Some amazing folks, led by author Sim Kern, are launching a Trans Rights Readathon starting today, to raise money for trans organizations. I meant to tweet out a list of books by trans/non-binary authors that I recommend, but the past couple weeks have been extra challenging due to a family crisis and a bunch of other stuff. (Don't worry, it's all fine.) Want to know more about the Trans Rights Readathon? See here.
Before I get into it, a couple pieces of housekeeping. First, I'm not going to provide links to buy each of these books. Sorry. In general, you can find all these at Indiebound, Bookshop.org or your local bookstore.
Also, I apologize in advance if I leave your favorite book, or your book. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I'm bound to leave out some books that I love — as well as books that I would love, if I could get around to reading them. I feel like this list could be twice as long.
So let's get into it!
Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein. Bornstein has written many wonderful books about gender and other topics, but this anti-suicide manual for teens (and everyone) is the one that really changed my life. In a non-judgmental fashion, she offers strategies and ideas for keeping going when life is utter shit.
Sexed Up by Julia Serano. Okay, it's a trend. Serano has also written many wonderful books about trans topics, and an incredible novel. But this book about sexualization and the double standard is mind-blowingly good, and has changed how I think about sexuality. It's essential reading.
Black Trans Feminism by Marquis Bey. I have to admit I haven't finished reading this one yet, but the parts I've read have been fantastic. Bey creates a whole new way of looking at transness and feminism through the lens of Black liberation.
The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Susan Stryker and Stephen Wittle. This collection of 50 previously published essays and articles sheds so much light on how to talk about trans people. There are so many wonderful voices in here.
Burn the Page by Danica Roem. This memoir by the first trans woman to be elected to a state legislature is surprisingly hilarious and irreverent, spending as much time on Roem's career as a heavy metal musician as on her political exploits. But her observations on politics are pure gold.
This is going to be a tough category to whittle down, so I apologize in advance for leaving out some great works!
World Running Down by Al Hess. I just read this incredible book about a trans guy forming a bond with an android in the wilderness, and I'm still buzzing with excitement.
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon. One of my fav books of the past few years, this story of parenting and escaping from an oppressive commune is endlessly surprising and innovative.
Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki. A beautifully weird fusion of science fiction and fantasy that follows a teenage trans girl runaway who finds a home with a violin teacher who's sold her soul. It's utterly gorgeous and hard to describe!
The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg. An island nation is facing total disaster because its submerged captive star is out of control, and it's up to a newly-promoted starkeeper and a shy, reclusive poet to figure out how to save everyone.
Unquenchable Fire by Rachel Pollack. Really, you should read everything by Pollack, one of the first trans women to break into speculative fiction — but this award-winning novel of a bureacracy that tracks miracles is truly strange and wondrous. Also, get the omnibus of her Doom Patrol issues!
The Trans Space Octopus Congregation by Bogi Takacs. These stories of shapeshifters and alien bodies are jarring and disconcerting and utterly queer.
Homesick by Nino Cipri. This book has one of the best depictions of a genderfluid character I've ever seen, plus some truly inventive takes on superheroes, and an all-too-real portrayal of grad school. Utterly brilliant.
Wrath Goddess Sing! by Maya Deane. This retelling of the Iliad features a trans Achilles, along with a few other trans characters, and manages to deal with transmedicalism and passing privilege in a truly fascinating way.
The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia. Another of my favorite books of the past few years, this story about blood magic, medicine and refugees is full of beautifully observed details.
Unity by Elly Bangs. This cyberpunk thriller involves a woman who used to be part of a hive mind but has long since been separated, and dreads being reunited with the whole. One of the most interesting (and queer) takes on consciousness I've seen in ages.
Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman. A trans vampire archivist starts processing the papers of the creator of a cult TV show, only to fall in love with the creator's widow. This is the most inventive takes on vampirism — and transness! — I've seen in forever.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. One of the most unapologetically queer fantasy books I've read in ages, this story of a monk and a eunuch who both chase impossible destinies totally sucked me in.
The Story of the Hundred Promises by Neil Cochrane. A trans sailor returns home to his dying father, only to end up on a quest for the genderqueer magician who helped him transition. This book is utterly gorgeous.
Dreadnought by April Daniels. A trans teenager inherits the powers of the world's greatest superhero, and gets her ideal body in the bargain — but transphobia is a power that nobody can fully defeat.
Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min. A stunning novel about music, fame, growing up, and joining a marching band.
The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon. Wyatt was betrothed to marry the fairy Prince Emyr long ago, before Wyatt transitioned. Now Emyr shows up, insisting they must marry at once — and Wyatt is forced to return to the magical world he left behind. Wyatt is an endlessly entertaining and vexing character.
The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas. Teo is a Jade, a lesser semidios, but he's still forced to compete in the Sunbearer Trials to choose the new chosen one — and the new ritual sacrifice. This book has one of the coolest moments of trans self-actualization I've seen in ages, and it's also super fun.
I was going to do literary fiction and more memoirs, but I kind of ran out of space/time, sorry...
Want more trans book recs? I posted a video a while back.
I also have some things you could read for the Trans Rights Readathon!
In particular, my young adult novel Victories Greater Than Death is currently just $2.99 in all of the ebook formats. It's a space opera about a teenage girl who's secretly the clone of the galaxy's greatest hero, and the time has come for her to return to the stars and reclaim her legacy. There is a major transfem character who helps save the galaxy (and she becomes a protagonist in the second book of the trilogy), plus non-binary, genderfluid and other queer characters. The device that lets you understand any language also makes it so you always use everyone's correct pronoun, no matter what!
If you like Victories Greater Than Death, the third book in the trilogy, Promises Stronger Than Darkness, comes out April 11.
Also, my short story collection Even Greater Mistakes contains a lot of stories featuring trans and queer characters, including my award-winning trans dystopia story "Don't Press Charges and I Won't Sue."
Finally, I created a trans superhero named Escapade for Marvel Comics last summer, with the help of artists Ted Brandt and Ro Stein, and editor Sarah Brunstad and assistant editor Anita Okoye. Escapade appeared in Marvel Voices: Pride (2022) #1, and then I got to write her in New Mutants #31-33 — which I believe are coming out in trade paperback collection tomorrow! (And issues 31 and 32 are also available on Marvel Unlimited now.)
Also, I'm now writing a miniseries featuring Escapade called New Mutants: Lethal Legion, and the first issue just came out recently. You can still find it comic book stores and online, and if your local shop doesn't have issue one, they can still order it for you. Escapade talks Cerebella and Scout into going on a heist, with consequences that might be... bad? I guess we'll find out in issue two!