon” can be found online and at Chapters and Indigo bookstores.

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