The best graphic novels with authentic transgender characters by authors who would know

Who am I?

I'm a cartoonist with a transgender-biography and I write trans characters into my stories. Even though I value the growing awareness of transgender representation by all writers, those that were written by people with trans-experience carry special significance. I've written a graphic novel and many autobiographical, fictional, and documentary short stories. These works have centered on the themes sexual identity, gender roles, youth culture, family, social structures, and social history. With my work I aim to shed light on issues that are lesser known, with a strong social focus and the intention of using the storytelling medium and the comic format as a way of making the complex understandable.


I wrote...

Kisses For Jet: A Coming-of-Gender Story

By Joris Bas Backer, Ameera Rajabali (translator),

Book cover of Kisses For Jet: A Coming-of-Gender Story

What is my book about?

In 1999, when most people think that the world is about to end with the Y2K crash, Jet is just trying to get through high school. When their Mom moves to another country to work on fixing the Millennium bug, Jet is forced to stay at a boarding house while they finish the school year.

But something’s not quite right, and it’s not just the out-of-control kids that Jet has to live with, or the staff who look after the boarding house who act super suspiciously. As Jet slowly starts to feel overwhelmed by their peers, they begin to notice that they don’t feel like other girls. As new feelings start to emerge, Jet slowly begins to realise they may be more of a boy than a girl.

The books I picked & why

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Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir

By Bishakh Som,

Book cover of Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir

Why this book?

The visual world Bishakh Som creates has so much personality that I could forget everything around me while I read it. Her main character is a queer goth punk, which is one of the reasons why I had wanted to read it because I love anything punk and queer. She navigates the relationship to her family as a Bengali American, the relationship to herself, to being an artist and all the while also exploring her trans identity. Bishakh Som takes the reader in and out of the fiction, weaving in both herself and her fictional character. It meant a lot to me that by doing this she poises transitioning as a deeply human process of flaws, personal growth, and beauty.

Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir

By Bishakh Som,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spellbound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The meticulous artwork of transgender artist Bishakh Som gives us the rare opportunity to see the world through another lens.
This exquisite graphic novel memoir by a transgender artist, explores the concept of identity by inviting the reader to view the author moving through life as she would have us see her, that is, as she sees herself. Framed with a candid autobiographical narrative, this book gives us the opportunity to enter into the author's daily life and explore her thoughts on themes of gender and sexuality, memory and urbanism, love and loss.


Gumballs

By Erin Nations,

Book cover of Gumballs

Why this book?

I love this brightly colored collection of short stories, Gumballs. The author Erin Nations writes about situations and scenarios that explain a lot of the daily troubles in a trans person's life. The comics are in part autobiographical about his current life, in part about his childhood experience of being a triplet, and in part about fictional characters. The many different stories that range from serious to very funny, never get boring and are easy and fun to read. I recommend it for queer people to relate to and people who want to learn about being queer while also having a good laugh. As a trans person, reading the comic shows me I am not alone with those daily problems. 

Gumballs

By Erin Nations,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gumballs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gumballs dispenses an array of bright, candy-colored short comics about Erin's gender transition, anecdotal tales of growing up as a triplet, and fictional stories of a socially inept love-struck teenager named Tobias. The wide-ranging series is filled with single-page gag cartoons, visual diaries of everyday life, funny faux personal ads, and real-life horror stories from customers at his day job. Gumballs offers a variety of flavors that will surely delight anyone with a taste for candid self-reflection and observations of humanity. This book collects Gumballs #1-4, plus 32 pages of brand-new content! Gumballs tips its hat to the classic alt-comic…


The Third Person

By Emma Grove,

Book cover of The Third Person

Why this book?

This book impressed me because it doesn't shy away from its subject matter. The author tells about her journey and the struggles that pile up when she seeks professional help to transition but meets instead with a therapist who quickly becomes overwhelmed as they unpack trauma and dissociative identity disorder. With a whopping 904 pages, it's intense, but never gets dense. Entry is low-threshold and the quirky characters drew me in in no time. So much so that even when I didn't know who to believe, I was ready to believe anyone. This book perfectly illustrates the problems around gatekeeping of transgender healthcare and its complex intersections with mental health.

The Third Person

By Emma Grove,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Third Person as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A boldly drawn, unforgettable memoir about trauma and the barriers to gender affirming health care. In the winter of 2004, a shy woman named Emma sits in Toby s office. She wants to share this wonderful new book she s reading, but Toby, her therapist, is concerned with other things. Emma is transgender, and has sought out Toby for approval for hormone replacement therapy. Emma has shown up at the therapy sessions as an outgoing, confident young woman named Katina, and a depressed, submissive workaholic named Ed. She has little or no memory of her actions when presenting as these…


Stone Fruit

By Lee Lai,

Book cover of Stone Fruit

Why this book?

Stone Fruit is such a pleasure to flip through and enjoy for its beautiful drawings and line work. In the story the main character works through reconciling their relationship with their partner and themselves and their identity. The bond that they have with their niece is about ways of connecting, facing reality, and the cathartic potential of our creative minds. As a queer parent I really connected with how the relationship between the characters is about what we gift each other between generations or among peers, transcending the traditional family structures.

Stone Fruit

By Lee Lai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stone Fruit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray’s niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seeded personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties ― Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn’t fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and…


Body Music

By Julie Maroh, David Homel (translator),

Book cover of Body Music

Why this book?

Body Music is a lyrical compilation of short stories that play in the city life of Montreal. Each story is a small insight into the intimacy shared between two or more people. Very tenderly the author shows how love and connection are as unique and personal as people are different. It was heart-warming to read trans characters who were just one more way in the myriad of ways of being human. 

Body Music

By Julie Maroh, David Homel (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Body Music as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Julie Maroh's first book, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was a graphic novel phenomenon; it was a New York Times bestseller and the controversial film adaptation by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Maroh's latest book, Body Music, marks her return to the kind of soft, warm palette and impressionistic sensibility that made her debut book so sensational.


Set in the languid, European-like neighborhoods of Montreal, Body Music is a beautiful and moving meditation on love and desire as expressed in their many different forms?between women, men, and gender non-conformists alike,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in topics and characters, queer topics and characters, and gender identity?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about topics and characters, queer topics and characters, and gender identity.

Topics And Characters Explore 57 books about topics and characters
Queer Topics And Characters Explore 120 books about queer topics and characters
Gender Identity Explore 43 books about gender identity

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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