It has certainly been A Week for the trans, nonbinary and gender diverse communities. There’s been a lot of hate and vile directed at these communities, some thanks to authors we had looked up to and who provided a lot of comfort to us. But in the wake of that hate, just remember you are so fucking valid. So let’s get rid of all that hatred from awful authors and instead celebrate some of the brilliant trans, nonbinary and gender diverse books and authors out here!
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie McLemore is an absolute legend in YA which makes it so terrible that I’ve only read one of their books, their newest release, Dark and Deepest Red. This is a retelling of both the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale The Red Shoes and a documented dancing plague from Strasbourg is the 1500s. The book is told in alternating POVs from the past and present, and follows four teens as they encounter prejudice and racism, with McLemore’s goregous, poetic writing style to pull you through.
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Fantasy retelling of Hamlet with a trans lead character? Hell fucking yes. Especailly when it comes with incredible gods. This book is told in two POVs, Eolo, a warrier helping Prince Mawat reclaim his city, and a God, The Strength and Patience of the Hill, who is, essentially, a rock. Yes you read that correctly. Both POVs are told from this God’s perspective, with Eolo’s POV told in second person POV. I loved the POV of The Strength and Patience of the Hill, who tells you of the worlds origin and how Eolo’s present came to be. It’s a wonderfully interesting book full of magic and gods and wars.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Pet is a quick and brilliant read about a young trans girl of colour hunting for monsters. Jam has grown up in Lucille, a town which claims there are no monsters anymore. Jam has lived her whole life believing this. So when Pet, a creature from one of her mother’s paintings, comes to life and climbs out of his frame, claiming to be on the hunt for a monster, Jam isn’t sure she believes him. Especially when he tells her the monster in in her best friend Redemption’s house. This is a story of the monsters who hide in plain sight, of what to do when adults don’t believe you. It is so poignant and relevant and I honestly had chills reading this book, the language and writing style is just beautiful, every sentence is full of meaning and impact. Don’t miss this one!
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
I Wish You All the Best is one of my favourite books, it is a beautiful, vulnerable debut from Deaver who has become one of my Must Read authors after this book. I Wish You All the Best is about Ben, a nonbinary teen who comes out to their parents and is kicked out of home. They go to live with their sister, who enrols them in the local school where they meet Nathan, who notices Ben when they don’t want to be seen and are struggling most. It is both a love story and a story of hope, one that shows there is light and hope to be found even at life’s darkest.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie
A bit more literary now to give a bit of variety, this own voices trans story not only has a beautiful cover but a beautiful story. Nevada is about trans woman Maria, a punky woman trying to stay true to her punk values whilst working in soul destroying retail. When she gets fired and her girlfriend lies to her, she embarks on a road trip and meets James, a man who reminds her very much of herself in her early 20s. It’s a book filled with personal discussions of gender and sexuality and I really think it should have way more ratings on Goodreads for a book that’s been out since 2013! So go read it!
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Bell
Sherlock Holmes reimagining with a pansexual female Holmes and trans Watson? Hell fucking yes. Set in a weird and wonderful fantasy world, Captain John Wyndham takes up lodging at 221b Martyrs Walk, where he lives with Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a difficult sorceress with a dark reputation. Miss Haas is hired to solve a blackmail case against an ex-lover, and Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into the mystery. He embarks on an investigation that will have him encounter all manner of creatures, including vampires, pirates (I actually wrote that down as vampirates first, and WOULDN’T THAT BE AMAZING?!), mad gods and sharks, in a reality bending universe of mayhem.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it was everything I hoped it would be. It also has quite possibly my favourite cover of the year (or at least one of the top few!) Felix Ever After is about a queer, Black, trans teen (Felix) who catfishes his transphobic bully for revenge and somehow ends up in a quasi-love triangle. But he goes on a journey of discovery to redefine how he feels about himself and his identity. A hugely important and personal story, I think Felix Ever After is going to be one of my favourite books of the year.
The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean
I don’t read a huge amount of middle grade, but this is one I’m going to make an exception for. I think it’s going to be one of those books that just absolutely breaks you apart. Rowan knows who he is and what he likes – but his schoolmates say they don’t want to hang out with him anymore because he’s not the right kind of girl, or the right kind of boy. His mum ignores him, and dad abuses him in the worst possible ways. He finds a way to share his secrets by writing them on paper and tying them to a balloon, watching them float away. But then he befriends a classmate who understand him and loves him for who he is. It’s a book about trauma, survival and the bravery it takes to stand up for yourself.
Dreadnought by April Daniels
I think it’s time to talk about trans superheros!!! In Dreadnought, Danny has been trying to hide the fact she’s transgender. But then the city’s most powerful superhero, Dreadnought, dies in front of her and transfers his powers to her. And also changes her body to what she’s always thought it should be. But she’s faced with awful transphobia from her father trying to “cure” her, her best friend who thinks he’s now entitled to date her, and on top of all that, she’s pulled into the hunt for the Dreadnought’s murderer before they destroy the city. This is the first in a duology full of superheros, supertech and supervillains!
Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve
Genderqueer zombies? Another hell yes from me! When Z wakes up after a car crash that killed their family, they have to adjust to life as a zombie. A witch whilst alive, now they can barely access magic and are…decaying. They have to figure out a way to fix the magical seal holding their body together, with the help of secret werewolf classmate Aysel. When a person is killed in a werewolf attack, Salem becomes even more hostile to magical beings and Aysel and Z have to work hard to survive in a town that doesn’t want them. Full of body horror and sarcasm and friendship!
The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
And let’s finish with another of most anticipated books of the year (and probably second favourite cover of 2020 behind Felix Ever After). The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea follows pirate Flora, who takes the identity Florian to earn the respect and protection of the crew. But then they fall in love with a noble the pirates have kidnapped to sell into slavery. This book promises to me one of my favourite fantasies of the year: there’s a genderfluid pirate, a witch, critique on colonialism, and mermaids!
I hope you found some books to add to your TBRs on this list! What’s your favourite book with trans or nonbinary rep? Let me know in the comments.