Must-Read Literature by Transgender and Non-Binary Authors
March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). When I think of this holiday, the word “celebration” comes to mind. Often, life as a transgender person is reduced by media depictions to overcoming challenges and suffering. And while trans and non-binary people do face significant challenges and discrimination, TDOV is to me a reminder to recognize and appreciate the fulfilling lives and contributions transgender people and communities have found despite insistence by others that such things are impossible to find.
Read on to find 22 must-read works of literature by transgender and non-binary authors. I’ve organized the list by age group as well as fiction and nonfiction to help readers best find what they are looking for.
Consider this list a starting point rather than a comprehensive list of notable work by trans and non-binary authors. For more recommendations, check out Book Riot’s LGBTQ archives. There you’ll find curated lists on a variety of queer themes, including The Best LGBTQ Books of 2022.
Once you’ve found new books to find at your local library or bookstore, read this essay on the growth of transgender representation in literature. In it, the author reflects on their experience reading Little Fish by Casey Plett and how it resonated with them as a writer.
YA Fiction by Transgender and Non-Binary Authors
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Ever since Miel magically appeared out of a water tower as a child, she and Sam have been inseparable best friends. Now teenagers, they realize that they have fallen in love.
But both are in danger. Miel can grow roses from her wrists, and the Bonner sisters — who many in their town believe to be witches — want to take her flowers for themselves. And Sam, who is transgender, risks being outed if he tries to protect her.
Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
When teen witch Nova Huang reconnects with her childhood best friend Tam Lang, she discovers that they are a werewolf — and they’re in trouble. A dark magic is targeting the nearby forest, and Nova may be the only person who can protect Tam and their New England town.
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor
Autistic non-binary teen Sam and their dad Junius move to small-town Oregon after they are the target of a hate crime. Amidst making new friends, Sam soon learns about a decades-old unsolved murder that happened in their home and is compelled to solve it.
Being Emily by Rachel Gold
Emily, a trans teen in Minnesota, has grown up with no supports and the insistence from her therapist, family, and girlfriend that she should ignore her gender dysphoria. But when she meets a girl named Natalie and gets a new therapist, Emily finds confidence in who she is and was meant to be.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love is what one might call a hopeless romantic. Although he’s never been in love, he hopes to find someone who could love him for who he is: a Black transgender person.
When an anonymous person at his school begins sending him transphobic messages and leaking pictures of him before he transitioned, Felix seeks revenge. Along the way, he finds a greater sense of self-acceptance.
YA Nonfiction by Transgender and Non-Binary Authors
Continuum by Chella Man
In his debut memoir, artist Chella Man examines the intersection of his identities as a Deaf, genderqueer, biracial Jewish person. He reflects on the importance of being able to live authentically without pressure to hide any part of who he is.
Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words, Edited by Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry
In this anthology of visual art, poetry, and personal essays, transgender teens share their own thoughts and experiences. Included are epiphanies about who they are, how they feel about the world they live in, and what supports and actions from others make them feel accepted.
Adult Fiction by Transgender and Non-Binary Authors
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
An unnamed transgender Syrian-American man navigates following his artistic dreams while caring for his ill grandmother Teta. When he finds the journal of a missing artist named Laila, who was once a tenant in his apartment complex, he discovers that she once painted the same rare bird that his late ornithologist mother once fought to save.
As he searches for a copy of Laila’s painting, he unravels secrets about his mother’s past and discovers a name for himself.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Shizuka Satomi is the Queen of Hell. Damned for a Faustian deal she made in life, she must convince seven musicians to sell their souls to earn her freedom.
But her seventh student, a transgender runaway named Katrina Nguyen, and the bond she makes with starship captain and donut shop owner Lan Tran make Shizuka question everything she’s been working to accomplish. What good is life if you can’t spend it with those you care about?
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
Despite the differences in their musical careers — with one on the rise and the other losing relevance — Neela Devaki and Rukmini become close friends. Until a single tweet calls the futures of their friendship and careers into question with the entire internet watching.
Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly
Set in New York City during the early 2000s, this novel follows genderqueer bookbinder Dawn Levit. After discovering a love letter in a lesbian pulp novel, Dawn sets out to find the author and return it to them. Amidst this search, Dawn also seeks a better understanding of her gender identity and the ways expectations from her job and her partner stifle it.
Little Fish by Casey Plett
After her grandmother passes away, Wendy Reimer is shocked to discover that her grandfather may have considered himself transgender, if he’d had the words and opportunities to explore the disconnect he felt with his assigned gender in rural Canada. The more she learns about her grandfather, the more she contemplates her own experiences as a transgender woman.
Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
Grieving the loss of her cousin, Mei moves into his empty home in small-town Canada. Here, she can’t help but reflect on the past — both her cousin’s and her own — as well as the family secrets she uncovers after moving back.
World Running Down by Al Hess
In post-apocalyptic Utah, transgender salvager Valentine takes dangerous missions to earn enough money to gain citizenship in Salt Lake City. When he meets Osric, an AI steward trapped in an android body, he accepts a gig with a reward large enough to change his life — if he survives, and if the person behind the gig is telling the truth.
By Way of Sorrow (Erin McCabe #1) by Robyn Gigl
In the first installment of this legal thriller series written by a real-life lawyer, attorney Erin McCabe defends Sharise Barnes — a young trans woman accused of murdering the son of a New Jersey senator. McCabe, who is also a transgender woman, soon finds herself in the midst of a political firestorm that threatens her and her client’s safety.
Adult Nonfiction by Transgender and Non-Binary Authors
Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton
Historian C. Riley Snorton confronts the erasure of Black transgender people from queer U.S. history, as well as the intersection between anti-Black and anti-transgender legislation. In examining the lives of Black transgender people through historical records from the 19th century to the present, Snorton hopes for a future where Black trans people can live in safety.
Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye
In a series of comics, artist Julia Kaye records the first months after she begins taking hormone replacement therapy — both the joyful and challenging moments. As she reflects on her gender transition, she comes to a better sense of self-acceptance and appreciation for who she has become.
Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi
In their epistolary memoir, Nigerian author Awaeke Emezi writes a series of letters on spirituality, creativity, and gender identity. Each chapter is addressed to a different person, including friends, family, colleagues, romantic partners, and inspirations.
Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen
GLAAD award-winning journalist Samantha Allen embarks on a road trip across red states to interview the queer people who live there. Along the way, she reflects on her experiences growing up transgender in Utah and finds hope in the chosen family LGBTQ communities create in the places they call home.
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
Actor and producer Jacob Tobia reflects on their early life as a closeted teen in North Carolina where they were often labeled as “sissy” by others and the moments that offered them clarity and confidence in their genderqueer identity.
Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery
Blending memoir and pop culture commentary, author and advice columnist Daniel M. Lavery’s essay collection snarkily reflects on a variety of topics that interest him, from transgender identity to The Golden Girls.
Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan
What are life’s milestones if not shaped by those we have loved? In this memoir, trans activist and New York Times columnist Jennifer Finney Boylan reflects on key moments in her life and how the dogs she’s adopted both defined those moments and helped her better understand how to love others and herself.
Interested in more book recommendations? Check out these YA books written by trans and non-binary authors, including The (Un)popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez.