Summary List Placement
Representation in literature is important: books are an insight into understanding the lives, experiences, and emotions of others. Novels that embrace and celebrate differences in gender help us better understand ourselves and each other. And while literature has only recently expanded to include more non-binary and transgender characters, these new stories are diverse and honest.
To choose these book recommendations, I read reviews from transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer reviewers who hailed these stories as important must-reads. They each encapsulate a different gender experience — some joyful and some heavy, but all of them real, genuine, and important. From romantic comedies to fantasy novels, trans and non-binary representation in literature is growing, and we hope you’ll love these books.
The 21 best books with non-binary and transgender characters
‘The Death of Vivek Oji’ by Akwaeke Emezi
by Akwaeke Emezi (button)
When Vivek’s mother opens her front door one morning in Nigeria, she finds her grown child wrapped in colorful cloth, dead on her front step. As the family tries to unravel the mysteries and secrets of their child’s life, the reader is along for the journey, learning about Vivek’s relationships and identities as the family does. This is such a brilliantly written novel, a story that unfolds in a way that slowly fills your heart as you read about Vivek’s life.
‘Detransition, Baby’ by Torrey Peters
“Detransition, Baby” is about three people — transgender and cisgender — whose complex and unconventional relationships convene over a baby. When Amy detransitioned and became Ames, his relationship with Reese fell apart. Thinking he was infertile from years of hormone therapy, Ames finds Katrina, his lover, pregnant and struggling to decide what to do. While Ames sees an opportunity to offer Reese the baby she always wanted, a messy and complex web of womanhood, motherhood, gender, and sex constructs this sassy, candid, and heartfelt story.
‘Nevada’ by Imogen Binnie
by Imogen Binnie (button)
“Nevada” is a story that has been cherished by trans readers for the punk-rock way the main character, Maria, navigates the nuances of being a transgender woman, beyond the tired language of doctors and therapists. When Maria discovers her girlfriend cheating, her life begins to unravel and she sets off on a new journey: Newly single, newly unemployed, working through past trauma, and coming into her own as a trans woman. This book aptly expresses the difficulties of being transgender that are not always part of the conversation.
‘Jonny Appleseed’ by Joshua Whitehead
This is an Indigenous coming-of-age story about Jonny, a Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer person. Joshua Whitehead explained Two-Spirit (2SQ) as a “celebration of the fluidity of gender, sex, sexuality, and identities, one that is firmly grounded within nehiyawewin (the Cree language) and nehiyaw world-views.” Trying to make a living off the reservation, Jonny becomes an online sex worker. With one week before he’s due to attend his grandfather’s funeral, he must emotionally, mentally, and physically prepare to return home. This profound story embodies the spirituality and beauty of …read more
Source:: Business Insider