May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Created in 2004, this holiday draws attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by those with marginalized sexual and gender identities. I didn’t want to create a list of books that depict the most harrowing and disturbing things that LGBTQIA+ people endure, mostly because I don’t like to read that kind of story. Instead, I believe that representation of queer positive stories and characters can help create a world with less homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia.
With that goal in mind, here are seven trans, bisexual, and gay books that inspire readers to accept their own identities and to embrace the identities of others.
Edit: Updated in 2022
The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith
This middle grade graphic novel is about thwarting a plot to overthrow a fantasy kingdom’s ruling family, but one of the escaped princes realizes that she prefers her hidden identity as a girl. She wrestles with what this means for herself and her family, ultimately having her female identity validated by her twin brother and by a magical tapestry! I highly recommend this book for readers young and old.
FINNA by Nino Cipri
The protagonist of this novella has just broken up with a nonbinary person right before they get sent on an inter-dimensional adventure through IKEA analogues of varying degrees of evil. Jules (the ex) mentions the casual transphobia that they deal with on a regular basis and how being chased by hive mind zombies is preferable. I mean, that’s a mood.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Set in a utopian world that has eradicated the various -isms that haunt our society, little Pet screamed “Girl! Girl! Girl!” as a child when her parents called her a boy, and they immediately adjusted. She was given medical access to hormones without question, and it is a joy to read about a world without transphobia. The plot hinges on the fact that utopias must be vigilantly maintained, however, and I think this message is one to keep in mind as we begin to create safe spaces for those who are currently marginalized.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
This one is for all my bisexual friends who are dating men! You are valid, and your sexuality is valid. Dani Brown is a bisexual delight who loves women and men passionately (though she hates commitment). This romance novel centers on her friends to lovers tropetastic relationship with Zafir, a hunky security man who has a side gig teaching teen boys how to process their emotions in healthy ways. If I remember correctly, there is no biphobia in this book, so I recommend it as a sign of the world we aim to create!
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib
Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia exist everywhere, but there is a special kind of pain that comes from growing up in a culture that doesn’t even acknowledge your existence. Habib’s memoir describes her journey coming out as a queer woman after her Muslim family moves from Pakistan to Canada. Although she leaves her faith for awhile, ultimately she finds a community of queer Muslims and uses her photography talents to show the world the faces of others just like her.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Sometimes the best antidote to transphobia is a novella set in a future where trans folks are a normal and accepted part of society. Dex is a non-binary tea monk, which means they bike their tiny house from city to city, making tea for people and listening to their problems. When they find they want something more, they venture into the wilds, where they meet Mosscap, a robot who wants to understand humans. This is a cozy, sweet read where in the future, humans made all the right choices. May life imitate art!
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune
Queer families are a beautiful support system in the face of discrimination, and this adorable novel takes the concept quite literally. Linus is sent to inspect an orphanage designed for dangerous children, by which I mean a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Their ostracization reads as queer, but it doesn’t stop there: Linus finds love with the man who runs the orphanage before his job assignment is complete, throwing everything he thought about his life into sweet disarray.
What books would you add to my list? Leave a comment and let me know!
Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!