TRANS BOOK MONTH: Corey Alexander recommends “A Baker’s Dozen of Stories Centering Non-Binary Characters”

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Throughout the month of July, we want to highlight and invite discussion about transgender literature and representation in media. We’ve invited some absolutely incredible authors to the site to discuss trans topics that mean the most to them, and today we’re thrilled to have Corey Alexander joining us!

A Baker’s Dozen of Stories Centering Non-Binary Characters
 By Corey Alexander

I came out as a non-binary trans person over 20 years ago. The mid 90s were a time when finding stories about non-binary characters was extremely rare. Part of being non-binary in a society that is deeply binarily gendered is that often the world tells you that you aren’t real. That you don’t exist. That at best they might humor you in your imaginary gender, but they know the truth. Having people like me in a book, seemed like proof that I could eventually have a future where people in my life would understand, see, and respect back my gender. Books with non-binary characters were nourishment that I desperately needed, was starving for. In 2017, I wouldn’t say we have abundance, but there is much more nourishment out there.

I’ve got a baker’s dozen for you, of stories centering non-binary people, including a range of fiction and  creative non-fiction, from flash fiction to novel-length works. Stories that mean a lot to me, that were resonant for me at different times in my life, and are resonant for me now. I’ve grouped them by theme and noted publication year. My hope is that you will find stories that are meaningful to you. The majority of these were written by non-binary authors, with a few exceptions.

Non-binary centered stories

These are stories that feel non-binary to their very core, like they are not bringing a cis lens or framework to the story, are written especially for non-binary readers, centering us.

A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power by Rose Lemberg (2017) (Free: Part 1. Part 2. Audio.) This is a high fantasy novella told from the point of view of the Old Royal, the bigender ruler of a desert city who runs a festival where people declare their genders and are helped to magically transition. It’s deeply enby centered. Most of the significant characters are enby. It offers a universe where non-binary gender is not only accepted but celebrated, and non-binary characters are in positions of power. It’s also a story that centers supermages, is deeply kinky, and very much about consent and sadism. I adore this book with all my heart and feel intensely seen and held by it.

TW: BDSM (edge play, pain play), trauma history, magical battle

A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (2015) is a romance novel told from the point of view of Tom, a genderqueer billionaire who has been mostly closeted about being genderqueer, and who falls hard for a younger trans man student who is the first person to celebrate and honor his gender. It feels deeply trans and non-binary centered, which I discuss at length in this essay. I fell hard for Cin right along with Tom, loved his grumpiness, his certainty about the importance of boundaries & consent, and the way he really saw Tom. I especially loved the way sex was negotiated and portrayed in the story.

TW: misgendering, sex

Fairy Tales

There is something about reading fairy tales centering non-binary characters that heals childhood wounds for me, is nourishing in a way that no other story can be.

“The Rivers Children” by Shweta Narayan (2011) (Free. In Alphabet of Embers.) This is a gorgeously written fairy tale with all genderfluid characters. It’s about a genderfluid prince falling for and marrying a genderfluid river, and their genderfluid children. I read it to my genderqueer ex when she was in the hospital, and it was the perfect comforting story at a scary time.

TW: misgendering

“The Virtues of Magpies” by Yoon Ha Lee (2015) (Free. In The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales.) This is a flash fiction fairy tale about loyalty, tricksters, being misunderstood, and being who you are, centering an un-named non-binary youth. It’s beautifully written, funny and it warms my heart.

TW: War

First Reads

These are the first books I read that had enby characters. They are definitely products of their time in terms of language about gender. They are dear to my heart, some of my first glimpses in a mirror.

Stone Butch Blues (free PDF of 20th anniversary edition) by Leslie Feinberg (1993) is a semi-autobiographical novel that traces the life of a working class stone butch who medically transitioned partly to survive economic difficulties, and then went off hormones and lived as a non-binary trans person. This is a book about a long and winding gender journey. Jess falls in love, struggles with isolation and stoneness, and has a trauma recovery arc that culminates in hope and connection.

TW: child abuse, sexual assault, police violence, bashing, trauma, misgendering, sex

S/he by Minnie Bruce Pratt (1995) is a book of short memoirish linked vignettes about a femme and her experience of gender, the last half of which are about her relationship with a non-binary trans butch. Gorgeous precise writing that rides the line between memoir and poetry and packs a punch in a very small space. In a lot of ways, this book feels like it’s doing call and response with Stone Butch Blues.

TW: misogyny, bashing, murder, misgendering, sex

Imago by Octavia Butler (1989) is the third novel in a trilogy imagining an alien colonization of Earth that includes aliens procreating with humans in a five part sexual and romantic partnership including an Oankali third gender ooloi partner. Imago is told from the point of view of the first ooloi child of this kind of partnership, Jodahs.  Jodahs lives in exile for most of the book, feels very much alone, and goes through an intense depression, before finding a reason to have hope and reconnect with others. Jodahs is very fluid in its gender, in a way that’s quite responsive to people and context. I identified quite strongly with Jodahs. It’s a very intense read that evokes so many feelings every time I reread (about once a year).

TW: colonization, sexual assault, physical violence, depression, suicidality, ableism, sex

Centering Desire

These are stories about non-binary folks claiming and reaching for desire that honors them in the fullness of themselves.

Seen” by Kris Ripper (2016) is a kinky erotica short story centering Adrian, a genderqueer bottom, in the aftermath of a scene where ze got misgendered, finding a new play partner who will see and honor zir gender. It reminds me of Patrick Califia’s erotica in how it describes SM, places kink in the context of queer community, and illuminates character.

TW: pain play, misgendering

Virgins in Time” by Neve Be (2015) is a creative non-fiction piece about reclaiming youth and sexuality as a disabled non-binary queer person of color through doing roleplay about being teenage virgins. It is gorgeously written, kicks my ass, and blows me away.

TW: roleplay, sex, references ableism, racism, violence, eating disorders, trauma

Holding the hard stuff

These are stories centering non-binary characters grappling with depression and grief, ones that hold those realities beautifully.

“How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” by A. Merc Rustad (2015) (Free text and audio. In So You Want to Be a Robot.) This is a short story in experimental form centering an autistic non-binary asexual person named Tesla who is both in love with a robot and deeply identifies as a robot. It contains intense and beautiful depiction of depression, robot rescue adventure, sweet romance with a robot, and queer chosen family.

TW: depression, suicidality

“A Complex Filament of Light” by S. Qiouyi Lu (2017) (Free: Text. Audio.) This is a gorgeous, evocative and gentle short story centering a non-binary character who is depressed and mourning the death of a relative. It has a lovely and healing cathartic arc, and is one of the best examples of incidental non-binary rep I have ever read.

TW: depression, suicidality

Epic Tales

These are stories centering enbies having adventures, of wide and sweeping scale.

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (2017) is a YA fantasy novel centering the genderfluid lone survivor of genocide bent on taking revenge for the destruction of their people by becoming the trusted assassin to the queen. I appreciated the way Sal’s genderfluidity is presented in an incidental way. There is a romance arc, but the central action is focused on winning the trials to become the assassin (which are a bit like The Hunger Games).

TW: murder, genocide, trauma, misgendering

“The Need for Overwhelming Sensation” by Bogi Takács (2015) (Free: Text. Story Notes) This is a space opera story centering a non-binary main character Iryu (who I read as autistic) whose dominant is also enby. It contains intrigue, battles,  and cheerful BDSM including using pain play to power a spaceship, and a lovely D/s dynamic.

TW: ant-kink antagonist, misgendering, physical violence, BDSM (pain play, D/s)

I hope you found something to add to your TBR. My next enby read is An Unsuitable Heir by KJ Charles, a historical romance with an acrobat enby love interest!

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Corey Alexander is an Oakland-based autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer, educator and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time recommending books on Twitter and writes under the nom de plume Xan West. Their collection Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica, was published in 2015 by Go Deeper Press. Corey creates book recommendation lists and blogs about trans representation in literature, kink, fat politics, queerness, disability, and writing at

TRANS BOOK MONTH: Trans Stories and the Woman Disguised as a Man Trope, by EE Ottoman

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As part of Trans Book Month on Just Love, in which we are highlighting trans literature, we have invited several authors to share some of their thoughts with us. Please welcome EE Ottoman here today…

Trans Stories and the Woman Disguised as a Man Trope

I have a love hate relationship with the cross-dressing trope that pops up in a lot of romantic storytelling. Specifically the narrative of the woman who disguises herself as a man to go on adventures or otherwise enjoys some aspect of male privilege, and along the way falls in love. It’s a trope found in everything from historical romance novels, historical fiction, classic movies, television shows, romantic comedies, and fantasy novels.

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Trans Book Month: Trans + Ace-spectrum Characters in Fiction

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Over the weekend we got a message from one of our readers, Will, asking for some help finding books to read:

Hi there! Do you happen to know of any books/stories with a trans MC (nb or genderqueer included) who is on the ace spectrum? I’ve been looking for ages and have not had a ton of luck finding that particular intersection.

I’m ashamed to admit that I could only think of one or two books off the top of my head. But with the help of some excellent folks on Twitter, I’m excited to share with you a list of trans + ace-spectrum books for your reading pleasure!

  • “Assassins: Nemesis” by Erica Cameron. YA. Has an MC that’s intersex and NB + ace-spectrum. (Goodreads)
  • “The Traitor’s Tunnel” by CM Spivey. Fantasy. Character is pan-romantic asexual and trans. (Goodreads)
  • “Chamelon Moon” by RoAnna Sylver. SciFi. Both trans & ace rep, as well as an NB-ace character, and an agender-ace character. (Goodreads)
  • “Swansea” by Elliott Junkyard (Sweet Revenge #1). SFF. Airship pirates, serial, one of the MCs is grey-ace and trans! (Goodreads)
  • “Terminal” by AM Blaushild. Urban Fantasy. Online web serial (FREE!!) with an NB, asexual, and grey-romantic protagonist. (Website / AO3)
  • “Iwunen Intersteller Investigations” by Bogi Takács. SciFi. Webseries, two NB leads who are demisexual. (Website)
  • “No More Heroes” by Michelle Kan. Urban Fantasy. AroAce, genderfluid MC, POC (Cantonese) (Goodreads)
  • “Mr. March Names the Stars” by Rivka Aarons-Hughes. Contemporary. Ace MC, and ace-trans love interest. (Goodreads)
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Can you think of any others that we can add to this list? Drop us a comment and let us know! (Goodreads/website links welcome.)

Trans Book Month: Interview with Alex Gino, author of “George”

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Trans Book Month on Just Love is all about elevating and celebrating trans authors and trans narratives. Today we’re thrilled to have  Alex Gino on the blog. Alex is the author George, a middle grade novel about a transgender girl!

Thanks for taking some time this morning to chat with me, I’m really, really excited about this!

Can you start by talking about why you wanted to write George? What was the motivation behind that?

So when I was growing up, there were no trans characters in children’s fiction—there weren’t really gay characters in children’s fiction. Those times I encountered transness, it was a joke, or an insult, or some other negative thing. And I’m sure that affected how I grew up, not seeing things that I was connecting with, and being told whatever I was saying wasn’t a thing, and not having any proof that anyone else was like me. Which is not everyone’s trans story, but it is mine. And as an adult I went to the children’s section, because I’ve always loved children’s books, and there still weren’t any books with trans characters. There were some gay characters by 2000 or so, but there still weren’t any books with trans characters.

So I said, “This is the book I wish I had.”

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TRANS BOOK MONTH: By Trans For Trans, by B R Sanders

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As part of Trans Book Month on Just Love, in which we are highlighting trans literature, we have invited several authors to share some of their thoughts with us. Please welcome B R Sanders who’s kicking off these guest posts today…

By Trans For Trans

This is a famous quote from Toni Morrison that has guided my writing career:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I love this quote. It is a guiding star, particularly for those of us writers who are marginalized. One of the main reasons I started writing fiction was precisely because I so rarely saw representations of people like myself in the genres I most often read: I wanted to read more fantasy and science fiction about transgender people. And I wanted the trans people in these stories to just be people. I wanted to read about trans people living full lives. I wanted to read about them making choices and struggling with things beyond their trans identity.

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TRANS BOOK MONTH: Mel Recommends Books with Trans Characters

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Throughout the month of July, the Just Love team is super excited to highlight trans books and elevate trans writers! Our goal for the month is to provide a forum for discussion of trans lit topics, ranging from publishing trans stories, to consent and harmful tropes within those stories. There are some absolutely phenomenal authors contributing their voices this month, to which you can check out the schedule here!

Today, we’re recommending books with trans main characters to you. Most of them we already read and reviewed, but there are some upcoming books on the list as well.  We separated them by genre and added some tags to help you find a book to your liking.

(ETA: Books in lila are recommendations by commenters on this post.)
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Just Love Presents: TRANS BOOK MONTH!

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Throughout the month of July, the Just Love team is super excited to highlight trans books and elevate trans writers! Our goal for the month is to provide a forum for discussion of trans lit topics, ranging from publishing trans stories, to consent and harmful tropes within those stories. There are some absolutely phenomenal authors contributing their voices this month, so check out the schedule below!

Edit: Updated 7/10 to amend schedule.


We hope you’ll stop back in throughout July to read these highly-anticipated posts, and to learn about and discuss trans lit with us!

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