The best fiction books by trans/non-binary authors with trans/non-binary characters

Who am I?

As a genderqueer non-binary person who always felt alone and invisible, it has been incredible to see the change taking place, particularly in YA, as more and more trans and non-binary authors get to tell their stories. Had I been able to read even one of these books as a teen, I might’ve avoided many years of unhappiness. Also, I’ve always been drawn to fantasy and science fiction, perhaps due to my need and desire to escape mundane reality, but I truly love how these genres let the imagination run riot, particularly when authors imagine kinder and more accepting worlds for LGBT+ people.

I wrote...

By the Blood of Rowans

By Xan van Rooyen,

Book cover of By the Blood of Rowans

What is my book about?

By the Blood of Rowans is a dark fantasy novel about a complicated family, ancient magic, and new love.

It’s about Rowan, the resident death walker who carries the souls of those who die on the magical island of Inisliath to the Otherworld. Things get complicated when someone starts offing members of the founding families in what might be a last-ditch effort to revive the dying magic. And it’s about Ash, the recent arrival returning to their ancestral home with their detective Mum who’s been tasked with investigating the ritualistic killings. Ash quickly develops a crush on Rowan, the only person they’ve ever met who seems to get Ash—unfortunately, he’s the main suspect even though Ash discovers he might actually be the next victim!

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The books I picked & why

When the Moon Was Ours

By Anna-Marie McLemore,

Book cover of When the Moon Was Ours

Why did I love this book?

Honestly, I could’ve picked any book by McLemore. They are all absolutely stunning. McLemore’s prose is lush and poetic, rich in metaphor and nuance. Their stories have a timeless quality about them at once grounding them in reality and yet offering glimpses of the surreal and ephemeral. When the Moon Was Ours is an incredibly poignant love story between Sam, a Pakistani trans boy, and Latinx Miel who has literal roses growing out of her wrists. This story provided insight into both Pakistani and Latinx culture while weaving a breath-taking tale of love and identity.

By Anna-Marie McLemore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Moon Was Ours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Weight of Feathers comes a young adult novel about a girl hiding the truth, a boy with secrets from his past, and four sisters who could ruin them both.

Recipient of a Stonewall Honor and longlisted for the National Book Award, McLemore delivers a second stunning and utterly romantic novel, again tinged with magic.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known…

Book cover of The Black Tides of Heaven

Why did I love this book?

This silkpunk novella series blew me away with its intricate world-building, heavily inspired by the author’s Singaporean background, and complex political landscape. I’m also a sucker for stories about twins and instantly adored the two very different siblings, Akeha and Mokoya, who are our main protagonists in this tale that examines themes of cultural and wealth inequality as well as gender identity. The Slack magic system in this series is also particularly well-crafted. 

By Neon Yang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Black Tides of Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Joyously wild stuff. Highly recommended." ―The New York Times

One of the 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, according to Time Magazine

A Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards for Best Novella

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to Neon Yang's Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls "effortlessly fascinating." For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available simultaneously.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants. While Mokoya developed her…


By Nino Cipri,

Book cover of Finna

Why did I love this book?

I hate Ikea stores. To me, they are hellish landscapes and this book—set in a fictional store modelled after Ikea—just gets me! This novella is a hilarious romp through the multiverse, balancing swashbuckling adventure with quiet yet razor-sharp insight into the ebb and flow of romantic relationships. This story shows that navigating love can be even more complicated than navigating interdimensional wormholes!

By Nino Cipri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A magical anti-capitalist adventure.” ―Annalee Newitz

Nino Cipri's Finna is a rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. It explores queer relationships and queer feelings, capitalism and accountability, labor and love, all with a bouncing sense of humor and a commitment to the strange.

When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store ― but not that one ― slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional…

Book cover of The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

Why did I love this book?

This, and its sequel, is truly one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. It’s a punk rock road trip following Danielle Cain as she struggles to deal with the grief of losing her best friend while also going up against some truly bizarre characters and creatures in a utopian squatter town called Freedom. I loved the raw and unapologetic attitude of the main protagonist and the diversity of the supporting cast. This book is dark and brooding, fun and poignant in equal measure. It’s a paranormal riot and I loved every minute of it, and the follow up called The Barrow Will Send What It May.

By Margaret Killjoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Danielle Cain is a queer punk rock traveller, jaded from a decade on the road. Searching for clues about her best friend's mysterious and sudden suicide, she ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. All is not well in Freedom, however - things went awry after the town's residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner. Danielle shows up in time to witness the spirit - a blood red, three antlered deer - begin to turn on its summoners. Danielle and her new friends have to act fast if they're going to save the…

Book cover of The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

Why did I love this book?

I left this book for last because it is, perhaps, the heaviest and most gut-wrenching. In this book, Emezi crafts an exceptional paranormal story showing the true-life difficulties (that is the life-threatening and openly hostile discrimination) faced by LGBT+ people in Nigeria. A fact that’s sadly true in many other African countries too. This book has so many layers, every scene dripping with nuance and a clear tenderness for the subject matter. It would have been easy for this story to remain steeped in tragedy, but Emezi manages to elevate their characters and narrative above that, providing an ultimately heartwarming story that leaves the reader with a sense of wonder and hope while never dismissing the severity of the reality so many LGBT+ people face on the African continent.

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Astonishing.' Stylist
'Electrifying.' O: The Oprah Magazine
'Brilliant and heartbreaking.' Marie Claire
'Propulsive and resonant.' Esquire

They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died.

One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son's body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek's birth, the day his grandmother Ahunna died. It is the story of an over protective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family's struggle to understand…

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