10 Books By Trans Authors That Will Change Your Life

Trans authors need to be celebrated. In the current sociopolitical climate, the global public hears a lot about transgender people without hearing anything directly from us. We, the transgender community, are a class of people historically both vilified and ignored; hyper-visible in terms of societal derision and exposure to violence, and yet invisible in mainstream society’s perception and understanding of humanity.

Only in recent years have a few trans voices miraculously bubbled to the surface of a long, violent conversation that cisgender people have been having about us ever since white colonialism forced its rigid view of gender and sexuality upon the rest of the world. Transgender people have extremely valuable contributions to make to our society, both in terms of activism and art.

Here are 10 books by transgender authors; 10 insightful, beautiful, and powerful places to get started listening to the voices of our community, to learn about our history, to further your already-begun process of allyship, to see beautiful worlds of fiction created through our eyes; or if you’re trans yourself, just sit down, learn from, and enjoy.

The following list contains a virtually even mix of transmasculine, transfeminine, and non-binary authors, as well as an equal ratio of fiction and non-fiction, covering a wide enough variety of subjects that, whatever your reading preference, should allow you to find something that’s right up your alley. Please have fun exploring, support the trans authors via the purchasing links below, and enjoy!

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Edited by Nat Smith and Eric Stanley 

Transgender people need to have their voices heard.

Category: Non-fiction 

Captive Genders is arguably one of the most important abolitionist texts out there, and written through a trans and black lens. This text displays and dissects how the carceral system and prison industrial complex most brutally affect the most vulnerable of our society, via a collection of all kinds of written material; manifesto, personal essay, analysis, stories, interviews, etcetera. It breaks down, in extremely comprehensive detail, the way that the system of surveillance, police and imprisonment that Americans currently live under entangles with strict enforcement of gender roles and normativity, and as a result, put trans people of color at exceptional, terrible risk of violence. It’s a very hard read for obvious reasons, but a very necessary and worthwhile one.

Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender

The stories of transgender people are shared in Felix Ever After.

Category: Fiction

A fun YA novel of romance and intrigue with a black trans guy main character, Felix Ever After tells the story of Felix Love (who has never been in love), catfishing in order to solve the mystery of who’s been sending him transphobic messages online; messages which include his dead name and photos of him pre-transition. What Felix didn’t anticipate is that his catfishing would cause him to enter a weird love triangle situation. It’s a very sweet tale of love and identity, and most importantly, how to love yourself.

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, by C. Riley Snorton

Transgender identity and racial history explored in Black on Both Sides.

Category: Non-fiction

This comprehensive history from the black trans perspective highlights the racialization of gender identity, and how views of gender, queerness, and everything related have evolved with and been largely shaped alongside conceptions of race. It’s an amazing read, and something I heartily recommend giving to both the well-meaning yet ignorant white LGBT+ person in your life, and your maybe kinda transphobic cishet Uncle of Color, before either of them ruin another holiday for you.

Before I had the Words: On Being a Transgender Young Adult, by Skylar Kergil 

Trans authors creating memoirs about being a transgender young adult.

Category: Memoir 

This autobiographical tale from a noteworthy transmasculine internet figure from the early 2010s shines a very specific and interesting light on a unique era of exponentially growing trans awareness. The 2010s were arguably the most impactful decade for the transgender community yet, particular in the USA, and saw a rise to visibility unlike anything we had ever experienced before. This is particularly true for transmasculine people, seeing as a coalesced transmasculine community really only started existing circa 2007-2010, and this book is sort of a lovely little time capsule of that weird transitional (haha, get it) time period for the community.

Trans Like Me: Conversations for All of Us, by CN Lester 

Trans books by transgender authors that need to be read.

Category: Autobiography and Personal Essay 

Trans Like Me is a nonbinary trans author’s examination and exploration of gender and transness. I think a lot of people have probably come into contact with this concept before; I recommend this book in particular because it comes from a nonbinary author and is beautifully written. This is a great book for people who need a little nudge on learning to understand or empathize with the nonbinary experience, or just love reading people’s experiences and thoughts relating to gender.

I’m Afraid of Men, by Vivek Shraya 

Trans authors of color such as Vivek Shraya write amazing, inspiring books.

Category: Autobiography and Personal Essay 

This book, which details the author’s relationship to men and masculinity as a transgender woman of color, is frankly amazing. It provides a really intimate and terrifying look of the violence of manhood, misogyny, how masculinity is both forced upon and denied to transgender people and people of color, and how it particularly and complexly affects those most vulnerable in the LGBT+ community. Celebrated for her writing and poetry as well as her music and art, Vivek Shraya is definitely a trans author to follow closely and enthusiastically.

Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi 

Trans authors of color.

Category: Fiction-slash-Autobiographical Novel

Freshwater is the author’s life experiences spun into a beautiful story exploring gender identity and dysphoria through possession by parasitic deities; an exploration and celebration of Nigerian mythology and Akwaeke Emezi’s culture. I personally haven’t gotten to read through yet (just ordered my copy), but the reviews for this breakout novel are glowing and I could not be more excited to dig in!

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution, by Susan Stryker 

transgender history explored in a book.

Category: Non-Fiction 

This book provides a concise and insightful history of transgender people in the USA, spanning specifically from the middle of the 19th century to contemporary times. Written by trans author Professor Susan Stryker, who was recently featured in the fantastic Netflix documentary Disclosure, which highlights a similar topic and timeline of the history of transgender and gender variance in film and media. I cannot recommend either the book or the documentary enough!

The Black Tides of Heaven, by Jy Yang 

trans books by trans authors

Category: Fiction 

The first in the multi-volume Tensorate series, the rich fantasy world of which is inspired by the beautiful, complex, pan-Asian culture of Singapore and the staple archetypes of East Asian cultivation novels, with a nonbinary Singaporean author, trans characters, and gay romance! Jy Yang is an incredible trans author with a very precise and beautiful voice, and the narrative and character arcs in The Black Tides of Heaven are both something I found very unique, fresh, and fulfilling to read. I am still working my way through the rest of the series, of which there are currently four books total, so if you are a lover of fantasy epics, this is a wonderful well of content to start exploring. 

A Safe Girl to Love, by Casey Plett

Category: Fiction

A book of eleven beautiful short stories following different young trans women through their experiences of love and loss. This poetic and compelling book offers beautiful, romantic, bite-sized stories that reflect the trans experience, so you can make up for your trans lady main character deficiency all in one volume.

Article & Illustration by Skylar Swift Kardon

Instagram @transmisc Twitter @skylarkswift

Note: Although this list has been personally curated, some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we may earn a commission. This helps us with website maintenance costs as an independent media source.

Read more: 6 Films That Actually Feature Trans Actors in Trans Roles

Skylar Swift Kardon

1 thought on “10 Books By Trans Authors That Will Change Your Life”

  1. Ooh also Written on the Body: Letters by Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
    It’s heavy, but good.

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