The Reading Protocol

The Reading Protocol - make ANY book inclusive!
The Reading Protocol is 3 ways to create a gender-inclusive reading of any book. With this protocol you have an opportunity to provide queer, trans & nonbinary reflection, dismantle the binary, and break down stereotypes & assumptions no matter what book you read.

We don’t have to wait for books to reflect us. Whether they ban books or not, you can adapt and change the books you have right now.

Current statistics show that the number of LGBTQ+ books would need to double (more likely triple) to even come close to being reflective of our communities. And, not only that, but the majority of books about the LGBTQ+ community are not actually written BY us which means they often contain unconscious bias.

We explore the Reading Protocol more and practice it in our Gender Wheel Trainings.

Reading Protocol

1. READ with the Pronoun Protocol
Use singular “They” or a character’s name unless they explicitly state their pronoun. This means making verb adjustments.

EXAMPLE: He is reading his book. → changes to → They are reading their book.
What this does: Models using “they” as an inclusive default instead of assuming “he” or “she.” Helps interrupt binary assumptions from forming.
*Learn more about the Pronoun Protocol here.

2. REFRAME and ADAPT with Playing with Pronouns
Make a list of characters in the book and a range of pronouns then decide with the kid (or kids) your reading to what pronouns to use for each character.

What this does: Opportunity to practice using lots of pronouns. New diverse adaptations that un-erase those who are often STILL left out of books. Expands creative thinking.
*See the bookmark PDF for a cheat sheet of a variety of pronouns.

3. REINTERPRET to Fully Disrupt Assumptions and the “Girl Boy Lie”
Switch out pronouns and use “she” for a “he” character and “he” for a “she” character.

EXAMPLE: She is playing with her dolls. → changes to → He is playing with his dolls.
What this does: Interrupts formalization of stereotypes for what “he” or “she” looks like. Breaks down binary gender roles. Expands our thinking and encourages complete acceptance and respect for everybody to freely be who they are.
*The Playing with Pronouns card deck can be a great resource. For example, if a character is wearing a dress, there are several characters in the card deck that are wearing dresses and use “he” and can give faces to these reinterpreted stories.

Download the Bookmark PDF so you can take this protocol on the go.

But, is it fair to change the author’s intent for a character?
This is a way of extending the creative process for personal and/or educational purposes. Un-erasing the many people who are still not included in nearly ALL narratives is a valuable and powerful practice for kids to be involved in. Especially kids from communities that are often erased like queer, trans, and intersex people.

It’s also worth noting that comic books and movie remakes often take great liberties in “reinterpreting” characters, also going so far as to change genders at times to make stories more contemporary or inclusive.

These are not unimaginable people. In fact, by simply using this protocol you would reflect many real-life nonbinary, queer, trans and intersex people. Beloved FICTIONAL characters from favorite classics can expand and create even deeper, more nuanced versions that can bring actual relevance and reflection to queer, trans, and intersex kids.