6 Must-Read Books Featuring Transgender Protagonists
If Caitlyn Jenner has taught us anything in the short time since she transitioned, it is that the world is very much ready to discuss, and hopefully embrace, the transgender community. From Laverne Cox on Orange Is The New Black to Jenner’s Diane Sawyer interview and reality show, transgender individuals—and particularly trans*women—have never been more represented in television. And we have a feeling the publishing world is soon to follow. Before we see a boom in much-deserved transgender books hitting the shelves, we thought we’d take a moment to point out the trailblazers who are already out there.
I Am Jazz
Ages 4- 8
By Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthe
Jazz Jennings, the co-author and inspiration behind this children’s book, is only 15 years old. She has her own docu-series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a YouTube channel with videos that have been viewed over one million times, and she’s been awarded almost every LGBTQ honor out there from one of Time’s Most Influential Teens to a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador. Her picture book illustrates her experience, and that of her supportive family, as she embraces her true identity.
By Julie Anne Peters
Luna is considered to be the first young adult novel centered on a transgender character to be released by a major publisher. This was already ten years ago. How far we’ve come, huh? The story follows Liam, who lives as a boy by day, but at night becomes her true self: the female, Luna. Eventually, Luna decides to live as herself in the outside world and struggles for acceptance from her friends and family.
By Brian Katcher
This book has a fantastic tag line: “Everyone has that one line they swear they’ll never cross, the one thing they say they’ll never do. We draw the line. Maybe we even believe it. Sage Hendricks was my line.” It’s a transgender love story, only it isn’t until the first kiss is shared that Logan learns that Sage was assigned male at birth. It’s a book about tolerance and prejudice that should be in every school library.
In The Blood
By Lisa Unger
Not your typical transgender story, this highly suspenseful novel centers around Lana, a college student and psych major, determined to hide from her past. Only her compulsive lies don’t hold up to scrutiny when her best friend goes missing. Add in the psychopathic eleven-year-old whom she’s babysitting and you’ve got a thriller with twisty turns for those looking to read about a transgender character outside of her transition story.
By Alicia E. Goranson
If you’re looking for a story about transgender superheroes struggling to make rent, look no further. This action-adventure tale features two transgender youths in Boston who accidentally become enemies to a pack of Capitalist superheroes. It’s a fun read with realistic characters whose gender struggles are believable and are addressed, without being the central focus of the book.
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
By Janet Mock
Another book with an Oprah connection, I first saw Mock on Oprah's show, discussing her transition from male to female. She documents her journey beautifully in her New York Times Bestselling memoir. Mock is a powerful advocate for the trans community whose social media project, #GirlsLikeUs, encourages trans*women to live visibly.