38 books directly related to topics and characters 📚

All 38 transgender books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

My Sister, Daisy

By Adria Karlsson, Linus Curci (illustrator),

Book cover of My Sister, Daisy

Why this book?

This is a heartwarming and sensitive story of a change in a family when a younger brother announces a new gender identity. She is a girl. There's an author's note, telling us this is based on a true story. And the bright darling illustrations add to this needed picture book for all children.


The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

By Shon Faye,

Book cover of The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

Why this book?

This book is written with the utmost clarity – making an incisive and digestible argument why liberation for trans people fits into wider fights for socialism and justice for minorities. With chapters on why “T” belongs in “LGBT” and why trans inclusion should be core to feminist movements, it’s an essential read for LGBTQ+ people and their allies. 


Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality

By Kristen Schilt,

Book cover of Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality

Why this book?

I have always thought that we desperately need to hear from transmen and transwomen to help distinguish the effects of biological sex from those of cultural gender conditioning—more specifically, to illuminate both the influence of our respective high levels of estrogen or testosterone) and, in a word, sexism. Using interviews with transmen, Schilt very much does the latter. Consider this book a thorough precursor (2010) to the much-publicized experiences of Martin and Nicole (Google it); Martin concludes, about his experience being treated as Nicole, "It sucked." Indeed. (And the surprise experienced by so many transmen at their post-trans experiences supports the view that most women have no idea how easy men have it.)


Melissa (Formerly Published as George)

By Alex Gino,

Book cover of Melissa (Formerly Published as George)

Why this book?

This book is a milestone in transgender literature for kids. Published in 2015, it follows a fourth-grader’s attempts to get classmates, teachers, parents, etc. to see past the surface: she’s a girl named Melissa, not a boy named George as everyone perceives. An argument often leveled against transgender kids is that they can’t know they’re transgender because they’re too young. This novel counters that by compassionately and realistically portraying a child who knows her identity from an early age, and it shows how devastating it is when the people who should love and support Melissa instead reject her assertion of her identity. It has a happy ending, but it leaves the reader thinking about how many transgender kids don’t get that—thereby inspiring advocacy. 


Act Cool

By Tobly McSmith,

Book cover of Act Cool

Why this book?

Another YA book set in New York, but this time in the world of a performing arts school. August Greene, a trans boy from a conservative Pennsylvania community, not only gets accepted into a prestigious performing arts academy in the big city but gets to live his authentic life while doing so. Trouble is, his parents don’t know he’s trans. McSmith is heavily involved in the NY theatre scene, and he writes with insight and accuracy about both trans issues and trans representation in the performing arts. 


Girl Mans Up

By M-E Girard,

Book cover of Girl Mans Up

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 that make me rethink my definitions of femininity and masculinity, and this novel gave me a lot to mull over for a long time. 


Transmutation: Stories

By Alex Difrancesco,

Book cover of Transmutation: Stories

Why this book?

I picked up Transmutation when it was very difficult for any book to hold my interest—during the constant low-level depression that colored the seemingly endless extended lockdown in Sydney in 2021. It held me spellbound. I had an inkling it would: I adored DiFrancesco’s earlier work, Psychopomps, which I read in 2019. The stories of Transmutation are electric and warm and sad. Like the other stories and novels on this list, they never fully answered my questions, never wrapped anything up in a neat bow. They left me immensely satisfied.


Meet Cute Diary

By Emery Lee,

Book cover of Meet Cute Diary

Why this book?

I may be biased about this book because I happened to read it during a really dark time in my life. It was exactly what I needed to get me back on my feet and lighten my mood. I loved being able to escape into Noah’s messy and hilarious love story and forget about the world around me. 10/10 I highly recommend this book!


Too Bright to See

By Kyle Lukoff,

Book cover of Too Bright to See

Why this book?

This middle-grade book is a beautiful and sensitive portrayal of a child (Bug) who has never felt quite at home with their assigned gender. Bug’s mom, one of the most loving, caring, and supportive parents I’ve seen in fiction about transgender kids, provides a wonderful example of how to handle a trans child’s gender exploration in a nonjudgmental way. I saw a lot of myself in Bug, and I learned even better ways to support my own transgender child. This book is great for anyone who wants to understand the experience of a transgender kid, and for adults looking for examples of how to be a supportive parent or caregiver. 


Peter Darling

By Austin Chant,

Book cover of Peter Darling

Why this book?

I was bewitched by the weird allure of Peter Pan when I read it as a kid, and I think I love Peter Darling even more. Not only does it recast many of the unsettling aspects of the original into a more palatable interpretation, but it provides a trans twist: at home on Earth, he’s known as Wendy Darling, but when he escapes to Neverland he becomes Peter Pan, his true self. Returning there as a young adult, Peter begins untangling the emotions and past events that have haunted him, and finds most are not what they seem.

Foremost in the welcome surprises is that he and Captain Hook don’t have to be arch-enemies—they could, in fact, become quite the opposite. Needless to say, the story also provides pirate ships and fairies and swashbuckling: who can resist those?


Crossing: A Transgender Memoir

By Deirdre N. McCloskey,

Book cover of Crossing: A Transgender Memoir

Why this book?

Sex is an essential part of who we are. What determines our sexual preferences? Do they stem primarily from nature or nurture? Deirdre McCloskey, an eminent economist, is especially qualified to answer these questions. She began her life as Donald, who was married and in his 50s when he realized that he was really a she and became a woman. Crossing, a memoir of McCloskey’s agonizing, exhilarating transformation, is a fascinating deep dive into sexual identity.


When Aidan Became a Brother

By Kyle Lukoff, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Book cover of When Aidan Became a Brother

Why this book?

I think this is one of the most remarkable books about transgender experiences available now. Aiden gives voice to both his excitement about becoming a big brother and his frustration with the practice of assigning babies a gender based on their body parts. I have never read another picture book that better reflects my own feelings as a trans person. This book is warm, funny, honest, and will help both parents and children better understand trans experiences and each other. 


A Practical Guide to Transgender Law

By Robin Moira White, Nicola Newbegin,

Book cover of A Practical Guide to Transgender Law

Why this book?

From crime to punishment, and this comprehensive guide to the facts of UK trans people’s legal protections (and their absences) is calm and authoritative. At a point when the press and media are filled with smoke and mirrors about trans rights, Robin and Nicola, both practising barristers (‘trial attorneys’ in the US) set out the current rights and responsibilities affecting areas such as education, healthcare, asylum, prisons, media, and sports.

Crucially, they include a chapter asking ‘Are Gender-Critical Views a Protected Belief?’ (they are if you keep them to yourself but aren’t if you express them at work). At the same time, the fact that such a book is needed underlines the grim truth that trans lives are not equal lives, that they aren’t able to rely on the same protections given to cis people, and that they cannot afford the insulated ignorance about the law which the rest of British society enjoys. Sobering reading, whether you are trans or cis.


The Boy & the Bindi

By Vivek Shraya, Rajni Perera (illustrator),

Book cover of The Boy & the Bindi

Why this book?

I love lyrical picture books with colorful illustrations. If you do too, you’ll enjoy The Boy & the Bindi. Vivek Shraya tells the story of a boy who wants to wear a bindi, the red dot Southeast Asian women often wear on their foreheads to show where creation began. Instead of chastising him for wanting to do something reserved for women, the boy’s mother welcomes him into the beauty of the bindi, explaining its significance. This book does a wonderful job of meeting children who are exploring their gender exactly where they are. 


Pet

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Book cover of Pet

Why this book?

Chibundu Onuzo’s debut novel PET is an exciting introduction to one of literature’s most innovative voices. PET is a YA novel set in the fictional city of Lucille. The adults tell the children there are no more monsters, but best friends Jam and Redemption learn otherwise. The novel doesn’t flinch from big issues—identity, abuse, and police brutality. The book is so unique it’s hard to classify it.


Dreadnought

By April Daniels,

Book cover of Dreadnought

Why this book?

I agreed to do this list because I wanted to promote April’s book so much. Seriously. If I could recommend it in every slot I would. Trans superhero dealing with her rage and powers in an alternative USA where superheroes are real? Yes, please. The writing is like so good that sometimes I type chapters of this book as a warm-up (and writing procrastination technique). I re-read it as a treat to myself as a way of surviving the pandemic.   


Before I Had the Words: On Being a Transgender Young Adult

By Skylar Kergil,

Book cover of Before I Had the Words: On Being a Transgender Young Adult

Why this book?

A rollicking and touching memoir from trans vlogging pioneer, artist, and musician Skylar Kergil. Skylar writes with honesty and wit, taking us through his whole childhood, coming out, and transitioning. If you’ve ever seen any of his transition vlogs on YouTube, you know how engaging Skylar is, and his voice shines through in this book. It feels very much like he’s talking to you over a cup of coffee. 


The (Un)Popular Vote

By Jasper Sanchez,

Book cover of The (Un)Popular Vote

Why this book?

This book hits all the right points for me. A diverse cast, teens figuring out who they are, and the problem of obstacles thrown in their way. That’s real life. In this divisive climate, we see and hear a lot of arguments played out on the news. Parents arguing against this, teachers and librarians fighting for that. What we don’t see and hear enough of are the kids, the ones who are truly affected by these disagreements. What I love about this book is that we get to hear their points of views, their feelings. We see what happens when a parent refuses to accept their child for who they are and puts limitations on their love. I love this book because it gives me that perspective.

The Pervert

By Michelle Perez,

Book cover of The Pervert

Why this book?

A truly singular book that details a semi-fictionalized account of a transgender sex worker surviving in Seattle. Depicted as a cute anthropomorphic dog-like creature, the story follows her as she meets with various clients and navigates her own identity struggles and in-progress transition (not to mention her own safety in her dangerous line of work). A deeply emotional and raw story that still manages to retain its own dark sense of humor throughout.

(Deals with themes of drugs, sex, and violence. 18+ only.)


Felix Ever After

By Kacen Callender,

Book cover of Felix Ever After

Why this book?

I love how real this book is. Felix makes big, messy mistakes—the kind most authors are reluctant to write for fear that readers will find their character unlikable. But the truism about how we learn the biggest lessons from the biggest screw-ups is brilliantly illustrated here. This is why we read books: They teach life lessons by example so we don’t have to learn them the hard way ourselves. The trans boy rep is spot-on, and I adored how Felix’s complicated relationship with multiple identities is presented with depth, sensitivity, grace, and good humor. A gorgeous, thought-provoking, and inspiring YA novel about finding yourself and loving who you find.


Cemetery Boys

By Aiden Thomas,

Book cover of Cemetery Boys

Why this book?

This book was such a fun escapist read for me. I laughed out loud while reading on multiple occasions, in public! I especially loved the characters and relationship dynamics in this book. From Yadriel to Maritza, to Julian, each character felt fully fleshed out and real. If you like paranormal romance, mystery, or lovable himbos, this book is definitely for you!


It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book about Gender Identity

By Theresa Thorn, Noah Grigni (illustrator),

Book cover of It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book about Gender Identity

Why this book?

“Why is that dad wearing a dress?”

It wasn’t the first time my toddler commented on someone’s appearance in front of them, but I was convinced that his question sounded like a judgment. We have never left our grocery store so fast. I was angry. He was worried. Had he done something wrong? Yes! Maybe? I didn’t know. Had I? Yes. I wanted my family to be cool with all forms of gender expression, but I hadn’t built the common ground or the vocabulary to make that vision a reality. I’d projected my own fears, ignorance, and self-consciousness onto my child. I blew it. This book gave me words. We don’t assume anything about ourselves or other people anymore. I can see that my son’s curiosity comes from a place of sincerity and positivity. Now, I have the confidence to follow his lead.


Stone Butch Blues: A Novel

By Leslie Feinberg,

Book cover of Stone Butch Blues: A Novel

Why this book?

I came out in Northampton, Massachusetts, dubbed the “Strange Town Where Men Aren’t Wanted” by The National Enquirer, where being straight was the minority. Though grappling with my own internalized homophobia, I was immediately embraced by the vibrant, dynamic, and supportive lesbian community there. I had it easy compared to Jess, the protagonist in this semi-biographical work. This haunting and heartbreaking narrative, as well as the tragic stories of far too many of my friends, opened my eyes to the emotional toll of homophobia that continues to plague so much of the world today. Stone Butch Blues is not an easy read, but the struggles and triumphs of Jess remind me that being true to ourselves in the face of negation and adversity is one of the greatest of human achievements.


Scandalous Desires

By Elizabeth Hoyt,

Book cover of Scandalous Desires

Why this book?

This was the first historical romance I read where the hero’s an anti-hero bad boy on the wrong side of the law. It’s one of those books where it almost seems impossible for him to end up with the heroine at the end. But Elizabeth Hoyt excels at writing gritty love stories where the reader and heroine alike fall in love with the biggest scoundrel. Having read this story and seeing how Mickey O’Connor’s character was tackled helped me create Carlton Guthrie, a notorious crime lord, years later when I began writing The Forgotten Duke.


Lily and Dunkin

By Donna Gephart,

Book cover of Lily and Dunkin

Why this book?

This is a book that explores deeply the role that fathers can play in our life. Lily is a transgender girl, which confounds her father and causes friction in their family. Norbert, nicknamed Dunkin, takes meditation for bipolar disorder—the same illness that caused his father to commit suicide. I appreciate this book for so many reasons; Gephart treats the transgender character with deep respect, and she doesn’t shy away from the topic of parental suicide. A children’s librarian once told me that suicide was too heavy for middle-grade fiction, but I disagree. In fact, I based a key plot point in my own novel on the experience of one of my past high school students whose father committed suicide when she was still in middle school.


Detransition, Baby

By Torrey Peters,

Book cover of Detransition, Baby

Why this book?

I loved reading this contemporary novel which is hilarious, astute, smart (you can see why it was nominated for so many book Prizes!) Written by a trans author, with central trans characters, it skips over any “explaining” about trans lives and eschews the sterotypes, making for complex and nuanced protagonists who feel 100% real. It’s a book about queer family making, and what that can look like. It feels right up to the minute in terms of the new formulations of family that are existing today. 


Confessions of the Fox

By Jordy Rosenberg,

Book cover of Confessions of the Fox

Why this book?

This book has several mind-benders in it, and I love it. There is a historical manuscript that an academic in the near-future has to verify for authenticity. The manuscript is from the 1700s about a transperson named Jack Sheppard, and his adventures in London. But the footnotes from the near-future academic and their advisors reveal a threat that ultimately cause them to flee. This novel bends and stretches and changes, all the while keeping one narrative in 1724 with the incredible slang of Jack Sheppard, and the other narrative and its meta-revelations stuck (almost always) in the footnotes. By then end, you want to go drinking with Jack and Bess. 


Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

By Julia Serano,

Book cover of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Why this book?

Every list should have a classic, and Whipping Girl is a classic in spades. Written for a mainstream audience in 2007, but still vibrantly relevant to today’s trans lives, it brought the terms ‘cissexual’ and ‘cisgender’ into the mainstream, and introduced crucial concepts, such as ‘cissexual privilege’ and ‘trans misogyny’. Julia does brilliantly the difficult balancing act required to make complex ideas easily accessible to a general readership and covers a wide spectrum of debate. It’s a tour de force, and a favourite of mine when thinking or teaching about LGBT social justice. 


Homesick: Stories

By Nino Cipri,

Book cover of Homesick: Stories

Why this book?

This book of speculative short fiction includes some of the best queer representation I've seen in ages. "A Silly Love Story" includes a gender-fluid character named Merion, and "Before We Disperse Like Star Stuff" includes a trans grad student named Min. Cipri manages to combine the surreal and illogical with a pervasive sense of warmth and humanity, which is a nearly impossible feat, and they make it look easy. Each story will leave you wondering what happens next, but the characters will also live on in your imagination long after you've turned the page.


The Passing Playbook

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Book cover of The Passing Playbook

Why this book?

This book is only too relevant right now. Spencer has already come out once and he shouldn’t have to do it again, but a discriminatory law forces him to put his safety and friendships at risk. Beautifully told, this is a story about how coming out isn’t always the perfect choice sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do, and that is why I chose it for my list.


George

By Alex Gino,

Book cover of George

Why this book?

I love middle-grade novels and George is a classic. It reminds me of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and I can think of no higher compliment! Alex Gino masterfully captures the perspective of a trans girl and her journey to expressing herself. This book isn’t shy about the difficulties that George faces, but its tone is gentle and hopeful. That’s the balance that I try to strike in my own writing. I can only hope I’m as successful as Gino. You’ll love this book.


Heresy

By Melissa Lenhardt,

Book cover of Heresy

Why this book?

Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to turn outlaw,” but sometimes life just hands you a rough deal. Especially if you are a woman in the Wild West. This novel is an interesting journey of strong women choosing to take fate into their own hands. They don’t want to end up on their backs to make money, and decide they rather take the money they feel the world owes them. Heresy is a classical Wild West tale with a bit of a female twist. A good read for any lover of this genre.


Britt-Marie Was Here

By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of Britt-Marie Was Here

Why this book?

I love how Backman is able to pinpoint human nature with very small means. Britt-Marie as an aging, thorny character jumps off the page and instantly made me sympathize with her. Following her journey from feeling stuck to walking out on her cheating husband and finding herself the unexpected caretaker of a recreation center, was so invigorating. Every step of the way, the softening of her edges as her authentic zest for life and interest in new acquaintances arise made the book unputdownable. I will read whatever Backman writes.


Turkish Awakening: A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey

By Alev Scott,

Book cover of Turkish Awakening: A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey

Why this book?

Turkish Awakening is the result of Alev Scott’s desire to discover the land of her mother’s birth and explore contemporary Turkish life and politics. Scott combines personal insights with an objective gaze to focus on a confusing and often contradictory culture, to try to unravel the complex relationships between modernity and religion unfolding in Turkey today. She chats with taxi drivers, examines how sex work and transgender inhabitants coexist, sometimes uneasily, next door to conservative Muslims recently relocated from the country, and explores the impact of popular soap operas featuring the newly rich on the aspirations of ordinary Turks and international tourism. The rise of the ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP – Party for Justice and Progress) is covered as well as Turkey’s changing relationship with the EU. The book ends with Scott’s observations about the protests that sprang to life in Gezi Park in Istanbul and then spread throughout the country in 2013.

Turkish Awakening
is essential reading to better understand what makes the country and its people tick. 


Female Husbands

By Jen Manion,

Book cover of Female Husbands

Why this book?

Manion traces the history—from the colonial era to the early twentieth century—of people assigned female at birth who lived their lives as men. As the author shows, American and British history has been replete with such individuals, long before “transgender” became a term. If found out, they risked public humiliation, whippings, and imprisonment. Manion sets their lives in the context of their times, recreating their compelling stories through court records and newspaper accounts.  


Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

By Joy Ellison, Teshika Silver (illustrator),

Book cover of Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

Why this book?

In this gorgeous, accessible story, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two transgender women meet on the street and become fast friends. They never knew whether they would eat, find shelter, or face violence from "Alice in the blue dress" (the police). Yet their friendship and generosity radiate throughout this story. They freely give their last dollar. Worry about kids without roofs. On Marsha’s birthday in 1969, they begin the “beautiful” revolution at the Stonewall Inn by refusing to be arrested for wearing dresses. This courage, this determination to create safe housing, this joyful zeal for equality inspires me still. Transgender people still face so much danger, something I've learned from people I care about. Sylvia and Marsha inspire me to revolt with love.


The End of Men

By Christina Sweeney-Baird,

Book cover of The End of Men

Why this book?

I read The End of Men recently during the pandemic. Without giving the plot away, this book is about a pandemic written before the actual pandemic. The thing I love about this book is the deep feelings it invoked. It is written from many viewpoints and I really cared about the characters – if a book can resonate so deeply that it makes you wonder how your life would be in the same circumstances, the author has succeeded. The women in the book face an almost unimaginable struggle and I rooted for them all the way.


The Moon Within

By Aida Salazar,

Book cover of The Moon Within

Why this book?

I love how this book presents a girl’s first period as a beautiful and positive experience, while realistically showing her fear and nervousness as she anticipates this event. The main character is so relatable: she’s unsure about her first crush, she has a snarky rival, and she struggles to be supportive when her best friend needs her the most. This book in verse is musical, magical, and hard to put down.