I was one of those Harry Potter kids: the kind that lined up for midnight releases of the best-selling books, that devoured instalments within hours of getting my grubby hands on them, and who could recite their Hogwarts house traits verbatim. And yes, I still read Harry Potter fanfiction. You’re allowed to judge me.
Speculative fiction ― a category that spans fantasy, sci-fi, and horror ― like the Harry Potter franchise, presents a unique allure for young readers. Young Adult (YA) speculative lit can whisk kids and teens away into worlds where having magical powers is a glimmering possibility.
There’s a lot to unpack about separating authors from their works, but there’s thankfully a bounty of remarkable work by trans authors who deserve to be read, as well as stories with nuanced representation of gender-marginalized characters.
If you're mad at JK Rowling being an enormous transphobe here's a thing you can and should do:— Elle Maruska (they/them) (@ellle_em) December 19, 2019
support trans writers. buy things written by trans writers. Review things written by trans writers. Recommend things written by trans writers. READ TRANS WRITERS
Need a relief from the deluge surrounding JK Rowling's transphobic tweets? Want to support trans artistry in the fields of fantasy and spec-fic? Check out these fantasy novels (including work from local authors!)! https://t.co/9U70xlC07A— Glad Day Bookshop (@GDBooks) December 19, 2019
If a trans-affirming adventure is something a young reader in your life can get behind, here are our book recommendations for magical reads trans and gender-non-conforming kids can get lost in (and they’re great picks for kids across the gender spectrum). Many are by trans authors themselves.
All product choices are made independently by our editors. HuffPost Canada may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.
Little readers (ages six and under)
From The Stars In The Sky To The Fish In The Sea, by Kai Cheng Thom
Buy it here for $18.76.
Julian Is A Mermaid, by Jessica Love
I used to work in a social justice-oriented bookstore and would spend a lot of time crying in the kid’s lit aisles over books like this. In Julian Is A Mermaid, the titular character meets a gaggle of drag queens and is utterly enchanted. This story with fantastical elements presents the mermaids in a very ethereal manner.
Buy it here for $22.76.
Equity Reads! Julián Is a Mermaid is a beautiful children's book highlighting a gender creative kid who wants to be a mermaid. Julián's abuela takes him to a mermaid parade! Perfect for readers Pre-K to Gr. 3, but heartwarming for all! #equity #childrensbooks #genderinclusion pic.twitter.com/YpjDbq7nM0— Equity Dept SPPS (@EquitySPPS) January 15, 2020
Kid readers (ages 12 and under)
Felix YZ, by Alice Bunker
When a boy fuses with an alien, you can bet that identity looms large in Felix YZ. His genderfluid grandparent and a queer mother are sources of important lessons for the hero.
Buy it here for $22.99.
Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi
Have you heard of PET by Akwaeke Emezi?— cw 🌷 #Pondathon teams are here! ⚔️🌿 (@artfromafriend) July 10, 2019
- YA fantasy about justice & violence
- about Jam, a Black trans girl, who has been taught that monsters don't exist anymore
- ... until her mother's monster painting comes to life 👀
Tell your TBR I said hi. 😘 https://t.co/4xT2OcZUhM pic.twitter.com/suyQhHjxh6
Rarely do YA novels make waves among adult contemporaries like Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet has. The main character is told there are no monsters in her community by grown-ups, but quickly learns otherwise. Emezi, who also wrote the acclaimed adult novel Freshwater, told Teen Vogue she wanted to use the backdrop of YA fantasy to show a better world.
“Some people might have difficulty imagining a world where black trans kids are safe, where there are no police, where there are no prisons. So books kind of help you. Or Pet, in this case, can help create that window of possibility,” she said.
Buy it here for $23.99.
Maiden, Mother, Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes, edited by Gwen Benaway
Considered the first fantasy anthology by trans femme and trans women authors, Maiden, Mother, Crone collects stories where trans femme characters are literally magical: they cast spells and fight villians with the best of them. There’s a potential reprint in the works: its original publisher Bedside Press shuttered following its founder’s admission of crossing sexual boundaries and assault. The anthology’s editor Gwen Benaway said over Twitter that the book is looking for “next steps” going forward.
Buy it here for $20.00.
Got a new book in the mail today. Maiden, Mother, Crone. An anthology of high fantasy tales about trans femmes by trans femme authors. The cover art alone is badass. Check it out, from @BedsidePress pic.twitter.com/8y3N2EKWnT— The Ace of Hugs (@BrookeBrite) July 13, 2019
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories Of Queer Teens Throughout The Ages, edited by Saundra Mitchell
Book #38 was a unique find! I’m glad I stumbled upon it. This collection focuses on queer teens throughout history, some of which are fantasy-based. I especially liked the story of trans Robin Hood. I wish there were more collections like this. 4/5⭐️ #amreading pic.twitter.com/xI1WJONPZz— Robyn Dansereau (@DansereauRobyn1) August 14, 2018
Trans heroes populate this collection of LGBTQ+ historical fiction, with one reader commending its depiction of a trans Robin Hood.
Buy it here for $18.56.
The Dreadnought series by April Daniels
This gritty, superhero series pulls no punches when showing what real trans teens may face, with a flair for all the crime-fighting tropes capes fans love.
Buy it here for $19.31.
I just read this book called Dreadnought by April Daniels and I loved it so much. Teen trans lesbian suddenly gets superpowers, and her body shifts to match her identity. Tw: abusive parenting, transphobic slurs, a terf, and general violence. But she keeps moving forward.— Shelby (@beaujesyasha) June 28, 2019
The Nameless series, by Matthew Rossi
Bisexual author Matthew Rossi started the action-packed Nameless series because he wanted to depict bisexual and genderfluid characters in a nuanced way. Come for the monsters and mythology, stay for the romances that unfurl between characters.
Buy it here for $13.75.
Advanced readers: books for teens who read at adult levels
The Tensorate series by JY Yang
Singaporean non-binary writer JY Yang created a sprawling “silkpunk” adventure in their Tensorate series, a hybrid genre that blends sci-fi, fantasy and East Asian culture. In Yang’s series, people are born without assigned genders. They can choose a gender identity later in life, or abstain from choosing entirely.
Buy it here for $16.34.
The Shadow series by Lila Bowen
The monster-battling runaway protagonist of Lila Bowen’s The Shadow series comes into his own over the course of this four-book high fantasy series; readers will watch the Black and Indigenous hero Rhett shed pronouns and a name that doesn’t serve him anymore as he gains independence.
Buy it here for $13.79.
For #TransDayOfVisibility I want to shout-out Lila Bowen's amazing series that opens with _Wake of Vultures._ For #books with a phenomenal disabled queer trans man of color, absolutely check it out. #amreading #RepresentationMatters— Dr. Katie Kleinkopf (@katiekathryn55) March 31, 2018
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