A Canadian non-profit has created what it claims to be the first educational transgender toy to help children learn about gender identity.

Gender Creative Kids, based in Montreal, say they hope to reduce transphobia with "Sam", a trans boy and Russian doll-style toy.

Made up of a series of other dolls, every layer of the "You Inside" toy represents each stage of how Sam went from being a baby girl – "happily unaware of what gender even is" – to a boy, where he "finally feels accepted and supported in the expression of his true identity".

Aimed for children aged three and up, the creators have set up a Kickstarter to raise the CA$137,500 (£82,000, €93,000) needed to fund the project and hope to ship the first batch in Spring 2018.

"Our mission is to educate people around the world about gender identity issues," the organisation says.

"Sam is an essential tool designed to help children understand what it means to grow up as a transgender child."

Gender Creative Kids says it hopes the toy will also be used by teachers in the classroom.

"Sam gives every teacher the opportunity to help stop transphobia before it starts by teaching young people about gender issues and the importance of empathy and kindness," it adds.

"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. Sam helps children empathize with the emotional challenges of being born a transgender or gender-diverse person."

The organisation has also created a short animated film to go alongside the toy, telling children more of Sam's journey from a girl to a boy.

In the UK, the number of transphobic hate crimes reported to the police has surged in recent years, with figures from 2016 showing they had nearly trebled in the previous five years.

Last year, Parliament's Women and Equalities Committee urged ministers to draw up a new strategy to tackle discrimination against transgender people – saying they faced high levels of transphobia "on a daily basis".

It estimated there are as many as 650,000 people in the UK who are "gender incongruent to some degree" and that transphobia affects their careers, incomes, living standards and mental and physical health.

About a third of transgender adults and half of "gender-variant" young people attempt suicide, the committee added.