Transgender Recs

Hello! If you’ve clicked on this page, you’re probably looking for some good recommendations for books that feature trans representation. Below are some books we at Rainbow Stacks have LOVED along with some that are still on our TBR, including some wonderful recommendations from some transgender YA authors. As always, feel free to add your own recs in the comments below (:

*NOTE: all books provided on this page includes a list of Trigger Warnings either provided by the author or provided with thorough research. It will be noted if the trigger warnings are directly from the author. Much of our research came from reader reviews on Goodreads or on BookTriggerWarnings.com. Even though time and care was put into researching these triggers, these lists may still not be exhaustive and may not include your specific triggers. If any of these books seem like they could be triggering, research your own triggers before reading. Take care of yourself xx.

BOOKS WE’VE READ AND LOVED

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Representation: mc is a Black, transgender boy (own voices rep!!) who also identifies as queer. Secondary character is biracial and queer.

Trigger Warnings (TW): bullying, catfishing, cyberbullying, deadnaming, disownment, drugs, homophobia, misgendering, injections, outing, parental abuse, racism, transphobia

Felix Ever After follows the messy and emotional life of our transgender, Black, and queer main character Felix. After someone maliciously displays pictures of Felix before his transition, along with his deadname, Felix vows to take revenge on whoever did this to him. All this is set against the backdrop of a summer arts program Felix is a part of.

We loved so many aspects of this book, including the portrayals of young love and complex relationships — especially for someone who is transgender. Pick this one up if you want a impactful coming of age story that is full of heart and passion!

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Cemetery Boys by Aidan Thomas

Representation: mc is a Latinx Trans Boy (own voices rep!) who identifies as gay. Love Interest also identifies as gay. Includes a m/m romance.

Trigger Warnings (TW): transphobia, dead naming, violence

This spooky Latinx story follows a trans boy named Yadriel who comes from a long line of brujos and brujas. However, in a desperate attempt to prove he is a real brujo, he accidentally summons the ghost of the school’s bad boy, Julian, who has recently been murdered. This throws Yadriel into a wild adventure as he tries to uncover who or what killed Julian before it is too late. Full of magic, hilarity, and heart, this one tackles topics of acceptance and family connection while set deep in the heart of Latinx culture.

We especially loved the inclusion of a trans main character in a fantasy setting. Although the number of transgender characters in YA is now slowly increasing, many of the well known ones are in YA contemporary novels. We loved Cemetery Boys for letting Yadriel have badass magic and fight to defend his community.

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai. Although the main characters are not transgender, there is a side character who is a trans woman, who plays a significant role in the plot. Chloe Gong’s newest book, Foul Lady Fortune (Sept 27th, 2022) also features this character and we cannot wait to read it! This one if perfect for those who want more casual transgender rep or a story that does not focus on it entirely.

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

BOOKS STILL ON OUR TBR

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie Mclemore

Representation: MC Sam is a Pakistani trans boy. MC Miel identifies as queer and is Latinx. Author is Latinx and identifies as queer.

Trigger Warnings (TW): Transphobia

Here is the official summary provided by Goodreads:

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. 

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Representation: MC is a trans boy who is mixed race including white, Japanese, and Afro-Caribbean. Love Interest is nonbinary.

Trigger Warnings (TW) as provided by the author: emotional abuse, panic attacks, toxic relationships, vomit, alcohol, drug use, mentions of bullying and suicide

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Act Cool by Tobly McSmith

Representation: Mc is a trans boy (own voices!!).

Trigger Warnings (TW): misgendering, dead-naming, suicidal thoughts.

Here is the official synopsis provided by Goodreads:

Aspiring actor August Greene just landed a coveted spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. There’s only one problem: His conservative parents won’t accept that he’s transgender. And to stay with his aunt in the city, August must promise them he won’t transition.

August is convinced he can play the part his parents want while acting cool and confident in the company of his talented new friends.

But who is August when the lights go down? And where will he turn when the roles start hitting a little too close to home?

Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White

Representation: Mc is a trans boy who identifies as gay. Also includes gender non-conforming rep, and many characters identify as queer in some capacity.

Trigger Warnings (TW) as provided by the author: violence (explicit gore, murder, mass murder), transphobia, vomit, body horror, domestic abuse, parental abuse, self harm, attempted suicide by side character. Please note that this is a graphic YA horror.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.

But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.

Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Representation: Mc is a trans girl. Author herself is a trans woman. Bi and Lesbian supporting characters.

Trigger Warnings (TW): depression, suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts, bullying, forced outing, attempted rape, sexual assault, homophobia (including slurs), transphobia, hospitalization.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different and a love story that everyone will root for.

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Representation: Mc is a trans girl who identifies as a Lesbian.

Trigger Warnings (TW): transphobia (with slurs), homophobia (with slurs), misgendering, emotional abuse from a parent, bullying, suicide ideation.

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Representation: MC is a Black and transgender girl. The whole cast is also Black and there are many other queer identifies represented.

Trigger Warnings (TW): blood, eye mutilation, child abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional in the past), pedophilia (in past), sexual assault (in past), violence

Here is the official synopsis as provided by Goodreads:

There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster–and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also uncover the truth, and the answer to the question How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.

Learn more about what it means to be transgender on our Gender Identity Explained page!