Transgender Literature for Young Adults

It’s not easy to locate young adult books with transgender characters or topics using the library catalog, so we have put together a bibliography of these resources. Included are guides to YA transgender literature as well as fiction and nonfiction about transgender characters and people.

Other sources for transgender literature include:

American Library Association Rainbow Project
The Rainbow Project puts together a yearly bibliography of GLBTQ books for children and young adults. Members of the Rainbow Project come from the American Library Association GLBT and Social Responsibilities Round Tables.

Lambda Literary Awards
Launched in 1989 by the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Lambda Literary Awards is the nation’s most celebrated and comprehensive collection of awards for GLBT writing, including fiction, poetry, mystery, nonfiction, and works for adults as well as for children and young adults.

– Robert Bittner’s article in The ALAN Review:
Bittner, Robert. “The Trouble with Normal: Trans Youth and the Desire for Normalcy as Reflected in Young Adult Literature.” The ALAN Review 37.2 (2010): 31-35.

The Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award
This is a yearly award for GLBT books. This award is sponsored by the American Library Association GLBT Round Table.

Guide to Young Adult Transgender Literature

Webber, Carlisle K.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teen Literature: a Guide to Reading Interests. 2010.
Webber has assembled a guide for public and school librarians to current literature of specific interest to young people of sexual minorities. She suggests titles to help create, expand, or update a collection. Full bibliographic citations and annotations are provided for the categories coming of age, contemporary realistic fiction, issues, genre fiction, alternative formats such as poetry and graphic novels, and GLBTQ nonfiction.
[Main Stacks 028.1625 W385g]


Anders, Charlie.
Choir Boy. 2005.
Twelve-year-old choirboy Berry wants nothing more than to remain a choirboy. Desperate to keep his voice from changing, he tries unsuccessfully to castrate himself, and then convinces a clinic to treat him as a transsexual. Berry begins a series of hormone pills, which keep his voice from deepening but also cause him to grow breasts. When his parents and friends discover the truth about him, Berry faces a world of unexpected gender issues that push him into a universe far more complex than anything he has experienced.
[Education Storage S. An226c]

Brothers, Meagan.
Debbie Harry Sings in French. 2008.
When Johnny discovers Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, he not only likes her music but realizes that he kind of, sort of, wants to BE her. He’d like to be cool and tough and beautiful like her. He’d like to dress like her. He’s not gay, at least he doesn’t think so. So what does it mean? And what should he tell his amazing new girlfriend? This novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and white ideas of sexuality and gender.
[Center for Children’s Books S. B795d]

Cart, Michael (ed).
How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity. 2009.
Presents twelve stories by contemporary, award-winning young adult authors, some presented in graphic or letter format, which explore themes of gender, identity, love, and sexuality. Three stories include transgender characters.
[Education S Collection S. H8301]

Cart, Michael (ed).
Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth. 2001.
Ten original stories by adult and teen authors look at love and sexuality. “The Welcome” by Emma Donoghue is about a young lesbian with a crush on a woman who she learns is transgender.
[Uni High 813.08 L9411]

Ewert, Marcus.
10,000 Dresses. 2008.
Bailey longs to wear the beautiful dresses of her dreams but is ridiculed by her unsympathetic family who rejects her true perception of herself and insists that Bailey is a boy.
[Education S Collection SE. Ew38t]

Katcher, Brian.
Almost Perfect. 2009.
Logan befriends new girl Sage, and quickly develops a crush on her. Sage discloses her big secret to Logan: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.
[Center for Children’s Books S. K1559a]

Peters, Julie Ann.
grl2grl: short fictions. 2008.
In this short story collection, Julie Anne Peters offers a stunning portrayal of young women as they navigate the hurdles of relationships and sexual identity. Stories include a transgender teen longing for a sense of self.
[Uni High Fiction P442g]

Peters, Julie Ann.
Luna. 2004.
Fifteen-year-old Regan’s life, which has always revolved around keeping her older brother Liam’s transsexuality a secret, changes when Liam decides to start the process of “transitioning” by first telling his family and friends that he is a girl who was born in a boy’s body.
[Education Storage S. P442lu]

Wittlinger, Ellen.
Parrotfish. 2007.
Grady, a transgender high school student, yearns for acceptance by his classmates and family as he struggles to adjust to his new identity as a male.
[Uni High Fiction W786p2007]


Beam, Cris.
Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers. 2007.
When Cris Beam first moved to Los Angeles, she started volunteering at a school for transgender kids. In Transparent she introduces four of them and shows us their world, a dizzying mix of familiar teenage cliques and crushes with far less familiar challenges like how to morph your body on a few dollars a day. This is an adult book that could work with older teens interested in this subject.
[Main Stacks, Residence Halls Allen Hall Multicultural 306.76 B37t]

Franco, Betsy.
Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers. 2008.
From an acclaimed anthologist comes this unforgettable collection of poems by teenagers–straight, gay, bi, and transgender–capturing the vertigo-inducing realm of romantic love.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 F193]

Garden, Nancy.
Hear Us Out!: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress and Hope, 1950 to the Present. 2007.
In this unique history, Nancy Garden uses both fact and fiction to explore just what it has meant to be young and gay in America during the last fifty years. For each decade from the 1950s on, she discusses in an essay the social and political events that shaped the lives of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) people during that era. Garden’s book occasionally looks at laws and social norms affecting people who are transgender.
[Center for Children’s Books S.306.76 G167h]

Howey, Noelle and Ellen Samuels (ed).
Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents. 2000.
Ranging from humorous to poignant, the essays touch on some of the most important and complicated issues facing kids growing up with GLBT parents: dealing with a parent’s sexuality while developing an identity of one’s own; overcoming homophobia at school and at family or social gatherings; and defining the modern family. Out of the Ordinary also includes a resource guide of organizations that offer support for the hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian, and transgender parents and their children. This book won the 2001 Lambda Literary Award for the Children/Young Adults category.
[Main Stacks, Undergrad 306.874 Ou82]

Huegel, Kelly.
GLBTQ: the Survival Guide for Queer & Questioning Teens. 2003.
Author Kelly Huegel understands what GLBT teens want and need to know. As a teen, she struggled to realize and accept her own identity. Her frank, sensitive book is written for teens who are beginning to question their sexual or gender identity, those who are interested in GLBT issues and rights, and those who need guidance, reassurance, or reminders that they aren’t alone. Kelly offers practical advice, knowing encouragement, accessible resources, and real-life testimonials from teens that have been there. Topics include coming out, facing prejudice and pressure, getting support, navigating relationships, staying safe, making healthy choices, surviving and thriving in high school, and more.
[Main Stacks, Uni High 306.766 H871g]

Levithan, David and Billy Merrell (ed).
The Full Spectrum: a New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities. 2006.
YA authors David Levithan and Billy Merrell have collected original poems, essays, and stories by young adults in their teens and early 20s. The Full Spectrum includes a variety of writers – gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transitioning, and questioning – on a variety of subjects: coming out, family, friendship, religion/faith, first kisses, break-ups, and many others.
[Education S Collection S.306.76 F957]

Sonnie, Amy.
Revolutionary Voices: a Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology. 2000.
Celebrating the future of GLBT, Sonnie presents a collection of experiences, ideas, dreams, and fantasies expressed through prose, poetry, artwork, letters, diaries, and performance pieces. Transgender, transsexual, and transphobia are terms defined and used throughout.
[Uni High, Main Stacks 306.7660835 R328]