Books That Celebrate Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Kids

by Sarah Mangiola

It’s so important that children of all ages see themselves represented in books, and that includes transgender and gender-nonconforming character inclusion and stories that focus on these topics. The following books for kids — from colorful picture books to middle grade reads — celebrate transgender and gender-nonconforming kids. Read them in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance or any day throughout the year.

  • Middle Grade & Chapter Books

  • The Cardboard Kingdom

    by Chad Sell

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    The Cardboard Kingdom offers a less-direct look at gender and gender nonconformity, but rather at identity as a whole. Over the summer, 16 kids transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes and a kingdom of their own. Their imaginations take them on one last quest before the school year begins, and they have to reencounter their own inner demons. This graphic novel tackles the importance of imagination, identity-searching, and emotional growth.

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  • Who Is RuPaul?

    by Nico Medina and Who HQ, illustrated by Andrew Thomson

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    RuPaul is a renowned drag queen, actor, model, singer, and television personality known for hosting the Emmy-winning reality competition show "RuPaul's Drag Race." As an influential figure in the LGBTQ+ community, RuPaul has used his platform to advocate for self-expression, equality, and empowerment. This biography follows his story from a little kid playing dress up to becoming the most famous drag queen in the world.

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  • The Ship We Built

    by Lexie Bean

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    Rowan doesn’t know where he belongs — he’s not the “right kind” of girl or the “right kind” of boy, so the kids at school don’t want to spend time with him and his parents both ignore and abuse him. Rowan finds comfort in writing down his secrets in letters and attaching them to balloons — in hopes someone out there will read them and understand. This tender novel will pull at kids’ heartstrings and remind them to be accepting of everyone — just as they are.

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  • Zenobia July

    by Lisa Bunker

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    After moving from Arizona to live with her aunts in Maine, Zenobia July is finally able to live openly as a girl. She used to sit behind a computer to improve her coding and hacking skills, but now she’s becoming more of a social butterfly at her new middle school. When someone posts a hateful meme on the school’s website, Zenobia must use her computer skills to solve the mystery — all while grappling with finding her new place as a girl.

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  • Too Bright to See

    by Kyle Lukoff

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    It's summer, and Bug and Moira are preparing to start middle school in just a few months. But while Moira wants to spend all summer picking out the right clothes and looking at boys in the yearbook, Bug wants nothing to do with learning how to be more like a girl. As Bug unravels the mystery surrounding a ghost who's haunting the family's rural Vermont home, the truth that Bug is transgender comes to light in this middle grade novel about navigating grief, identity, and growing up.

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  • Lily and Dunkin

    by Donna Gephart

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    Lily and Dunkin are both going through a lot. Lily, who was born Timothy, is a girl — but middle school isn’t so easy when you look like a boy. Dunkin is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved after living in the same place for 13 years. When Lily and Dunkin meet one summer morning, their lives take a notable turn. Readers will love their story, as each of them tries to find themselves — both together and apart — in this beautifully-written tale.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2024.