“The Baby-Sitters Club” Models How to Support a Transgender Child

Parents of young children may have heard about a new show on Netflix that is receiving rave reviews about how diverse and unapologetically feminist it is. It shouldn’t be a surprise, because a lot of us grew up on the books in the 1980s and ’90s, reading themes that were quite ahead of their time. I’m talking about “The Baby-Sitters Club.” 

The new series follows the plot of the books…a bossy and entrepreneurial seventh grade girl comes up with the idea of starting a baby-sitting business with friends as a sort of social club. Their club is one way they support each other through teenhood and all the ups and downs that come with it. But it goes further than that. It also shows viewers how to support other people.

That’s what is at the core of Episode 4, “Mary Anne Saves the Day,” which centers around the story of quiet people-pleaser Mary Anne discovering that her newest sitting client named Bailey is a young transgender girl. It’s a sweet story where one girl learns that another girl in her life is trans and is only happy that she has a chance to be herself. 

The fact that Bailey is played by an actual transgender girl, Kai Shappley, is a second bit of sweetness. These two things…a trans girl playing a trans girl and that she is accepted…would be enough to make this a great show. Mary Anne even learns how understand and explain what being trans is in an age-appropriate way. 

As the old advertising says goes, “But wait…there’s more!”

This show isn’t just going to settle with telling the story of a trans girl being happy or modeling how easy it is to accept a trans person for who they are. No, they are going to dive into full ally-ship and advocacy for trans rights.

While in Mary Anne’s care, Bailey develops a fever that’s high enough to cause alarm. Mary Anne takes Bailey to the hospital, where the hospital staff immediately starts to misgender Bailey and refer to her as a boy. Witnessing the distress and shame that Bailey shows on her face with every misgendering episode helps Mary Anne find her confidence and her voice. In a moment of great courage and allyship, she corrects the two adults in front of her and ensures they treat Bailey with respect.

The immediate, contrite response by those adults may not be completely plausible, but this show really does teach by example. Young trans kids will identify with Bailey, and young viewers will get a lesson in compassion and allyship. It’s a must-see.

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