Recommended Books with Trans/NB/Gender Non-Conforming/Genderqueer Characters
By Kyle Lukoff
Kyle Lukoff is an elementary school librarian and picture book author. His debut, A STORYTELLING OF RAVENS, will be released by Groundwood Press on May 1st 2018. AIDAN AND THE BABY, his picture book about a transgender boy, will be released by Lee & Low a year later. He served on the Stonewall Book Awards youth subcommittee from 2015-2017, and has presented about trans representation in books for youth on multiple platforms.
By Libba Bray
A feminist retelling of the Lord of the Flies, where one of the beauty queens stranded on a desert island is trans (oops, sorry, spoiler alert). What’s especially nice is that the trans girl does fine, and even ends up with a cute pirate boy at the end.
By April Daniels
It’s nice to read a superhero novel where the main character is an unapologetic trans girl. There are a few elements that aren’t my favorite (I’m personally annoyed by magical transitions, and there are some weird trans community in-jokes that might not make sense to many teen readers), but this is the kind of story that expands the boundaries of what trans literature has been allowed to do.
By Anna-Marie McLemore
If you like magical realism, poetic prose, and romance, then you’ll love this book. It’s a story of witchcraft and curses, mysterious origins and different entrances into trans identities. The lyrical storytelling style and complex imagery means that this story won’t appeal to everyone, but a just-right reader will fall in love with it.
Series by Rick Riordan
I know this is a middle-grade title, but much like Harry Potter, the appeal of Rick Riordan doesn’t have to stop at high school. In the second book readers meet Alex Fierro, one of the best depictions of a trans, genderfluid teenager in the genre, and over the course of this book and the next Magnus’s growing romantic interest in Alex is a slow burn but worth it. Alex’s gender identity is crucial to the plot, but doesn’t rehash any clichéd narratives about coming out or overcoming oppression; Alex’s gender fluidity saves the day.
By Meredith Russo
This novel doesn’t break any new grounds with plot: new girl in town, new girl is also trans, it’s not great when people find out but she gets a happy ending. However, this book isn’t only exceptional because the author is a trans woman and a beautiful writer (a major deal for #ownvoices storytelling). Russo carefully creates a world where women support and love each other, where parents can struggle and fail and come back with love, where trans girls can find happiness and joy with and without romance, and where the ending imagines multiple positive futures for trans girls and women.
Sex is a Funny Word
By Cory Silverberg, ill. Fiona Smythe
This is ostensibly a sex-ed book for kids age 7-11, but the radical reframing of trans bodies as unexceptional, and worthy of line-by-line inclusion, provides people of all ages with gender-neutral ways of discussing anatomy as well as identity. Also, the book’s emphasis on consent, respect, justice, and self-determination make it a must-read for just about anyone. Even if readers are familiar with body parts and what sex is, there’s so much to learn about how to think about these fundamental realities that are rooted in radical queer politics.
(Note: This book does not appear on Queer Books for Teens because it is nonfiction. It is super awesome, definitely read it.)