International Transgender Day of Visibility

Each year, March 31st is celebrated as the International Transgender Day of Visibility. This is a day to honor the experiences and contributions of transgender and gender nonconforming people, and to recognize the discrimination they face. We’ve collected a bunch of children’s and YA books that reflect and celebrate a variety of transgender and gender nonconforming people. Find a collection of related titles on OverDrive here.

The Human Rights Campaign Organization’s Welcoming Schools Project has a wealth of curriculum resources for teachers and parents. For further reading, I highly recommend their booklist: Great Diverse Children's Books with Transgender, Non-Binary and Gender Expansive Children. Another great resource is the awards list from the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Award, specifically the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children's & Young Adult Literature Award.

Trove:

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker
Grades 4-6
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“A young trans girl solves a mystery and finds her people. Zenobia July hasn't had an easy go of it: Her mom died when she was little, and her religious, conservative dad has just died in what might be a hunting accident but was probably suicide. She's shipped off to Portland, Maine, into the loving arms of her aunts Phil and Lu, an eccentric but competent hippie/academic lesbian couple. Zenobia makes friends with a gang of misfits fairly easily, but she still doesn't want anyone to know that she's trans (even after new friend Elijah is outed and her main confidant, Arli, genderqueer with vo/ven/veir pronouns, cringingly tries to convince Zenobia to be a better ally). Zenobia's hacker skills come in handy when a mysterious troll posts transphobic and anti-Muslim memes to the school's website, and her new friendships are put to various tests. Zenobia is an endearing white trans girl heroine, with an accessible amount of angst and anxiety that never tips over into titillating tragedy. Her community of weirdos and queers (including her aunts' drag-queen friend Sprink) offers desperately needed representation.” –Kirkus Reviews

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke
Grades 4-6
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“In a few months, Liv effects a major change in his new middle school's antiquated dress code while simultaneously acquiring the courage to come out as transgender. From the start, readers are drawn into the story by 11-year-old Liv's believable, humor-tinged narration: ‘Little brothers can always be counted on to reach peak levels of annoying at exactly the wrong moment. It must be part of their job description.' Throughout, Liv's voice is convincing and a pleasure to read. Readers learn that, over the years, Liv has become increasingly less tolerant of being assigned female pronouns and the name ‘Olivia.' Being required to wear a skirt daily at middle school is the last straw. He–still ‘she' to others–works to convince the school's new principal that students should have some choice in clothing, moving from an unsuccessful conversation to an unpromising petition to a brilliantly orchestrated media event. Along the way, he contends with a mean-spirited bully and the loss of a former friend even as he makes new, more loyal friends and wrestles with his own shortcomings. His coming-out to friend Jacob is realistically brief and an enormous relief. Liv's two moms add further dimension to a tale that unabashedly affirms the importance of accepting and celebrating differences.” –Kirkus Reviews

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Ellison & Teshika Silver
Grades 1-3
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) and Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) played an important role in the fight for LGBTQ rights. Johnson, a Black trans woman and self-identified drag queen, befriended Rivera, a Puerto Rican American trans woman, on Halloween in 1963. Eventually, they founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group that helped homeless trans girls and provided them with a sense of community and safety. The pair worked to gain support in the larger gay rights movement. The text incorporates these facts into the narrative, but the central account of the Stonewall uprising is a simplified version of events. In additional biographical and historical information at the end of the book, Ellison and Silver acknowledge there are many accounts of the Stonewall Rebellion.” –School Library Journal

George by Alex Gino
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“George, a fourth-grader who knows she is a girl, despite appearances, begins to tell her secret. The word ‘transgender' is used midway through, but far more work is done by the simple choice to tell George's story using third-person narration and the pronouns ‘she' and ‘her.' Readers then cringe as much as George herself when bullies mock her or-perhaps worse-when well-meaning friends and family reassure her with sentiments like “I know you'll turn into a fine young man.” Each year the fourth-graders at George's school perform a dramatized version of Charlotte's Web, the essentials of which are lovingly recapped (and tear-inducing ending revealed) for readers unfamiliar with the tale. George becomes convinced that if she plays Charlotte, her mom will finally see her as a girl. George's struggles are presented with a light, age-appropriate, and hopeful touch. The responses she gets when she begins to confide in those closest to her are at times unexpected but perfectly true-to-character-most notably her crude older brother's supportive observation that, ‘No offense, but you don't make a very good boy.' A coda to the Charlotte's Web story, in which George presents herself as a girl for the first time, is deeply moving in its simplicity and joy. Warm, funny, and inspiring.” –Kirkus Reviews

I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings, Jessica Herthel & Shelagh McNicholas
Grades K-3
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“An autobiographical picture book describes trans-youth activist Jazz Jennings' story of embracing and asserting her transgender identity. Both the title and the opening text proclaims, ‘I am Jazz!' The book goes on to detail Jazz's various interests and tastes, which follow traditionally feminine gender norms. But as Jazz goes on to explain, she has ‘a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way!' Although the realistic watercolor illustrations consistently display only happy faces in these beginning pages, the text recounts her family's struggle to understand her early-childhood assertion of femininity: ‘At first my family was confused. They'd always thought of me as a boy.' Jazz recalls her pain when compelled to wear ‘boy clothes' in public. ‘Pretending I was a boy felt like telling a lie.' Her parents' efforts to understand prompt them to meet with a doctor who introduces the word ‘transgender,' which enables the family's powerful affirmation: ‘We understand now. Be who you are. We love you no matter what.' The story balances this acceptance with honest acknowledgement of others' ongoing confusion and intermittent cruelty, and it briefly addresses Jazz's exclusion from girls' soccer in her state. Ultimately, Jazz's self-acceptance, bolstered by her family's support and advocacy, acts as a beacon for readers, trans- and cisgender alike. An empowering, timely story with the power to help readers proclaim, in the words of Jazz's parents, ‘We understand now.'” –Kirkus Reviews

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Preschool-Grade 2
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“Riding home on the subway, Julián is transfixed by three mermaids—voluptuous and self-possessed, with flowing tresses of black, pink, and red, and wearing aqua fishtail costumes (the book is printed on a Kraft-like paper, so the colors seem to literally glow). ‘Julián loves mermaids,' writes debut author-illustrator Love, and her protagonist falls into a reverie: he’s under the sea, and amid a dazzling school of fish, he sprouts a radiant orange fishtail and waist-length curly hair. While Abuela takes a bath, Julián takes matters into his own hands. He strips down to his underpants, paints his lips purple, fashions a fishtail costume from curtains, and creates a headdress from ferns and flowers. He is, in a word, fabulous. Love lets an anxious beat pass before Abuela takes Julián by the hand, leading him to what some readers may recognize as the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. ‘Like you, mijo,' says Abuela. ‘Let’s join them.' Love’s deep empathy for her characters and her keen-eyed observations of urban life come together in a story of love, understanding, and embracing the mermaid within us all.” –Publisher’s Weekly

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff & Kaylani Juanita
Grades K-3
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“A transgender boy anticipates his new job as a big brother by helping his parents prepare for his baby sibling's arrival. Aidan ‘felt trapped' in his old name, clothes, and room before he told his parents ‘what he knew about himself.' Some girls never wore dresses, ‘but Aidan didn't feel like any kind of girl' because he was ‘another kind of boy.' With his parents' support, he embraces his identity and takes on a new, important role, becoming a big brother. More than anything, he wants the baby to feel loved and understood. This picture book sets a new standard of excellence in transgender representation by centering the feelings of Aidan, a biracial (black and South Asian) transgender boy. Juanita's (Ta-Da!, 2018) digital illustrations have the look of ink and watercolor, and they bring the love in Aidan's family to life.” –Kirkus Reviews

My Rainbow by DeShanna Neal, Trinity Neal & Art Twink
Preschool-Grade 3
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“In their #OwnVoices picture book debut, mother-daughter duo and transgender rights advocates DeShanna and Trinity Neal center a Black transgender girl looking for hair that suits her gender expression. Inspired by the younger coauthor, protagonist Trinity’s gender ‘was part of what made her a masterpiece, just like her autism and her Black skin.' Trinity feels a keen desire for long hair like that on the dolls she shares with nonbinary sibling Hyperion, despite hating ‘how it made her itchy when it was growing out.' With inspiration from sibling Lucien, their mom sets out to create the perfect multicolored wig for Trinity—one that doesn’t trigger the girl’s sensitivities and that aligns with her ‘already perfect' natural curls. Artist Twink’s inviting use of color highlights the family’s warm home and the bright rainbow wig—an object that makes Trinity feel like a more authentic version of herself: ‘It’s me, Mom. My hair has finally come!' A joyful family story that emphasizes the importance of listening and loving people for who they are. –Publisher’s Weekly

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Grades 5-6
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“In this sweet and thoughtful debut, an introverted sixth grader begins to come into her own as a transgender girl. Grayson was orphaned in preschool and lives with her aunt and uncle in Chicago. She's becoming more and more aware of a nagging feeling that she should be living as a girl, despite being male-assigned, and on a daring whim decides to audition for the part of Persephone in the school play. She has a supportive teacher and a new friend, but also has to contend with school bullies and disapproving adults. The writing is clear and effortless, with a straightforward plot and likable characters. Grayson is a charming narrator who balances uncertainty with clarity, bravery with anxiety.” –School Library Journal

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya & Rajni Perera
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“A young boy, curious about his ‘Ammi's dot…a bright and pretty spot,' innocently asks, ‘Why do you wear that dot?/What's so special about that spot?' His mother crouches to eye level so he can touch her forehead as she explains, ‘It's not a dot… It's not a spot, it's a bindi!' As for the why, her simple response resonates: ‘My bindi keeps me safe and true.' When the boy receives his own golden bindi – his mother's is red – he connects with generations past and is inspired to embark on a journey of empowered discovery. Indian Canadian musician/filmmaker/writer Shraya (God Loves Hair) makes her picture book debut with gentle rhymes and warm whimsy, amplified by Toronto artist Perara's richly hued illustrations. The author, a transgender woman, deftly explores difference and self-acceptance, the subversion of gender expectations, and the power of ‘making sure I don't hide/Everything I am inside.' While acknowledging the bindi's significance to the boy's own family, Shraya seems to purposefully avoid discussing its historical/religious meaning or the possibility of cultural appropriation. VERDICT Imparting an important lesson on inclusivity and individuality, this multicultural, intergenerational story of young agency is a timely acquisition for all libraries.” –School Library Journal

Edge:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin's death. Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he's grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can't locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he's a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin's lost spirit.” –Kirkus Reviews

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Grades 8 and up
OverDrive; Hoopla; Library Catalog
“In an emotionally complex story about finding acceptance and redefining family, 18-year-old Ben is rejected by their parents when they come out as nonbinary. They’re taken in by their older sister, Hannah, who was also driven out by their conservative and judgmental parents 10 years earlier…. Debut author Deaver portrays Ben’s reaction to the difficult situation, including panic attacks and anxiety, with care and empathy, and readers will be filled with joy and hope as Ben begins to grow toward self-acceptance.” –Publisher's Weekly

Dreadnought by April Daniels
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Hoopla
Library Catalog
“Danny's having a moment to herself when superfamous superhero Dreadnought drops out of the sky and dies in her arms—but not before passing her his powers. The powers transform her body, so her girlhood—once a total secret—is now visually impossible to hide. Guilt and elation jostle for prime position in her head as she deals with getting her dream body and massive power she can't yet control. She's taken to meet Dreadnought's colleagues (some welcoming, some not) in the Legion Pacifica and gets some answers to burning questions. But when the supervillain that killed her predecessor shows her intentions to bring destruction on humanity, Danny has to make decisions she thought she'd have more time to work out.” –Kirkus Reviews

Birthday by Meredith Russo
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“Stonewall Award winner Russo (If I Was Your Girl) tackles teen love, heartbreak, sexuality, and gender identity in this novel told over the course of six years through the alternating voices of transgender girl Morgan and cisgender boy Eric, two childhood best friends who share the same birthday.” –Publisher’s Weekly

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“New kid Pony sees cheerleader Georgia and experiences an instant connection. Georgia feels the same spark, but they each have their secrets. Pony is transgender and hoping for a fresh start in a school where no one knows his past. Georgia hides behind fanciful stories to mask the pain of her mother leaving and the pressures of maintaining popularity. The struggle to fit in, cruel pranks, toxic masculinity, and parental pressures all play a part in this coming-of-age tale based in an affluent Texas high school.” –School Library Journal

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“Black, queer, and trans Felix explores love, friendship, and possibly retribution in this powerful #OwnVoices story of identity and self-worth. Seventeen-year-old Felix Love hopes the summer art program he's attending will help raise his grades and increase his chances of getting a full scholarship to attend Brown. Surrounded by a diverse and mostly queer group of artist friends, Felix navigates complicated relationships, including transphobia and harassment from his own friends, from his loving but still learning father, and from an anonymous bully.” –School Library Journal

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Grades 7 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“In the city of Lucille, the angels have dedicated their lives to getting rid of all monsters. Jam has never experienced monstrous dangers—that is, until she removes a creature from one of her mother’s paintings. ‘Pet' has come to her world to hunt the monster that lurks in the house of Jam’s best friend, Redemption. But Redemption’s house is full of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, none of whom look or act like monsters. Together Jam and Redemption must root out the evil that lurks far too close as they navigate the differences between revenge and justice.” –VOYA

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
“Extended interviews with six very different transgender, genderqueer, and intersex young adults allow these youth to tell their stories in their own words. Author-interviewer-photographer Kuklin interjects only briefly with questions or explanations, so that the voices of these youth-alternately proud and fearful, defiant and subdued, thoughtful and exuberant-shine through.” –School Library Journal

Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings
Grades 6 and up
OverDrive
Library Catalog
“For as long as she can remember, Jazz Jennings has known she is female. Even before she could express herself through words, she gravitated to “girly” things, like playing dress up and her sister’s toys. When she finally learned to talk, she was very vocal about the fact that, while she may have been born in a physically male body, she was female on the inside. Luckily for Jazz, she had a very supportive family who accepted her for who she is and embraced the fact that she wanted to live as her true self. Being Jazz is not just a story of a transgender teen, but a story of acceptance, tolerance, and social justice for a whole group of people.” –VOYA

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Kids, Homepage Teens, Kids, Library News, and Teens.

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