November 13-19 is Transgender Awareness Week: a time to share stories and experiences that affect the transgender community. One approach is to read books centering the perspectives and lives of transgender and non-binary people – especially if the writers are also trans.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up 12 books for adults, teens and children that have trans or non-binary characters and themes. For more titles you can read or listen to on a mobile device, check the Transgender Awareness Week shelf on cloudLibrary.
The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund
This magical realism novel introduces Owen, who has spent a decade in hiding because he has a chatty bird inside his chest. Owen flees home and goes to live with his uncle and cousin, where he learns the joy of “found family” and falling in love. Although Owen is not specifically described as trans, the author is trans, and the book investigates queer themes and situation.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Vivek experiences blackouts – moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. But Vivek does have a close bond with their knowing, high-spirited cousin named Osita. As their relationship grows stronger and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis, an act of violence occurs during a precious moment of freedom. Emezi, a non-binary trans writer, skillfully uses disparate voices to deliver this Stonewall Book Award-winning story about a transfeminine character.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
To escape damnation, Shizuka must convince seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success – and she’s already delivered six souls to the devil. When a young transgender runaway named Katrina catches Shizuka’s ear, she believes her final candidate is here. Until she meets Lan Tran: a retired starship captain and interstellar refugee who helps Shizuka redefine the value of a human soul.
This novel was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2021 and was a 2022 Stonewall Book Award winner.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
This powerful novel earned a Stonewall Book Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
Aster lives in the slums of the HSS Matilda: a space vessel that has been carrying the last of humanity to a mythical promised land for generations. The ship’s leaders impose harsh restrictions on sharecroppers like Aster, who is considered sub-human. But when an autopsy on the Matilda’s leader reveals a link between his death and Aster’s mother’s death years before, Aster becomes embroiled in a dispute that may spark a civil war.
Young Adult Books
Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt
After her father comes out as a trans woman, seventh-grader Izzy wonders if her family will ever be out of the spotlight. After all, she just got a starring role in her school’s musical – which makes the timing of her family’s changes less than ideal. This book is heartfelt and complex, with realistic portrayals of kindness and acceptance.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
The children in the city of Lucille are taught there are no monsters anymore. But when 15-year-old Jam and her best friend, Redemption, meet a creature made of horns and claws, Jam and Redemption start to reconsider what they’ve been told about monsters – and why the creature might be here in the first place.
Pet is a New York Times Notable Book as well as a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, and a Lambda Literary Award.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
With some help from his cousin, 16-year-old Yadriel performs a ritual to summon and set free the ghost of a murdered family. But the ghost he summons is actually Julian, the school’s resident bad boy who wants to find out what happened to him and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Yadriel – whose family doesn’t fully understand his gender – agrees to help Julian so they can both get what they want.
Cemetery Boys was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Publishers Weekly, and Barnes and Noble and was longlisted for the National Book Award.
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Noah runs a popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, that collects stories of happily ever trans. One tiny problem: all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a 16-year-old trans boy has grown into a beacon of hope for trans people all around the world. So when a troll reveals Noah’s blog is fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary: convince everyone that the stories are true, with a little help from someone special named Drew.
This novel was selected for the 2022 Rainbow Booklist by the American Library Association.
Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff
When Max starts elementary school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet, so Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents.
Calvin by JR and Vanessa Ford
Even though the world sees him as a girl, Calvin has always been a boy. To support him, his family takes him shopping for the swim trunks he’s always wanted and clothes that will help him feel like a boy at his elementary school. As the first day of school approaches, Calvin is nervous – until his friends and teachers accept him and his name.
Calvin won a 2022 Lambda Literary Award and was selected for the 2022 Rainbow Booklist by the American Library Association.
Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman
All 10-year-old Bug wants to do this summer is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out on the boardwalk. But her brother wants to be with his own friends, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor’s nephew, Frankie. Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And once Bug learns Frankie’s secret, her eyes begin to open to the realities of the world around her.
Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff
Sixth-grader Annabelle is so excited that the new kid, Bailey, is a breath of fresh air. She loves hearing about Bailey’s life in Seattle, meeting their parents, and hanging out at their house. But when Annabelle’s father shares that he and Bailey have something surprising in common, Annabelle starts to see herself and her community in a new light.