Literature for Transgender Youth

There may be up to 3 million transgender people in the United States (according to the National Center for Transgender Equality) which suggests that there are youth in every community who defy gender norms. It is universal, and although I would like to think that the 21st century is probably the most tolerant time in history, there are still youth who need the support of adults when questioning their gender identity because they are bullied at school or not accepted at home. In fact, the comment below points out that indigenous and First Nations peoples have historically been much more accepting and affirming of difference, including gender difference. Transgender youth tend to be invisible and may not know where to find support and resources.

Luckily, there are some great books that high school teachers can keep in their classrooms and libraries that will help questioning youth understand they are not alone.

Here is a list of five of them:
  • Freak Show (2007) by James St. James, Dutton. A story about a teenage drag queen at an uptight private academy who wants to be not only accepted, but homecoming queen!
  • Parrotfish (2007) by Ellen Wittlinger, SImon & Shuster. Did you know parrotfish can change gender? This is an idea that appeals to awkward Angela who wants to be accepted as Grady, and finds support in some unlikely places.
  • Luna (2006) by Julie Anne Peters, Little Brown. Luna is a great story about Liam who transforms himself into Luna every night with the help of his sister's clothes and make-up, but wants to stop hiding.
  • Choir Boy (2005) by Charlie Anders, Soft Skull Press. Berry loves to sing and when puberty threatens to change his voice, this young man decides castration or hormones may be the answer.
  • Morgan in the Mirror (2004) by C.C. Saint-Clair, BookMakers Ink. Morgan is a trans man who decides to make a full transition to female.
Teachers are frequently seen as "safe" and therefore the adults that students first come to with questions about their gender or sexuality, and the best thing teachers can do is know about some of these books and resources to point the kids to. Libraries may not be able to include these books because of local politics, but classrooms can usually keep books under the radar. I have to warn you though, these books, along with books about homosexuality may never be officially checked out, but will disappear quickly, so check your stock frequently and be prepared to replace them on a regular basis.

Photo Credit: Franco Folini
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