Toyland is in transition.

A Canadian nonprofit is developing what they’re calling “the world’s first educational transgender toy” to get kids and parents talking about gender issues to stop transphobia before it develops in future generations.

Gender Creative Kids Canada introduced Sam, actually a nesting doll of six figures who each embody the different stages of Sam’s journey to finding his true self, with an animated video that has drawn more than one million Facebook views in two weeks.

Sam's Story

Meet Sam, the inspiration behind the world's first educational transgender toy. Watch Sam's Story then support our mission to stop transphobia before it starts by pledging on our Kickstarter: http://theyouinsideproject.com

Posted by Enfants transgenres Canada/ Gender Creative Kids Canada on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

While UCLA estimates that 150,000 U.S. youth ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, the actual number of tweens and children is unknown. That’s because no national surveys have been done, and pediatricians don’t normally ask for a child’s own gender identity, or report his or her responses to any national health registries.

Gender Creative Kids Canada notes that the children and adults who do come out as trans are often born into cultures that don’t accept them, and suffer physical and emotional abuse and sexual harassment as a result. This in turn makes them more likely to suffer depression and feelings that can lead to self-harm and suicide.

But research also shows that play-based learning serves to both teach children and open up opportunities for parents to talk to their kids about difficult subjects. So Sam can help stop transphobia before it develops by getting kids and parents to talk about how some people are not born into a body that matches how they feel inside, and showing empathy and kindness toward them.

“Awareness of variations in gender identity is increasing in many countries, but there are still very few tools available that allow parents or teachers to talk to young children about this sensitive, complex subject,” explains the project’s Kickstarter page, which has raised almost $10,000 toward its $105,000 goal. “Sam helps children empathize with the emotional challenges of being born a transgender or gender-diverse person.”

The tiniest, innermost version of Sam begins as a happy baby, blissfully unaware of what gender even is – although Sam is already dressed in a pink onesie. The other dolls show Sam exploring gender norms and displaying confusion as Sam questions his identity and cuts off his long hair, as well as isolation as he separates himself from others as a result of not feeling accepted. But the largest, final Sam is happy and presenting as male after his family and friends accept him.

Sam and an accompanying heart charm and storybook are available for $75 on Kickstarter, and will ship from Montreal in June 2018 providing the project gets funded. He’s recommended for ages three and up.

The toymakers caution that Sam’s path does not represent every trans person’s journey. It’s also not recommended as a diagnostic tool to determine whether your child might be trans. But Sam is a start in understanding what thousands of kids are going through.

It’s the same philosophy embodied by other inclusive toys, including the trans Jazz Jennings doll modeled after the teen activist and author of “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, which debuted at New York Toy Fair last February. “I hope that it can place transgender people in a positive light by showing that we are just like all other people,” Jazz wrote on Instagram at the time.

American Girls also introduced its first male doll, Logan Everett, in February.  Mattel is finally diversifying Ken dolls to include seven new skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hair styles (including cornrows and man buns) and three body types.

And Pittsburgh nonprofit Hello Hijab crafted $6 hijabs for children to put on their Barbies and other dolls this spring to encourage tolerance of cultures that cover their heads.

“While we may look different and have different beliefs, our similarities far outweigh our differences. We strive for a world where we all live and love together,” they said.