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For more than 150 years, children have been captivated by the tale of The Owl And The Pussy-Cat and their adventures in a ‘beautiful pea-green boat’.

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear’s famous poem, saying the word ‘pussy’ now has ‘linguistic connotations’ that did not apply when it was written in 1871.

Rebranded The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children’s tale called Peter’s Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES).

Aimed at seven-to-11-year-olds, the book details the central character Peter informing his teacher that one of his parents has transitioned to become a woman named Rosie.

Rebranded The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children's tale called Peter's Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) (pictured)

Rebranded The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children's tale called Peter's Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) (pictured)

Rebranded The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children’s tale called Peter’s Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) (pictured)

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear's famous poem, saying the word 'pussy' now has 'linguistic connotations' that did not apply when it was written in 1871

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear's famous poem, saying the word 'pussy' now has 'linguistic connotations' that did not apply when it was written in 1871

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear’s famous poem, saying the word ‘pussy’ now has ‘linguistic connotations’ that did not apply when it was written in 1871

The teacher reads Lear’s iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy tries unsuccessfully to shed light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced by the word kitty. As such, the poem begins: ‘The Owl and the Kitty-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat.’

The love-struck owl then serenades his ‘beautiful kitty’.

Literary experts last night said that the new version was ill-advised and even counterproductive. Derek Johns, of the Edward Lear Society, said: ‘Lear was the most amazing all-rounder and Renaissance man, a painter, drawer, writer and traveller.

‘He would be absolutely gutted by anyone fiddling with the work in this way. The charity’s version of the poem has absolutely nothing to do with Edward Lear because it was not written by him. I very much hope it’s not taken up by any schools in the UK.’

In teaching notes to accompany the story, GIRES – which campaigns on behalf of ‘trans and gender diverse’ individuals – states: ‘The core of the story is the famous Owl and the Pussy-cat poem which in order to avoid linguistic associations that were not applicable in Edward Lear’s day, has been changed to the Owl and the Kitty-cat.’

The poem, which tells the story of the two characters sailing away ‘for a year and a day’ to get married in the land ‘where the bong-tree grows’, has never faded from popularity, with Dame Judi Dench, Sir Billy Connolly and John Cleese among stars who have made recordings of Lear’s version in recent years. Biographer and literary critic Andrew Lycett said: ‘The change to Edward Lear’s poem is particularly ill-advised.

‘It suggests that the word ‘pussy’ is intrinsically sexually charged and suggestive. That is not how a child sees the word, which is still widely used in families as an affectionate term for a cat.’

The teacher reads Lear's iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy tries unsuccessfully to shed light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced by the word kitty. As such, the poem begins: 'The Owl and the Kitty-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat'

The teacher reads Lear's iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy tries unsuccessfully to shed light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced by the word kitty. As such, the poem begins: 'The Owl and the Kitty-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat'

The teacher reads Lear’s iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy tries unsuccessfully to shed light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced by the word kitty. As such, the poem begins: ‘The Owl and the Kitty-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat’

He added that ‘kitty’ is also a word with sexual connotations, citing the phrase ‘sex kitten’ as one example.

A spokesperson for GIRES said the book, written by the late author Terry Reed, was first published in 2014 to help teachers discuss trans or gender diverse issues, adding: ‘In contemporary times, pussy is widely recognised as profanity.

‘It is considered a derogatory word that dehumanises women, reducing them to sexual objects.

‘As the cat in the story is the female partner, Terry preferred to use the words kitty-cat, which means a domestic cat and which fits with a children’s poem.’

The spokesperson said: ‘Terry also acknowledges and apologises to Edward Lear for messing with his wonderful poem.’

Source: Daily Mail

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