Chana Rothman, a Philadelphia based singer-songwriter, music educator, and mother of two

Chana Rothman’s CD for LGBT families and their kids.

What do you do if you’re a musician and a mom, and one day your son comes to you and asks about wearing a dress to school?

If you’re Chana Rothman, a Philadelphia based singer-songwriter, music educator, and mother of two, you write a song for your son, explaining that gender nonconformity is okay.

Rothman has released Rainbow Train, an innovative new CD that imagines a world free of gender barriers. As a parent and educator, Rothman knows that—like sexuality—gender expression is a spectrum and should not be rigidly defined and enforced.

“All children deserve to be treated with respect for who they are,” says Rothman.

Curve chatted to Rothman to find out more about the CD.

What is your connection to the LGBT community?

An ally—also a member as a relatively out bisexual. Have been more and less deeply involved throughout my life. I feel this is one of my “home” places to be—I look at the world through a queer lens and my experiences in the LGBT community, both as a member and an ally, have deeply shaped how I look at the world.

How will you be spending Pride, and what does Pride mean to you?

There is some very exciting Pride movement this year to have Youth Pride and Trans Pride—we are realizing that Pride as a concept is important, and we also have the opportunity to move beyond corporate-sponsored events (which are often 21+) and look at the different needs within the community to honor and celebrate the many faces of who we all are.

What was the exact moment of inspiration for Rainbow Train?

When I realized that nothing like this exited yet, and I was exactly the right person to create it!

What is one of your personal favorite tracks on the CD and why?

I love each of them so much! But I think that “Rainbow Train” (title track) really drives it all home for me. I remember my child, at that time a wildly enthusiastic fan of trains, walked out the door to preschool with my partner, and as soon as he left I thought: What if there was a rainbow train??!

As I honed that song and workshopped it with my songwriting group, then ran it by Diane Ehresaft (author of Gender Born, Gender Made) and got her feedback, it turned out in the end that “Rainbow Train” the song echoes and reinforces all the messages of Rainbow Train the album and the idea. Plus, it’s fun, it has kids sounding joyful, and it just feels like it sends exactly the message I wanted to send. And it’s catchy!

What tune do you find children respond to instinctively?

Honestly it depends on the child. The mom of a very sweet trans girl I met when running Kids Camp at the Trans Health Conference sent me a video of her dancing to “Gender Blender” while clutching the CD—it was beautiful.

Other kids like the quiet song “Holy” and lots of kids love to sing “No fuss! No muss!” (which is a line from the disco/hip hop song “Dress Up and Dance.”) Each song has a different feel, style, and delivery so kids respond differently. My 2-year-old loves “Butterflies” but his favorite is “Gender Blender”—mostly because he loves blenders!

What has been the reaction to the CD and has there been any opposition to the CD?

Overwhelmingly positive. People have expressed appreciation, relief, joy, tears, and tremendous enthusiasm that this music is out there in the world.

I’m sad to say that the only people who have been nasty or negative are some (in their own words) radical lesbian feminists who have said transphobic things about one of the artists on the album and some biphobic and judgmental things about me. I wish that wasn’t the group who went hateful, but as far as I can see, it is. Just a few people, but that’s all it takes.

How important is it to prospective LGBT moms-to-be, to make available to themselves and their children authentic LGBT reading, visual and aural materials?  

It’s always important to have “mirrors” in the world so you can see yourself!

Where can we get the CD?

The CD is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby amongst other providers. We are actively trying to share this music with as many people as possible so thank you for this feature! If you connect with this CD, it would be so wonderful if you can write a review at Amazon, CD Baby, or iTunes: