Isabel Tormo

What is it?

Stickum Stories is an interactive story-building collection of books designed to encourage transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse kids to speak their thoughts and emotions and create and share their own stories with adults in their support system.

Stickum Stories is marketed to social workers, therapists, and other adults who work with and support trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse children.

Users can react to the story…

What would Val do next? How do you think Val feels about that? What would they talk about?

Using the Stickums, the user chooses to share their thoughts and perspective.

This is important for adults to understand how the user’s support system affects the user.

…or create their own stories!

The ability to create their own expression, characters, and stories gives the user the opportunity to explore their thoughts and practice talking about them with others.


Children who experience dysphoria, especially gender dysphoria, often feel isolated and hopeless, which can lead to depression and other mental illness established at a very young age.

By understanding and listening to their perspectives, social workers, therapists, and other trusted adults can support the child by ensuring a healthy support system and encouraging the child to express themself.


In the beginning stages of my thesis, I came across an article in the Philly Gay News about a private elementary school north of Philadelphia. This school was visited by an official in the Department of Education in response to their public statement about not supporting transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming children. They are legally allowed to discriminate against trans children because they don’t receive funding from the government.

Photo by @talyahopsphotography on Instagram


Across nine months, I executed research in multiple subjects, such as in developmental psychology, queer studies, and user research.

Because children are such a protected study group, it was difficult to find consistent users for my research, so I interviewed lots of stakeholders. Some of the locations I visited were elementary schools, Penn Children’s Center, and the Gender and Sexuality Clinic at CHOP. I also read tons of research studies, educational resources, and accounts of children expressing themselves.

Design Criteria

must encourage interaction with others, especially support system

must be user-driven to encourage agency

dependent on creation, exploration, and reflection of own experiences

Product Development


Lots of sketching was involved in the making of this product, from technical sketching to illustrative sketching.


I used numerous prototyping methods, such as rapid prototyping, sewing, and woodworking, to explore the way a user interacts with the product.

If children are the future, then the toys we provide for them are crucial to their development. Designers have a responsibility to care for and empower their users. My designs empower the user by encouraging empathy and exploration in diversity.

Thank you!

Isabel Tormo

Hi! I’m Izzy.

I’m a toy designer who has lived in MA, FL, CA, TX, NY, and Philly. Among my many interests are developmental psychology, social activism, and all things cute!

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