A Trans* and Gender Nonconforming Reading List for All Ages [in The Booklist Reader]
News about the transgender community – including banned books, bathroom laws, hockey, wrestlers, models, parades, Jackie and Juliet Evancho, and, most tragically, a horrifying murder caught on cellphone video – have all made recent headlines. Books can be helpful, entertaining, illuminating portals into the trans*/gender nonconforming (GNC) experience.
The list below highlights books by and about the trans*/GNC community for all ages. For non-trans readers with family members, friends, colleagues who are trans*/GNC – actually, for all readers with open minds and hearts – books can lead the way towards becoming well-informed allies.
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
The only picture book memoir thus far tells the story of young Jazz Jennings and her realization at age two that her girl’s brain didn’t fit her boy’s body. Groundbreaking for being the first, yet bookshelves have plenty of room for both addition and improvement.
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case
Jacob’s love of wearing dresses doesn’t exactly endear him to all the other kids in his class. But his imagination and determination eventually win over his parents, his teacher, and his classmates, too.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
A little boy shows his class the power of the little orange dress. With gentle humor, author Baldacchino debunks all the shoulds and shouldn’ts of children’s behavior based merely on their x-chromosomes.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
A blue crayon wrapped in a red label turns out to be the perfect hero in an inspiring story about how to be your own true self.
Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff
Inspired by the work of Gender Spectrum, a non-profit group dedicated to creating gender sensitive and inclusive environments for children and teens, this colorful book explains bodies, how we express ourselves, and identities in easy-to-understand language for all ages. Also includes information and resources for adults and allies.
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
The middle-grade companion to the reality television star’s picture book, I Am Jazz (see above).
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
For Lily (born Timothy) and Dunkin (who’s really Norbert), finding each other makes all the difference in surviving—and thriving—through eighth grade.
Wandering Son series by Shimura Takako, translated by Matt Thorn
A groundbreaking graphic series from Japan about two middle-school friends coming of age: Nitori, who wishes he could be a girl, and Takatsuki, who wishes she could be a boy. Creator Shimura treats both protagonists’ journeys of self-discovery with gentle honesty; her characters are wide-eyed and adorable, uncertain and searching.
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
David wants to be a girl, Leo wants to be unnoticed, and an unlikely friendship is born in this illuminating and appealing British import.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out written and photographed by Susan Kuklin
Six transgender and gender nonconforming teens speak out—candidly, vulnerably, openly—about their diverse experiences. Kulkin’s photographs are especially revealing.
New girl Amanda, born Andrew 19 years ago, escapes the abuse and violence of her home town to start anew with her father, who she hasn’t seen in six years. New school, new friends, maybe even new love. . . if only her secret stays safe.
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
This first-time author tackles a topic rarely seen in books for younger readers: a high school senior discovers secrets about her own body that she’s never even considered.
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
Angela’s announcement, as a high school junior, about his transition to Grady divides his family and friends. Author Wittlinger creates Grady’s world with deft accuracy, filled with contemporary details and all-too-real situations.
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
“The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?” Keep wondering: Riley Cavanaugh isn’t answering.
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
Jonas and Wyatt were born identical twin boys, but by toddlerhood, Wyatt knew she was a girl. Their mother Kelly supported Nicole unconditionally; father Wayne’s understanding would take longer. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nutt edifies readers with history, science, medicine, and law, deftly exposing the family’s challenges without demonizing the ignorant, fearful, at times downright nasty naysayers.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winner has one of fiction’s best opening lines: “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” Cal’s epic self-discovery, interwoven through an epic ancestral tale, is a complex, transformative journey indeed.
She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Originally published in 2003, Boylan updated her bestselling memoir, chronicling her transition from James to Jenny, in 2013. With growing awareness of the transgender community, Boylan’s memoir is even more resonating today.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Frankel’s third novel is her most personal: As the mother of a transgender daughter, she writes with clarity, truth, and heart. Rosie and Penn already have four sons when Claude arrives. A remarkable child by all accounts, Claude announces at age three that he wants to be a girl when he grows up. Cautious at first, the family creates a loving, nurturing world as Claude becomes Poppy. But even in the most accepting environments, living with secrets has challenges and consequences impossible to ignore.
The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper
Just about everything you ever wanted/needed/hoped to know about raising a transgender child. An indispensable guide for all families and institutions that include transgender members. See also: The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens.
Published: The Booklist Reader, March 28, 2017