There’s no way to hide from how difficult it can be to be transgender. We are abused, assaulted, and murdered. We struggle to access life-giving healthcare. We are persecuted and torn down by the media and online. But we are so much more than how people hurt us. We have full, wonderful, meaningful lives. But it’s hard to live to our fullest without seeing ourselves portrayed positively. Collected here are trans books that celebrate trans lives, gender diversity, and queerness.
Dawn by Octavia E. Butler
The first in the Xenogenesis/Lilith’s Brood trilogy this book features aliens with three sexes/genders. Imaginary societies having a concept of gender outside of strict binaryism validates my own existence. Humanity has been saved from extinction by these aliens. Kept in the hold of a spaceship for hundreds of years, it’s now time to repopulate the post-apocalyptic earth.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
This queer trans book retelling of Peter Pan has been described as “lovely”, “hopeful”, “affirming”, and “super upbeat”. All characteristics frequently lacking from trans narratives! Peter Pan has left Neverland to grow up and resigned himself to life as Wendy Darling. But growing up has only made him realise how inescapable his identity as a man is.
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
Not always a gentle read, this queer classic does a wonderful job at showing intersections of oppression and is lovely and positive. This is the tale of being a young butch lesbian and masculine women in the pre-Stonewall drag bars of a blue-collar town. The themes of gender exploration are heart-stirringly resonant to anyone who’s suffered for being different.
F4 by Larissa Glasser
This is the horror novel about a trans woman fighting right-wing trolls the world needs. This story balances the bizarre plot with the turmoil of coming to terms with being transgender. It isn’t easy but we can still kick ass.
Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam
A stunning coming of age story about so much: immigration, family, queerness, Bangladesh. But it’s the depiction of one of the characters coming out as a trans guy that gripped me. Trans folk are vastly underrepresented in literature. This makes finding words that perfectly capture my experience rare and precious.
Don’t Feed the Trolls by Erika Kudish
Gaming whilst female is hazardous. One person’s solution following abuse is to pretend to be a man online. But now they’re not sure if they’re pretending anymore, if they’re really a woman at all. This book is about lies that feel truer than anything’s ever felt. Transition doesn’t mean giving in to misogyny. And there are more than two genders.
Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
This sci-fi classic is set on a planet of gender and sex-less aliens. Once a month hormones cause them to develop sexual characteristics and become fertile. But they might not become the same sex next month. A brief mention is made of a feminine-presenting person fathering children. As a trans-masculine person considering pregnancy, this made me feel seen.
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Unlike many trans stories, this feel-good series is definitely not a tragedy. Starring a PoC trans character, here is a world where superpowers are common. Internships with supervillains; queer crushes; superhero parents; this series has it all.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
This novel is not explicitly trans but it is nonetheless a powerful portrayal of queerness. A young Puerto-Rican lesbian comes out and moves across the country from the Bronx to Portland to find herself. Will she be able to figure out her problems over the summer? Or is she simply running away from problems too big to handle?
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Orlando holds a special place in my own heart as the first place I ever saw singular gender-neutral “they” pronouns in print. Following the several centuries of the life of a person whose physical sex changes at random. This is a fascinating portrayal of gender fluidity.
The Red Thread of Fortune by J.Y. Yang
A non-binary character by a non-binary author! This is not a fluffy read but none of the heavy stuff has to do with being trans. We have lives and difficulties outside of our transness. After the death of her daughter a fallen prophet abandons the life that once bound her. She finds herself on a quest, accompanied by dinosaurs.
Assigned Male by Sophie Labelle
This is an adorable webcomic about a group of 11-year old trans kids. Following their friendships, and gender journeys, the story is interspersed with advice and facts. Extremely relatable.
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters
A group of girls are at a summer camp where they find themselves on endless supernatural adventures. Some of the girls in this comic are gay, some queer, some trans and that is celebrated. A story of acceptance and friendship to the max!
The Backstagers by James Tynion IV and Rian Sygh
Another queer affirming/celebrating comic with trans characters is The Backstagers. The new kid at a private boy’s school joins the stage crew: the only ones who treat him as a friend. With these new friends, he discovers an entire magical world behind the stage curtain.
Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity edited by Morgan Mann Willis
Collected here are poems and essays about what it’s like to inhabit masculinity outside of white cisgendered manhood. The collection is passionate, uplifting, and a radical act of affirming self-love.
What are your favorite trans books? Find even more of our recommendations here.