Culturally Relevant

12 Books By Up-And-Coming Trans & Nonbinary Authors

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Let’s face it: as book-lovers, most of us just don’t have the money to buy allllll the books we want to read. But we can still support our favorite authors by requesting their books at our local libraries, reviewing books we loved on Amazon and Goodreads, and spreading the word to our communities — both in person and online. With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of 12 books by up-and-coming trans and nonbinary authors who can use your support right now.

Book challenges and bans have long been a tool to silence underrepresented communities, but with the American Library Association (ALA) reporting an “unprecedented” number of censorship efforts in 2021, pushing back against literary censorship may be one of the easiest and most important ways we can fight for continued LGBTQIA+ representation. Since 2001, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has published yearly lists of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books. In the last 21 years, LGBTQIA+ books have topped the list 11 times, and 28 books have appeared on those lists specifically because they contained LGBTQIA+ content. They are:

Note: Those marked with an asterisk (*) appeared for the first time in 2021.

With trans rights under attack in the U.S. — and marriage equality edging closer to the chopping block — we owe it to ourselves as readers to do the best we can by queer and trans people of all ages. Now, more than ever, it’s time to throw our money and muscle behind queer and trans authors — particularly those who are less well known, and therefore have less career security. Here are 12 books by up-and-coming trans and nonbinary authors to support today:

Books By Up-And-Coming Trans Authors

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon book cover

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

When an accidental release of his magic forces Wyatt — a trans man fighting for witch’s rights in fae-dominated Asalin — to go back to the human realm, his fiancé, a fae prince named Emyr, follows after him. Emyr and Wyatt’s marriage was supposed to elevate witches’ position among the fae, and now Emyr needs to follow through…or risk losing the throne forever.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons book cover

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

A timely work of contemporary YA fiction, Isaac Fitzsimons’ The Passing Playbook centers on Spencer, a 15-year-old trans boy who believes he’s finally found a safe space when he transfers to a new school to escape his bullies. But when a new law bans him from playing soccer with the other boys, Isaac — who’s still passing as cis — must decide whether fighting for his right to play sports is worth risking the backlash of coming out.

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar book cover

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

Sixty years ago, a Syrian American artist named Laila Z disappeared, leaving behind a rich career in bird-painting. Before she went missing, she encountered a rare bird — the same bird an ornithologist would see before her death, more than half a century later. Now, the ornithologist’s son, a trans graffiti artist looking for a new name, has come into possession of Laila Z’s journal, and he’s about to uncover a deep connection between the painter and his late mother.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe book cover

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Published by Oni Press in 2019, Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir, Gender Queer, traces eir path to self-discovery, both as a nonbinary person and as an asexual person. With its frank discussions of fandom, sexual health, coming out, and dealing with dysphoria, what began as a way for Kobabe to explain eir gender and sexuality to eir relatives has become a touchstone work of LGBTQIA+ literature.

Café con Lychee by Emery Lee book cover

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

On the surface, Theo and Gabi don’t seem to have much in common. The son of café owners, openly gay Theo can’t wait to go far, far away to college. Meanwhile, closeted Gabi just wants to get his diploma and finally take over his parents’ bakery. Their parents have always been business rivals, but when the opening of a new fusion café negatively impacts both businesses, the two high schoolers find themselves working together to keep their families from closing up shop, in Café Con Lychee.

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu book cover

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

As a person with extrasensory abilities living in the city of Ora, Anima lives aer life confined with other people like aer. Together, they form the Gleaming: a surveillance system that protects the people of Ora from the dangers of outside influences. Anima is proud of the work ae does. But when someone brings mysterious items from around the world into Ora — items that each have their own story to tell — ae begins to question whether the Gleaming is what’s best for the city’s citizens.

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist book cover

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

When her father loses his job, Lena, a former med student, takes the first job she can get: working as a doctor’s assistant in the household of a fabulously wealthy Boston family. There, she learns to care for Jonathan, the chronically ill heir to the Verdeau fortune, and finds herself irresistibly drawn to his sister. But there’s more to the Verdeaus than meets the eye, and when Lena stumbles upon the patriarch’s secret — a secret that involves her own family — she blazes her way toward revenge.

The Companion by EE Ottoman book cover

The Companion by EE Ottoman

EE Ottoman’s historical novella centers on Madeline, a trans woman living in postwar New York, whose writing career has unfortunately failed to launch. When she learns that Victor — a best-selling author, who also happens to be trans — is looking for a companion to live with him upstate, she seizes the chance to get out of the city. There, Madeline finds herself falling in love, both with Victor and with his ex-lover and neighbor, a trans woman named Audrey.

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante book cover

Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante

After her friend dies, the unnamed narrator — a queer woman who carried an unrequited torch for her — finds solace in an internet community devoted to the late Vivian’s favorite TV show, Little Blue, in this experimental novel. As she and the Little Blue fans catalog the show’s quirks alongside their own headcanons, the narrator works through her grief over the loss of her friend and a love that could not be.

The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes book cover

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

Enrolling in a new school, a predominantly white Catholic institution, offers a fresh start for 17-year-old Yami, who was outed and bullied by a former friend at her old school. She’s determined to stay in the closet until the year is through, but that’s going to be hard to do with someone like Bo — pretty, perfect, and openly queer — in close proximity.

Between Perfect and Real by Rae Stoeve book cover

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

Dean’s already figured out that he’s trans when he’s cast as Romeo in the school play, but he hasn’t come out yet. Everyone, even his own girlfriend, thinks he’s a lesbian. But as he takes on the romantic lead role, Dean begins to realize that he can’t wait until college to come out. He wants his classmates to see him for the young man he is, and he wants them to know now. But what if no one accepts him for the rest of his high school career?

An Unexpected Kind of Love by Hayden Stone book cover

An Unexpected Kind of Love by Hayden Stone

An introverted, strait-laced bookstore owner finds his life thrown into an uproar when he agrees to let a film crew use his business as a filming location — a decision that thrusts him directly into a charming actor’s orbit. After he and Blake share a passionate encounter in a trailer, Aubrey has a whole new set of things to worry about. Can he stand to be a celebrity’s boyfriend? Or, perhaps more importantly, can he stand to not be?

Want to check out more books by LGBTQIA+ authors? Check out this list of romance novels by trans and nonbinary authors, and look here for SFF reads from trans and nonbinary folks.