Happy Trans Day of Visibility to all other trans and/or non-binary people!
It’s my first time celebrating this day since I’ve realized I’m non-binary myself, and I wanted to pay attention to this by recommending a lot of books by and/or about trans & non-binary people.
I’ll be giving you 20 recommendations, divided in 4 parts: books I’ve read and loved, books I own but haven’t read yet (both physical and digital), books I have on my wishlist, and book releases I’m looking forward to.
I tried to limit myself to one book per author, so you get as many different recs as possible. But I do encourage you to look up more books by these authors, because a lot of them have written multiple amazing books!
You can find 10 more recommendations in this post I wrote during last Pride month!
READ & LOVED
Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu – Mooncakes
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
This was one of my favourite graphic novels of 2019, and I recently reread it and loved it just as much. And it features a non-binary werewolf!
Laura Kate Dale – Uncomfortable Labels: My Life As a Gay Autistic Trans Woman
“So while the assumption when I was born was that I was or would grow up to be a neurotypical heterosexual boy, that whole idea didn’t really pan out long term.”
In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing, managing socially demanding situations and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect.
Charting the ups and downs of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum with searing honesty and humour, this is an empowering, life-affirming read for anyone who’s felt they don’t fit in.
We’re on the brink of Autism Acceptance Month, and I love how this book intersects. I found it to be very relatable, because even though I’m not a trans woman, I am an autistic genderqueer person, so I could relate to the autism stuff a lot and also to the stuff about not being your assigned gender. It’s a book I’ll probably be recommending during April as well!
Austin Chant – Coffee Boy
After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.
Austin Chant’s are usually recommended in any post about trans books, but that’s for good reason: they’re really great reads! I’m actually hoping to reread this one very soon!
Chelsea M. Cameron – Christmas Inn Maine
All Colden Hayes wanted was to spend Christmas by herself in a cottage by the sea where the cheer of the holiday season couldn’t reach her. Everything was going according to plan until the cottage she rented turned out not to exist and she ends up snowed in at a charming inn that happens to be owned by the family of her most-hated coworker, Laura Sterling. Talk about bad luck.
Colden ends up saying yes to Laura’s mother when she insists on giving her a room. It’s only for a night, but she somehow finds herself agreeing to spend Christmas with the Sterlings as well. She blamed the festive atmosphere that she couldn’t seem to escape. Maybe there’s something in the mistletoe?
Against her will, Colden finds herself being sucked into the comfort and joy of the season, even though she can’t seem to escape Laura, who is literally everywhere Colden is, like she’s doing it on purpose. Things get even worse when they’re forced to share a bed when there’s a fire at a local farm and the inn offers all the available rooms to the family.
Colden finally realizes there’s a thin line between annoyance and attraction, and she and Laura definitely crossed it. She’s also pretty sure that Laura’s mother is shipping them hard and so is the rest of her family, right down to her great-grandmother whose main companion is a two-hundred-pound pig named Minnie.
Will the magic of the holiday season melt Colden’s heart? Or will she go back to Boston alone, with only the memories to keep her warm?
Sure, this is a Christmas themed book, but what would be cosier to read in the middle of a pandemic? It might actually make you feel better to bring some Christmas spirit into your life! This book has a female/non-binary romance between a woman and a demigirl, and I thought it was so cosy.
Xan West – Their Troublesome Crush
In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.
Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.
I just know I’ll be recommending this book a lot more, because it felt like a warm hug, and not only did it have trans rep, it also had autism rep. And it’ll be Autism Acceptance Month in April, so you can definitely expect me to talk about that very soon as well!
ON MY TBR
Lisa Bunker – Zenobia July
The critically acclaimed author of Felix Yz crafts a bold, heartfelt story about a trans girl solving a cyber mystery and coming into her own.
Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she’s in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she’s coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she’s able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.
When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school’s website, Zenobia knows she’s the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.
I recently got this middlegrade about a trans girl that I’m very excited to read. There’s just something so special to me about LGBTQ+ middlegrade.
Akwaeke Emezi – Pet
Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?
There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.
I’ve seen so much hype surrounding this book, and I’ve even already given away two copies because that’s how highly I’m anticipating it, but I still have yet to read it. This actually happens to me a lot, but I have high hopes for when I eventually do pick it up!
Hal Schrieve – Out of Salem
When genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth wakes from death after a car crash that killed their parents and sisters, they have to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie. Always a talented witch, Z can now barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered in an apparent werewolf attack, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to monsters, and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.
I picked up this book because it has a genderqueer protagonist, and there aren’t a lot of those. It sounds so weird and so fun!
Anna-Marie McLemore – Dark and Deepest Red
Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.
I’ve loved Anna-Marie McLemore’s previous books, and I really can’t wait to read their newest one. I’m waiting to be in the mood for it, though, so I can thoroughly appreciate it. It sounds like it will be another incredible read!
April Daniels – Dreadnought
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.
Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Superheroes? Sign me up please! I was recently thinking, upon reading The Extraordinaries, about how much I love superhero novels and how few I’ve actually read. So I’m sure I’ll read this book very soon!
ON MY WISHLIST
Maia Kobabe – Gender Queer
In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
I’ve been wanting to read this graphic memoir since it came out, because the author talks about eir experience with being asexual as well as being genderqueer, and I have high hopes for it being very relatable for me.
Chana Porter – The Seep
A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.
Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.
Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.
Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.
This is a book I’ve only learned about recently, but I thought it sounded fascinating! The main character is a trans woman, and it sounds like a great read if you like speculative fiction.
Pat Schmatz – Lizard Radio
Fifteen-year-old Kivali has never fit in. As a girl in boys’ clothes, she is accepted by neither tribe, bullied by both. What are you? they ask. Abandoned as a baby wrapped in a T-shirt with an image of a lizard on the front, Kivali found a home with nonconformist artist Sheila. Is it true what Sheila says, that Kivali was left by a mysterious race of saurians and that she’ll one day save the world? Kivali doesn’t think so. But if it is true, why has Sheila sent her off to CropCamp, with its schedules and regs and what feels like indoctrination into a gov-controlled society Kivali isn’t sure has good intentions?
But life at CropCamp isn’t all bad. Kivali loves being outdoors and working in the fields. And for the first time, she has real friends: sweet, innocent Rasta; loyal Emmett; fierce, quiet Nona. And then there’s Sully. The feelings that explode inside Kivali whenever Sully is near—whenever they touch—are unlike anything she’s experienced, exhilarating and terrifying. But does Sully feel the same way?
Between mysterious disappearances, tough questions from camp director Ms. Mischetti, and weekly doses of kickshaw—the strange, druglike morsel that Kivali fears but has come to crave—things get more and more complicated. But Kivali has an escape: her unique ability to channel and explore the power of her animal self. She has Lizard Radio.
Will it be enough to save her?
I once saw this recommended as a book with a non-binary protagonist. Other than that, I don’t know a lot about it, but it does sound like an interesting read.
Jacob Tobia – Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story
A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.
From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”
Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.
From Jacob’s Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissy guarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s people’s and your own–the same way again.
I don’t know a lot about this book either, but I saw it recommended recently and it really spoke to me right away. I’m hoping to get a copy soon, because I have been wanting to read more non-fiction/memoirs, and this just sounds perfect.
Linsey Miller – Mask of Shadows
I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
I recently picked up Belle Révolte, and unfortunately ended up DNF-ing it. But I do want to give this author a second chance, because a lot of people have recommended this book to me, and it has a non-binary main character!
Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
2020 is going to be SUCH a great year for trans/non-binary books, so I’m especially excited to talk about my anticipated releases.
The first is Cemetery Boys, which has already gotten a lot of hype and just sounds SO good!
Taylor B. Barton – The Ninth Life
What if your deepest wish came with dark consequences?
At the end of Caesar’s feline life, he makes a deal with the goddess Zosma to rejoin Ophelia, the girl he loves, for his ninth and final life.
However, waking in the body of seventeen-year-old Austin Price isn’t what he anticipates. Neither is Austin’s handsome roommate, Cooper—a boy who moves him in unexpected ways. And coming face-to-face with a messy past Austin can’t remember living makes being human even harder than he thought.
The chaos and wonder of his ninth life urges Austin to get to know Ophelia on human terms, and sends him stumbling into complicated friendships that might mean more to him than he ever imagined. But his wish has a price, and even as Austin is pulled in two impossible directions, the very heart beating in his chest is on a countdown of its own—a countdown he has no control over.
I recently read Fortitude Smashed by Taylor B. Barton (as Taylor Brooke), which was a five star read for me and made me order the sequel right away. I’m very excited to read more of their books, and this one is set to come out this year!
Kacen Callender – Felix Ever After
From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
Felix Ever After has SUCH a beautiful cover, and it’s without a doubt one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
A.J. Sass – Ana on the Edge
Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.
Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.
I already said how I think LGBTQ+ middlegrade is something so special, and I believe this is the first one with a non-binary main character. At least, it is the first one that I know of! This book doesn’t come out until October so it’s still a bit of a wait, but I think it will be very worth it!
Tobly McSmith – Stay Gold
Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.
Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.
Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.
Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?
Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.
I already can’t with the The Outsiders references in the title and main character’s name. I’m honestly so hyped to read this book!
What are your favourite books by trans/non-binary authors and/or about trans/non-binary people?
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