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All Ages

Books That Celebrate Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Kids & Teens

by Sarah Mangiola

transgender books
Background image credit: Yaroslav Melnik/Shutterstock

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 of all ages — from colorful picture books to memoirs for teens — celebrate transgender and gender-nonconforming kids and teens. Read them in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance or any day throughout the year.

  • Picture Books

  • Julián Is a Mermaid

    by Jessica Love

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    After seeing three women dressed up like mermaids on the subway, Julián daydreams of dressing up like a mermaid, too! As he starts crafting his own mermaid ensemble, he worries what his abuela will think of the mess he’s made… and even more, what she’ll think about how Julián sees himself. This heartfelt story is a celebration of individuality and one’s true self. For more adventures with Julián, fans can read the newly-published book, Julián at the Wedding.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

    Related: Julián Is a Mermaid: A Heartwarming Lesson in Identity and Unconditional Love

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  • I Am Jazz

    by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

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    A perfect book for kids who identify as transgender, those exploring their identity, and those looking to gain a better understanding of what their friends and classmates may be going through, I Am Jazz tells the real-life story of Jazz Jennings, who knew from the time she was two years old that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • My Rainbow

    by DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal, illustrated by Art Twink

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    Based on the real-life mother-daughter advocate (and now author!) duo, My Rainbow tells the story of a mother who creates a rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter. This beautifully told and illustrated story is a celebration of our true selves.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • 10,000 Dresses

    by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Rex Ray

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    While sleeping, Bailey dreams about the most beautiful dresses you can imagine. But in the morning, no one wants to hear about these dresses — telling Bailey to act more like a boy. When Bailey meets Laurel, and she’s inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage, they end up making dresses together! This touching tale about becoming the person you feel inside will resonate with young readers.
    (Ages 5 - 9)

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  • 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.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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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.
    (Ages 10 - 14)

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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.
    (Ages 10+)

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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.
    (Ages 10+)

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  • Young Adult

  • Being Jazz

    by Jazz Jennings

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    Jazz Jennings shares her very public transgender journey in this memoir for young adults. One of the most prominent young voices when it comes to discussing gender identity, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl when she was five years old. At the time when her story became public, the world was much less knowledgeable and accepting of the transgender community. Jazz details how these public experiences have helped shaped the transgender community, the discrimination she’s faced because of it, and how her loving family has supported her every step of the way in this memoir.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Lizard Radio

    by Pat Schmatz

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    This YA sci-fi novel focuses on gender nonconformity. In a futuristic society, teens have to choose their gender. After being abandoned as a baby, Kivali was raised by Shelia, a nonconformist. Now 15 years old, Kivali isn’t sure what she is: Boy or girl? Human or lizard? But Kivali has the gift of Lizard Radio, which allows her to harness the “knowings” inside of her. This YA dystopian novel contains complex topics that will resonate with teens as they face decisions of their own.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Beyond Magenta

    by Susan Kuklin

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    Author-photographer Susan Kuklin details the lives of six transgender or gender-neutral young adults she met with and interviewed in this impressive offering. Thoughtfully representing each of them, the book features their portraits, family photos, and candid images alongside the emotional and physical journey they’ve each been through put down in words.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Beyond the Gender Binary

    by Alok Vaid-Menon, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

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    Part of the Pocket Change Collective series, in this installment gender-nonconforming artist Alok Vaid-Menon challenges readers to see gender as malleable and a creative form of expression. This tiny book is full of big ideas!
    (Young Adult)

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  • Pet

    by Akwaeke Emezi

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    Jam is a transgender Black girl living in Lucille, where monsters used to exist… or so she was told. But when Pet emerges from one of her mother’s paintings to hunt a real monster, and something dark lurks in her best friend Redemption’s house, Jam will have to protect her friend and uncover the truth even if no one believes that the monsters are indeed back.
    (Young Adult)

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