The best books on non-binary gender 📚

Browse the best books on non-binary gender topics and characters as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Orlando: A Biography

Orlando: A Biography

By Virginia Woolf

Why this book?

Though I am committing one of the greatest spoiler crimes in book-herstory by including Orlando on this list, how could I not?

I always remember the line towards the end, when Orlando is standing in a department store: "Someone lights a pink candle and I see a girl in Russian trousers." It alludes to her (and our) memory of the earlier glorious Thames frost scene, where Orlando first falls in love with Russian Princess Sasha. Like Orlando, we all walk among the ghosts of London's history, and our own history, and a single trigger can catapult us into…

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The best books with extraordinary London heroines

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Book cover of The Black Tides of Heaven

The Black Tides of Heaven

By Neon Yang

Why this book?

As a fellow genderqueer/non-binary Asian writer, I’m happy to champion the first in Neon Yang’s Tensorate series. A YA novella set in a non-Western fantasy landscape, this book tackles issues of gender identity and choice head-on, introducing us to a society where children are referred to individually using they/them pronouns, and can select one of the binary genders when they come of age or chose to remain non-binary. We see the world through the eyes of twins Mokoya and Akeha as they come into their gender expressions and their powers in a feudal, monastic society largely reminiscent of those found…

From the list:

The best speculative fiction books for dismantling the patriarchy

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Book cover of The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

By Akwaeke Emezi

Why 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…

From the list:

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

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Book cover of Girl Mans Up

Girl Mans Up

By M-E Girard

Why this book?

“I want to be a boyfriend who is a girl.” — Pen Oliveira, protagonist and all-around badass. While this YA novel isn’t specifically about being trans, it does explore gender from the angle of a girl who dresses like a boy, hangs out with the boys, and likes girls—much to the consternation of her parents. Pen does a lot of heavy thinking about what “girl,” “boy,” “man,” and “woman” mean, whether any of these labels apply to her, and the damage that results when others saddle her with expectations according to their own definitions of those words. I love books…

From the list:

The best YA and MG transgender books

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Book cover of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

By Kate Bornstein

Why this book?

Growing up as a hardcore tomboy, the gender binary issue has always been a challenge for me. Why do I have to choose between male or female? I resent being given only one gender with no option to explore a spectrum of gender possibilities. The gender battle is raging at the forefront of American politics. If you don’t understand the debate, this is a great book to start with to learn more about gender and identity. The writing is bold, courageous, and hilarious, and does a great job of smashing gender conformity.

From the list:

The best books to ignite the revolution, smash patriarchy, and bring on the love

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Book cover of The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

By Margaret Killjoy

Why 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…

From the list:

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

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