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10 Books by Transgender Authors: from Fiction to Poetry to Memoir and Romance

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Books by transgender authors are important now more than ever. With hundreds of anti-transgender laws being proposed around the country and around the world, transgender people need to know that they aren’t alone and that their stories matter.

For people questioning their gender identity, it’s vital to have a place to look for support. Grappling with gender dysphoria can be scary and confusing. Choosing what to do next can be lonely and intimidating. But through reading coming-out stories, real-life experiences with transitioning, and tales with happy endings, they can see that others have been in their position before and have come out the other side.

Here are a few books written by transgender authors. From memoirs to poetry and fiction, trans authors span across all genres, so you’ll always find something you’ll enjoy.

Memoir

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe

gender QueerThis book began as a way for the author, Maia Kobabe (e/em/eir), to explain to eir family what it meant to em to be non-binary and asexual. Instead, it became a personal story as well as a useful guide on gender identity. Kobabe discusses eir journey of self-identity, including how she felt confused with childhood crushes, violated during annual pap smears, and the stress of coming out to family.

“I got to the point where I thought ‘I have to sit down and write about this because I don’t feel like I am getting across verbally what I’m really trying to say.'” Kobabe said in an interview with Time magazine.

Mia Kobabe is a cartoonist and writer. Eir work mostly focuses on themes of identity, sexuality, anti-fascism, homesickness, and fairy tales. In 2023, e signed a deal with Scholastic to publish a middle-grade graphic novel set to come out in 2025. Gender Queer has been banned from bookshelves in more states than any other book.

The Natural Mother of the Child, by Krys Malcolm Belc

gender QueerA memoir written in essays, Krys Malcom Belc writes about the interplay between parenthood and gender identity. Belc is a nonbinary, transmasculine parent whose experience conceiving and giving birth to his son helped to clarify his gender identity. However, when his partner chooses to adopt his son, it is Belc’s name listed as “the natural mother of the child.” This memoir shows how Belc was able to move past societal expectations of motherhood and family.

Instead of mother, I say gestational parent, but the phrase often confuses people,” Belc writes. “I had never embraced or used the term mother, but now having to see it on every form, phrased that way — the natural mother of the child — made me cringe.”

Writing this memoir was a difficult task for Belc because his partner and children were important characters in the story. He admits that while writing “I just kept telling myself, ‘Don’t make it a biography. It’s about your perceptions of what these relationships mean, not about the actual people.'”

Belc has a number of essays published in literary magazines and has a nonfiction chapbook out called In Transit.

Trans Mission: My Quest for a Beard, by Alex Bertie

gender QueerAlex Bertie is a transgender teenager who was assigned female at birth but has been living as male for the past few years. Now he is ready to begin physically transitioning. This memoir takes readers along through his journey. Though Alex has been bullied and faced self-doubt, this book shows that every step in his transition is another step toward happiness.

In 2008 Bertie started a YouTube channel to vlog what would become his multi-year transition. Though he didn’t come out as a transgender man publicly until he was 15, he used his platform as a safe space where he could talk about transitioning. His channel currently has over 3000,000 subscribers and still focuses on LGBTQ+ issues and his experiences as a trans man.

When Bertie first started his YouTube channel, there wasn’t much information out there to help kids and teens struggling with gender dysphoria. His channel became a resource for many people. In 2017, PopBuzz said his channel provides fundamental insights “for children either struggling with this concept or wanting to learn more about it themselves.”

Yes, You Are Trans Enough, by Mia Violet

gender QueerAfter years of knowing that she was different, but not having the language to understand why, Mia Violet finally realized that she was trans enough to be transgender. This witty memoir is an account of Violet’s life leading up to the age of 26 when she finally came out. Not only does Violet share her personal story, but uses her experience to explore the inaccuracies of transgender representation in the media. This is a memoir not only for transgender readers but for anyone who has had to fight to be themselves.

“The trans community is vast and brilliantly diverse, nobody has a transition that sums up the trans experience because there is no singular experience,” Violet wrote in Huffington Post. “Every trans person has a personal and valid story to tell about how they got here.”

As a woman passionate about self-love, positivity, queer rights, and smashing taboos and stigmas, Violet is currently a public speaker. She uses her platform to discuss issues such as transgender rights, LGBTQ+ representation, and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Non-fiction

The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, by Shon Faye

gender QueerShon Faye explores the important topic of transgender liberation in the United Kingdom. The British media has been hostile to transgender people, which only fuels negative opinions. The UK journalist explores how transgender people are affected by issues of social class, employment, housing insecurity, police violence, and prison. Faye makes the argument that if the UK improves the conditions for transgender people, it can make society better as a whole.

Writing about transgender issues isn’t a new topic for Faye. Since starting her writing career in 2014, her work has focused on feminism, sexuality, and mental health. But in 2017, she used her column in The Guardian to address the need for transgender women to have supportive services in response to domestic violence and rape. This led to Faye using her platform and influence to call attention to a number of LGBTQ+ issues.

When The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice was published in 2021, Faye’s writing was described by The Guardian as a “cool dismantling of the myths and falsehoods that continue to blight [transgender] lives.” This book is a true look into the lives of transgender people in the UK.

Fiction

Several People are Typing, by Calvin Kasulke

gender QueerTold entirely through Slack messages, this satirical comedy is the perfect combination of The Office and the “work from home” lifestyle. When Gerald, a mid-level employee at a public relations firm, accidentally has his consciousness uploaded to the company’s Slack channel, his co-workers think he is exploiting the new work-from-home policy. But when tensions get high around the office, things get tricky. Gerald’s co-workers wonder why he gets to work from home all the time and they don’t.

When Kasulke wrote this novel in early 2019, he thought it would age less like a fine wine and more like sour milk. He thought an office tool like Slack would be replaced and no one would understand the references. Little did he know that, much like his character, many people would find themselves living in a world where online communication became the workplace norm.

Kasulke is a Brooklyn-based writer who has written for publications like VICE and DC Comics. He is a transgender man who wrote Several People Are Typing while he was transitioning. This time of connecting his mind with his transitioning body highly influenced Gerald’s journey in his new situation.

The Companion, by E. E. Ottoman

gender QueerThis swooning historical romance novel takes readers to New York in 1948. The story follows Madeline Slaughter who has been trying for years to break into the literary world. So, when she gets the chance to take a break from the city and become the companion to famed novelist Victor Hallowell, she jumps at the opportunity. However, the last thing she expected was Victor’s charm and good looks. Nor did she expect to connect on a new level with Victor’s ex, Audrey Coffin. Will Madeline have to choose between Victor and Audrey?

This sexy romance novel is a beautiful love story between three complex transgender characters. It’s a great blend of cottage-core, historical romance, and low-conflict cozy fiction. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to fantasize about finding love in a cozy hideaway.

E.E. Ottoman is a queer transman who is passionate about history and stories. He has written three queer historical romance novels. Ottoman also published a contemporary romance novel as well as two fantasy romance novels.

The Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki

gender QueerShizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil and now she has to deliver the souls of seven violin prodigies. She has six, but her seventh is proving difficult to get. Shizuka found Katrina Nguyen, a transgender runaway with incredible talent, but suddenly she finds herself extremely distracted. Enter Lan Tran, a starship captain and mother of four. Shizuka falls faster than a satellite from orbit. But as the three women’s lives become intertwined, she doesn’t know how she will fulfill her deal.

Aoki is a novelist, a poet, and a composer. She has written multiple novels and collections of poetry all drawing inspiration from the world around her. When asked about who she writes for, Aoki said that she writes for everyone, not just for trans or queer readers.

“In a world where queer, and especially trans people are dehumanized, I think we need more public acts not merely as demonstrations but as affirmations that our stories, as different as they might be, are exquisitely human,” she wrote in Publishers Weekly.

Poetry

The Good Arabs, by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

gender QueerA beautiful collection of poems written in verse and prose. This collection takes readers from post-explosion Beirut to serene summer Montreal. It takes the reader dancing to Nancy Ajram songs and tells them about peeling and rinsing radishes. But the poems also reflect on how it felt to be starred at on a city bus. This collection looks at the experience felt in a body as it goes through the cycles and repetition of life.

El Bechelany-Lynch says that this collection is what he has always been writing towards. It is a collection that explores gender, racial identity, and the joy of a queer community. What’s more, while writing this collection El Bechelany-Lynch was able to explore the depths of their childhood memories, bringing to light the ways in which his family encouraged him to play with gender, allowing them to live in a non-gendered space.

Water I Won’t Touch, by Kayleb Rae Candrilli

gender QueerThis collection of poetry reflects on the vitality of trans people living in dangerous and hospitable landscapes. Candrilli wrote the collection while healing from a double mastectomy. They used their poetry to explore what was lost and what was gained through the surgery. These poems look at both the dark and bright moments of life as a transgender person. But Candrilli ultimately imagines a joyful future for queer people to thrive.

Candrilli’s poems focus on personal experiences, highlighting the highs and lows of life. Many times in poetry the speaker of the poem is separate from the poet themselves. When asked what their connection was with the speaker, they admitted that there was no separation. They only speak as themselves.

“[I]n terms of my relationship to the speaker of Water I Won’t Touch, it’s just me. I’ve always been open about that in all my work,” they said in an interview with May Day Magazine. “There is no veil between me and the poetry, or at least no veil I’ve hung intentionally.”

These are only some of the many books written by transgender authors. Books by trans authors featuring trans characters and trans stories are not only important to the trans and queer communities but are a vital part of world literature. Transgender people have always existed and will always exist. So too will their stories.

Writer, editor, and proud nerd. Co-host of Wit Beyond Measure, a Jane Austen podcast. A reader of books, binger of Netflix, and knitter of scarves. Her cat is probably yelling at her right now.

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