Transgender Reading List for Young Adults
While there’s no road map to the young adult years (much to some people’s dismay), that doesn’t mean that it’s completely uncharted territory. If you are, or think you might be, transgender, gender expansive, or genderqueer, you’re an ally trying to understand what a friend or family member is going through, or you’d just like to learn more, the reading list below offers a selection of fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs to help give you the lay of the land. You can donate to PFLAG National by signing into Amazon Smile—smile.amazon.com—prior to purchasing any of the titles below.
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher: Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student named Sage Hendricks breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy.
Freak Show by James St. James: Meet Billy Bloom, new student at the ultra-white, ultra-rich, ultra-conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy and drag queen extraordinaire. Actually, drag queen does not begin to describe Billy and his fabulousness. Any way you slice it, Billy is not a typical seventeen-year-old, and the Bible Belles, Aberzombies, and Football Heroes at the academy have never seen anyone quite like him before. But thanks to the help and support of one good friend, Billy’s able to take a stand for outcasts and underdogs everywhere in his own outrageous, over-the-top, sad, funny, brilliant, and unique way.
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonski: Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher’s wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
How Beautiful the Ordinary by Michael Cart, et al.: Poised between the past and the future are the stories of now. In nontraditional narratives, short stories, and brief graphics, tales of anticipation and regret, eagerness and confusion present distinctively modern views of love, sexuality, and gender identification. Together, they reflect the vibrant possibilities available for young people learning to love others—and themselves—in today’s multifaceted and quickly changing world.
I am J by Chris Beam: J had always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible—from his parents, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding—it’s time to be who he really is.
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde: Elle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because now she has to move out of her apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her. Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door to her new place. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard. Then Elle discovers that Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. Elle’s head and her heart explode; her world is turned upside down. But when an accident nearly takes Frank’s life, Elle must search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.
Kids of Trans Guide from COLAGE: This free PDF is the first and only guide written by and for people who have trans parents. It’s full of stories, advice, resources, and a voice to validate and relate to when your parent comes out as transgender.
Luna by Julie Ann Peters: Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives?
Parrotfish by Ellen Whittlinger: Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl, but it’s a shock to everyone when she cuts her hair short, buys some men’s clothes, and announces she’d like to be called by a new name, Grady. Although Grady is happy about his decision to finally be true to himself, everybody else is having trouble processing the news.
Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill: In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment.
Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews: Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir.