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5 books for kids and teens that positively portray trans and gender diverse lives


International Transgender Day of Visibility is an opportunity to honor trans and gender diverse people – and to raise awareness of the ongoing discrimination they experience.

Trans and gender diverse people experience higher levels of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal behavior than the general population.

Recent events in Australia, The United Kingdom And The United States remind us of the need to promote the acceptance of trans and gender diverse youth and support their mental health and well-being.

Community, school and family are vital tools for this.

This also applies to books that positively portray trans and gender diverse experiences, themes and issues. Such books can increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of gender differences in young people from an early age. They also validate the lived experience of trans and gender diverse youth.

The five books below all positively portray trans and gender diverse lives in an age-appropriate way.

Read more: Transgender people are not new, and neither is their oppression: a history of gender transition in 19th century Australia

1. My Shadow Is Purple by Scott Stuart (Ages 4-9)

This picture book, My shadow is purple, takes into account gender diversity through the use of color. The story focuses on a boy whose shade is purple: presumably a mix of masculine blue and feminine pink.

Early in the story, the boy celebrates his gender hybridity and enjoys an array of both traditionally masculine and feminine activities. Stuart also explores how society regulates and limits gender expression, and how this can have negative effects on individuals.

That said, the picture book is positive and offers a promising message to the readers. Through both resistance and collective support, we can acknowledge and celebrate the color spectrum of our shadows.

Read more: Supporting trans people: 3 simple things educators and researchers can do

2. Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (Ages 10-12)

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In his awarded junior novel, Too bright to seeKyle Lukoff uses the ghost story to explore gender dysphoria and sadness.

Transboy Bug, 11 years old, lives in a house with relatively benign spirits. However, during the summer before school starts, Bug’s uncle dies and a new ghost takes up residence in the house.

Bug doesn’t just have to learn to live with the grief of his uncle’s death. His best friend, Moira, is eager to give him a female makeover and the new ghostly resident seems intent on sending him a message.

Bug’s exploration of the mind and its journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is sensitive and nuanced, allowing readers to learn about transgender issues (and grief) with Bug.

Read more: Yes, words can hurt young trans people. Here’s what we can do to help

3. Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans (ages 12+)

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Euphoria children is an urban fantasy novel for young adults centered on three trans and gender diverse teens: Iris, who grew from a seed; Babs, the daughter of a local witch; and the boy, so called because his current name does not suit him.

The world Evans creates is one of strange magic, free of the trauma and gender dysphoria often associated with representations of transgenderism in literature and film. The characters’ quest to break a curse allows them to show their resilience, develop their confidence and experience euphoria.

Evans explains (in the author’s note) their decision to create a positive narrative for trans youth:

I want people to know about gender euphoria. I want them to learn about it before gender dysphoria. I want young trans children reading this book to be proud of who they are and imagine wonderful magical lives.

Read more: Queer young adult fiction isn’t all bleak realism. Here are 5 uplifting books to get you started

4. Meet Emery Lee’s Cute Diary (ages 14 and up)

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Meet Fun Diarya heartfelt romantic comedy for young adults, it explores gender identity and sexuality — acknowledging that self-discovery calls for continuous questioning rather than linear progression.

Noah Ramirez, a Japanese, Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean 16-year-old trans boy, loves the idea of ​​falling in love. He writes fictional love stories about transgender people for his blog ‘Meet Cute Diary’. Noah is confronted in real life by Drew, a white cisgender boy whom Noah has mentioned on his blog. After Noah explains his actions, Drew agrees to pretend to date him, to validate his stories. Their pretending soon becomes reality.

However, things get complicated when Noah finds himself attracted to his non-binary and asexual co-worker, Devin. The story explores the changing nature of relationships and love.

Lee creates interesting characters and complex relationships that respect gender fluidity and recognize the blurred line between the platonic and the romantic.

Read more: Transgender youth taking puberty blockers and sex-affirming hormones have fewer depression and suicidal thoughts, new study finds

5. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (Ages 14+)

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Felix, the 17-year-old protagonist of Felix ever after, is Black, queer and trans. The marginalization and transphobia he experiences are compounded when pre-transition images of him are prominently displayed at his school. Felix’s quest for revenge causes him to open up more about himself to others. And he forms new relationships, including with his boyfriend, Ezra Patel.

Similar to Lee’s portrayal of self-discovery in Meet Cute Diary, Callender suggests that learning about yourself and your identity is an ongoing process. Felix continues to make new discoveries about himself, including the realization that he is not a boy but one demiboy.

Callender’s writing is captivating, and the cast of diverse characters who populate the story reflects the variety in our communities. This tender young adult trans romance sensitively explores the complexities of friendship, forgiveness and self-discovery.

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