Gift Ideas: YA Books with trans themes or characters

Looking for gift ideas for your family? Books are a great idea, especially in this time when we are all at home with time on our hands and need to get away from screens.
 
Here are some YA books to check out:
  • The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag – This is a whole series. It’s not about being trans, but is a cool allegory that trans kids can relate to: In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. 
  • Cemetery Boys by Aidan Thomas – A trans boy who is determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave. The representation in this book is something we often don’t see. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.
  • Dreadnought by April Daniels – Dreadnought is the world’s greatest superhero. Until he 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.
  • When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – Described as a stunning and utterly romantic novel tinged with magic, this story features a trans boy as one of the main characters, and one where the author “uses the supernatural to remind us that the body’s need to speak its truth is primal and profound.” Sounds amazing!
  • The Deep and Dark Blue by Niki Smith – Described as “The Witch Boy (see above) meets The Legend of Korra.” This graphic novel, illustrated with a bit of a manga feel, has a trans girl as one of the main characters. It’s good for middle school ages, which is nice! 
  • Spellhacker by M.K. England – This book gets mixed reviews as being a bit predictable. But younger YA readers will probably enjoy it. It fuses a magical substance called maz against the backdrop of scientific support so it blends fantasy and science-fiction together. The real beauty is in the diversity of characters: from POCs to LGBTQ+ who are completely normalized: lesbian, gay, non-binary characters along with the mention of brown skin and headwraps.
  • Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu – Mooncakes is another graphic novel, this time about love and demons, family and witchcraft. One of the main characters is nonbinary. It’s just a lovely world, so I hope they do more! 
  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi – This is another story where being trans is normalized. (How refreshing!) While the main character, Jam, is transgender, it’s not a theme of the book. It is mentioned in a chapter, and then doesn’t come up again. Another character has 3 parents, all with different pronouns (male, female, non-binary).
  • I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver – When Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, Ben tries to keep a low profile just to complete school. This might sound a bit harsh for some kids, but it’s a beautiful story of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender – I love everything about this book review: Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve. Felix desperately wants to know what it feels like to be in love, but secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

In addition to all of these books, Flamingo Rampant is a great resource for  amazing books aimed at younger kids. It’s run by a trans man who is dedicated to representation and promoting important values like racial justice, disability pride, kids taking action, and most of all loving, positive LGBT2Q+ families and communities. They have 16 published titles so far, and you’re sure to find a least a couple that you’ll want for your own collection. 

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