If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
We follow the story of Amanda, a transgender girl who goes to live with her father. She falls in love, makes new friends and learns to love the body she should have been born with. The novel switches between present day and flashbacks all the way through Amanda’s childhood to her attempted suicide and finally, her transition. This is a YA contemporary with all our much-loved themes but having it told by a transgender woman makes the story so much more relevant.
Dreadnought by April Daniels
Dreadnought is the first book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. We follow the story of Danielle, a superhero who just happens to be transgender. This is a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life and when Danny is confronted by a dying Dreadnought, one of the world’s best superheroes, it isn’t long until her life is completely changed when with his dying breath, he gives her his powers and changes her from the boy she was born into the girl she has always been. Faced with her new appearance and blossoming superpowers, Danielle is drawn into the world of heroes and villains alongside her fellow class-member/masked vigilante, Sarah/Calamity as they work together to stop Utopia, a super-villain hell bent on controlling the world.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
This beautiful magic-realism story follows the story of a lost girl who has roses growing from her wrists and Sam, a transgender boy with a Pakistani heritage whose culture is explored through his paintings. Sam and his mother have always followed the practice of Bacha posh, the cultural practice in Afghanistan and Pakistan of families without sons picking one of their daughters to live and behave as a boy, in order to accept his identity. Although this book is heavily metaphorical and magical, it still manages to deal with many intense issues – such as gender and race. Overall, this is the story of the friendship between Sam and Miel.
George by Alex Gino
A middle-grade novel incorporating what it means to be transgender and how it is manifested in children. When people look at George, they see a boy but inside, she knows she’s not. Despite the heavy issues, this book being narrated by 10 year old George allows it to remain a lighthearted and heartwarming, especially George’s blossoming friendship with Kelly who accepts her without question. Female pronouns are used throughout the entire book and during one scene, George renames herself as Melissa and from that point on, that is her name. I think it’s so important to have a middle-grade novel that focuses on the positivity of a trans character and the acceptance that should always be in their lives.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
Beautiful cover? Check. Beautiful story? Check. Own Voices? Check. Diversity? Double check. Just checks everywhere for this amazing retelling of Peter Pan. Despite (unfortunately) being quite short, this story definitely packs a punch as we follow the story of Pan who returns to Neverland after resigning to live his life as Wendy Darling. However, growing up has only fuelled his true identity as a boy. Coming back to the Lost Boys who have now become men and his old rival, Captain Hook isn’t what Pan expected. What is extra unexpected is the attraction he now feels towards Hook leaving a new question, who the real villain is. This book is cute and fun and Pan and Hook could have been SO toxic but Austin nailed it. Definitely pick up this adorable retelling!
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This young-adult fantasy novella is packed full of diversity despite being so small. Our main character is asexual (whose identity is confirmed and discussed), there is a trans boy whose identity is discussed in a wonderful and fascinating way and there are also secondary characters, one of Japanese descent and the other is Latino. This story takes place in a home for ‘wayward children’ and all is seemingly normal, except for the disappearing children who end up in magical lands. Heartbreakingly beautiful, reminiscent of Narnia and yet jam-packed with diversity. Despite the trans character being a secondary character, his identity is still treated with respect so we thought it was worthy to mention in this list. Also, the sequel Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out in June!
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Upon delving into the world of book Twitter, you will probably come across this novel almost immediately. A superhero story packed with diverse characters including a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese main character, a lesbian love interest and a trans boy called Bells whose identity is only confirmed when he is casually asked about his binder. The best news? The sequel, Not Your Villain, gives us Bells as our main character! This series is set in a world where superpowers are the norm but who is to say that they are more powerful than their sidekicks? This book is fun, full of the good kind of tropes but most of all, full of diversity. Also, who wouldn’t want that cover on their shelves?
Lots of love,