As an #OwnVoices trans YA writer, I get asked for recommendations of YA books about transgender characters. Over the past few years, I’ve been happy to see a significant increase of transgender characters in YA literature. And not only are these characters often protagonists, but they’re more likely than ever to have been written by trans or non-binary authors.
Read on to discover twelve transgender YA fiction books featuring trans/non-binary main characters. I have highlighted books written by transgender or non-binary authors with an asterisk (*).
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo * : Amanda Harvey moves in with her father after transitioning to female to start fresh at a new school. But when she meets Grant, all of her plans to lay low and avoid falling in love go out the window.
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin: Riley Cavanaugh is a genderfluid teenager who blogs about their identity to release some of the pressure of having a conservative congressman father. When their blog goes viral, Riley must make a decision to live authentically in a community that doesn’t always understand deviations from the norm.
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: Sam and Miel are inseparable friends–roses grow from Miel’s wrists, and Sam hangs moons that he painted in the forest. But when the Bonner sisters threaten to take Miel’s roses for themselves, Sam must protect her while risking the exposure of his most personal secrets.
This is one of my favorite transgender YA books featuring a FTM character because the portrayal is so unique and well-written (maybe in part because the author’s husband is trans). I have a soft spot for magical realism YA so if you do as well, this is an excellent choice.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: Young Prince Sebastian has a secret: at night, he transforms into a Parisian fashion icon named Lady Crystallia. When he hires the seamstress Frances tot help him explore his gender expression and identity, what follows is a sweet and unconventional love story.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills: Not everyone accepts Gabe’s identity as a transgender man, especially not his family. But as a radio DJ for the community radio channel “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children,” he’s able to find a safe outlet for him and others who don’t fit in neat boxes.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver * : Ben de Backer’s parents kicked them out after they come out as non-binary, so they move in with their sister Hannah. This LGBT romance book follows Ben as they meet their classmate Nathan and learn what it means to be loved unconditionally.
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson: Fourteen-year-old David’s biggest secret? Although she was born male, she wishes she was born a girl like her sister. When her school’s aggressive new student Leo stands up for her in a fight, she’s challenged to determine whether anyone is normal, really, and if that’s even a goal worth pursuing.
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart: Lily Jo is a thirteen-year-old girl who’s struggling to transition in a home where one parent is accepting and the other refuses to acknowledge his daughter’s identity. But when Lily meets Duncan, a new neighbor who struggles with bipolar disorder, both of their lives change for the better through their unconventional friendship.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin: Discovering that your gender identity doesn’t align with your body can be a journey equally full of beauty and challenges. This non-fiction YA book follows the stories of transgender youth as they come to terms with their identities.
I am J by Cris Beam: J always felt different from the moment he was born, but he wasn’t able to give it a name until he was a teenager: transgender. This is one of the best-known books about a trans guy, and I think it’s a useful read for both those within and outside of the queer community.
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley: Toni and Gretchen fell in love the moment that they met in high school and, when they’re accepted to different universities, they thought that their relationship could survive the long distance. But when Toni’s shifting gender identity puts a strain on their relationship, they discover how love can change over time in unexpected ways.
* = written by a transgender or non-binary author