Trans Visibility Day: 7 Must-Read Books
Because you need more trans and non-binary authors on your bookshelf
March 31, 2023
March 31st is Trans Visibility Day, so what better time to highlight the stories and experiences of trans people?
In this blog post, I'm sharing seven books written by trans and non-binary people that I have loved recently. Within this mix of fiction and nonfiction books, there is something for everyone — whether you're trans or non-binary yourself, or an ally seeking further education.
1. The Transgender Issue — Shon Faye
Perfect for: Anyone who seeks to understand systemic transphobia, and the harm that the current trans moral panic is causing
What it's about: Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than one per cent of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarized 'debate' which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice.
In this powerful book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the 'transgender issue' to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond.
2. Detransition, Baby — Torrey Peters
Perfect for: Fans of raw, humorous fiction and those who are interested in destransition
What it's about: Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn't hate. She'd scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina's pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family - and raise the baby together?
3. All The Things They Said We Couldn't Have — T. C. Oakes-Monger
Perfect for: Trans and non-binary people who want to read something hopeful and joyous
What it's about: Now, more than ever, trans people deserve to hear stories of joy and hope, where being trans doesn't have to be defined by fear and dysphoria, but can be experienced through courage, freedom, and the love and acceptance of their chosen families.
Through a series of uplifting, generous and beautifully crafted vignettes, T. C. Oakes-Monger gently leads you through the cycle of the seasons - beginning in Autumn and the shedding of leaves and identity, moving through the darkness of Winter, its cold days, and the reality of daily life, into Spring, newness, and change, and ending with the joy of long Summer days and being out and proud - and invites you to find similar moments of joy in your life.
4. What's The T? — Juno Dawson
Perfect for: Young people, or anyone who wants an introduction to trans and non-binary identities
What it's about: Discover what it means to be a young transgender and/or non-binary person in the twenty-first century in this frank and funny guide for 14+ teens, from the author of This Book is Gay. In What's the T?, Stonewall ambassador, bestselling trans author and former PSHE teacher Juno Dawson defines a myriad of labels and identities and offers uncensored advice on coming out, sex and relationships with her trademark humour and lightness of touch. Juno has also invited her trans and/or non-binary friends to make contributions, ensuring this inclusive book reflects as many experiences as possible, and features the likes of Travis Alabanza and Jay Hulme.
The companion title to the This Book Is Gay, What's the T? tackles the complex realities of growing up trans with honesty and humour, and is joyfully illustrated by gender non-conforming artist Soofiya.
5. Between Perfect and Real — Ray Stoeve
Perfect for: Fans of young adult fiction, especially queer theatre kids
What's it about: A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice — and himself. Dean Foster knows he's a trans guy. He's watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he's a lesbian--including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theatre director, who just cast him as a "nontraditional" Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realises he wants everyone to see him as he really is now--not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?
6. Transitions: Our Stories of Being Trans — Various Authors
Perfect for: Those who want an insight into the beautiful variety of trans experiences
What it's about: A visionary, moving and one-of-a-kind anthology of writing on what it means to be trans today and every day.
From the daily bite of anxiety as you go to leave the house, to the freedom found swimming in the wild, through to moments of queer rage and joy and the peculiar timeslip of reliving your adolescence, the stories in this collection reveal the untold lived realities of trans people to help inform, inspire and unite. Spanning a range of topics such as gender dysphoria, transphobia, chest binding, gender reassignment surgery, coming out in later life, migration and love and relationships, these unique first-person accounts celebrate the beauty and diversity of being trans and will empower others on their journey.
Showcasing eight new exciting trans writers, this extraordinary collection is a powerful and heartfelt love-letter to the trans community.
7. Beyond the Gender Binary — Alok Vaid-Menon
Perfect for: People who may not have a lot of time to read, but are dedicated to challenging their thinking about gender
What it's about: Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, Beyond the Gender Binary, Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full colour. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.