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Finally there’s a children’s album on gender freedom

Chana Rothman

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Chana Rothman was unsure what to do when her son, a toddler, asked to wear a dress to school. She searched for children’s music rooted in messages of gender freedom to engage in positive parenting but came up short. After reaching dead end after dead end, Rothman decided to write her own album on gender identity and expression – the groundbreaking Rainbow Train, which debuts May 12.

Rainbow Train, Rothman’s first children’s album, offers guidance to parents and teachers who want to support healthy gender development by disarming the gender binary that society currently imposes on us all.

“Today’s young people need songs that show them all the choices and possibilities that they are allowed to become. The more they can see beyond the ‘pink” and ‘blue’ that gets pushed on them, the happier and more confident they will be. This goes for adults too,” Rothman says.

A soundtrack for gender liberation, Rainbow Train covers all the bases – anti-bullying, love, acceptance and pride – and strives to create a world where children are free of the expectations and pressures embedded in gender constraints and stereotypes. It also harks back to the mid-1970s’ “Free to Be… You and Me” by Marlo Thomas and Friends, which served as inspiration for her album, Rothman notes.

Though created for children, the album is musically advanced – full of catchy hooks and melodies that adults won’t mind listening to on repeat. Rainbow Train has a style for everyone: folk, ballad, hip-hop, disco, pop, spoken word, rock, Latin jazz, and children’s voices in dialogue.

Rothman grew up in Toronto before moving to New York City and eventually settling in Philadelphia to start a family. She’s performed her music all over the world, and she hopes Rainbow Train can become a valuable resource for parents and children dealing with issues of gender identity and freedom.



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Posted by on Apr 21, 2015. Filed under Entertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Finally there’s a children’s album on gender freedom”

  1. This is SO amazing!!
    We need this so much in the world!!
    SO EXCITED for this album!

  2. I’m SO happy you’re releasing this album. I grew up with Free to Be… You and Me. It has always had a special place in my heart AND I’ve always thought of it as the most progressive children’s album of all time. Until I started playing it for my kids. I used to hear lyrics like “When mommies were little, they used to be girls… There are a lot of things a lot of mommies can do” as empowering girls to do and be whatever they wanted. Now I also hear it reinforcing a cisgender normativity. I want my kids to know that some mommies used to be boys, some daddies used to be girls, and that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you fall along the gender spectrum. Thanks, Chana for blazing this trail. I’m all aboard the rainbow train!

  3. Thank you so much for this absolutely perfect review/write-up. I am so grateful to you for nailing exactly where I was coming from in writing this album, and exactly what my goals are. You even referenced perfectly the role that “Free to be You and Me” played. I really appreciate it! Yours in gender liberation, Chana

  4. Chana….I can’t believe we are in each other’s backyards, both working on similar issues. It feels comforting to know that I was not “the only” mommy who was dealing with gender identity issues with children I work with. I would love to talk some time…will try to find you on Facebook. In the meantime, I have a companion song for your CD, called “WHO I AM” that I wrote after last year’s events involving little Sunnie, who cut her hair short for Locks of Love and then was asked to leave her private school for not being feminine enough, and Grayson, a 9 or 10 year old boy who wore a My Little Pony Backpack to school and was shamed and bullied for it with little or no intervention by the school, until it made the media headlines. I stewed for days, so upset at what was happening, and then ended up writing and recording this song with a group of middle schoolers whose parents completely supported the intention of this song. If you would like to hear “WHO I AM”, it is on my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/anniebirdd. I am so glad that you are doing what you can to help kids with gender identity and exploration of themselves. The Pop Ups also have a song “Costume Party” that is in the same vein, and when I talked to them at KindieComm in Philly last month, they both agreed that children’s musicians need to start writing songs that will help kids examine their feelings, or even that those feelings are ok, and they don’t need to make any decisions until they are ready. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING CHANA! L’Hitraot, Annie Lynn AnnieBirdd Music, LLC

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