This post originally ran May 24th, 2016.
When I first tell someone that I write about books by trans people, I often get the reply that they would just loooove to bring trans authors into their reading life but they just don’t like reading memoirs. This is when I eat my fist to stop from yelling at the poor person. I suppose it isn’t their fault that memoirs have been the primary way for trans people to be published by any of the big publishing houses and have therefore saturated the market of easily accessible books by trans authors, but I’m consistently frustrated by the assumption that the list of trans authors is limited to Janet Mock, Jennifer Finney Boyan, and Julia Serano.
If you are truly interested in bringing trans writers onto your reading list, a simple Google search for “trans writers” brings up a wide ocean of trans writers who are writing books that aren’t memoirs. (Not that I’m knocking on memoirs: it’s the perception that trans authors only write memoirs that I knock.)
Rather than sitting here gnashing my teeth and wailing about the over focus on trans memoirs, I’ve put together a brief list to help readers find trans authors in the genres that they prefer. I want to be utterly clear on the point that this list is not at all a definitive list of trans authors but should rather be treated as a brief overview to help represent the astounding variety of work being done by trans authors (It’s almost as if we’re a diverse and varied group of folks and not a single monolithic identity. Imagine that.). If there’s someone who you want people to know of, I hope you’ll leave a comment below with their name.
In creating this list I’ve tried to draw in a variety of authors of different levels of awareness in the public eye. The keen-eyed reader will notice that some authors appear in multiple genre categories. This is just my attempt to represent the diversity that can exist within a single author’s work. In order to keep the list short and readable I made the arbitrary choices to only include writers who have published stand alone texts and have excluded academic or similar nonfiction. For simplicity in the list I’ve linked the author’s name to their website and then included one of the books that fits into that particular genre.
Children’s, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction
Personal and Literary Essays
Jamie Berrout – Incomplete Short Stories and Essays Berrout’s essays dig deep into contemporary writing by trans authors and look to the future.
Jamie Berrout – Incomplete Short Stories and Essays The fiction in this collection take on a range of themes and forms that explores oppression, literature, and life as a trans woman of color.
Jamie Berrout – Otros Valles A novel drawing from literary fiction, memoir, and science fiction to tell the story of a non-binary trans Latina lesbian looking for community and family in the Deep South.
Vivek Shraya – She of the Mountains With roots in Hindu mythology Shraya’s illustrated novel explores the relationship of body and self and how we experience cultural expectations of gender and sexuality.
Sybil Lamb – I’ve Got a Time Bomb A traumatic head injury complicates Sybil’s surreal journey through cities of trans women, sex, and drugs. Honestly I’m not even sure how to begin describing this book.
Imogen Binnie – Nevada A modern on-the-road story about Maria Griffiths, your typical fuck-up trans girl in Brooklyn who steals her girlfriend’s car to drive across America with a whole bunch of drugs.
Speculative, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Fiction
Dane Figueroa Edidi – Brew Arjana’s life is Baltimore is complicated enough already with high school, being trans, and witchcraft, but things get even stranger as her powerful mother is threatened by dark forces.
Jan Morris – The World: Life and Travel 1950-2000 Half a century of Jan Morris’ celebrated and beloved non-fiction is now collected into one volume that travels from the handover of Hong Kong to the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel.
Jamie Berrout – Desire and the Scent of Guava Berrout’s collection looks back at her experiences with love and intimacy as a trans woman of color entering into a relationship.