So Transgender Awareness Week has commenced, where do we go from here? Well, the recognition and the work should not stop. Instead of waiting a full year to recognize the strength and adversity of this group of people, we should further educate ourselves on this pressing topic. In addition, we should shine a light on the insightful and powerful stories about/made by transgender authors that normally go unseen.
Let’s Educate Ourselves
I am a cis-heterosexual woman. I will be honest and say that not long ago, I did not know a lot about the transgender community. However, that is not an excuse. Educating yourself on a topic one is not familiar with is essential and necessary. It broadens up the way a person thinks; and they become aware of crucial issues that they have the privilege of not experiencing. Below are two books I found helpful when learning about the transgender community and how I can become a better ally to them:
- Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue by Nicholas Teich
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Trans (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Brynn Tannehill
Supporting Transgender Authors and Their Characters
Having trans author’s writing characters like them gives a novel so much credibility. In addition, it gives those in the community a format to read about someone who they can relate to. It is important to have these outlets because it sheds a light on the trans community, giving the public an authentic interpretation of someone they might not be familiar with.
Below are a few novels by trans authors that represent the transgender community in a raw and genuine way:
- Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith – a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation.
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender – a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – NYT best selling author, Thomas made groundbreaking history with this story about a trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave.
- Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom – sensational, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents’ abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom.
Coming Soon in 2021
The inclusivity of trans characters in books is becoming normalized in the industry. This type of progression is beneficial to the public and to the queer community as a whole. Trans characters will soon become a staple in novels, which could set the foundation for more representation in major media outlets.
Here is a list of some inclusive upcoming books regarding the transgender community:
- Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve (Release Date: April 13, 2021) – A moving YA debut about a trans boy, Dean, finding his voice—and his true self.
- Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (Release Date: April 20, 2021) – A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity.
- Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (Release Date: May 4, 2021) – A swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.
- May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor (Release Date: May 18, 2021) – A contemporary YA debut trans boy enters a battle for the title of Homecoming King with the boy he dumped last summer.
There is more to these books than the stories written on their pages. The power behind these characters and the impact it has on readers is impeccable. It is salient to have transgender characters and authors in the media because it gives them a voice. With these novels, they finally have relatability in their lives. Having a transgender (or even a queer) person, in a form of art is monumental. Overall, having any form of accurate transgender representation in the media is a win nonetheless.
A week of awareness does not make up for decades of invisibility and misrepresentation, it is simply the bare minimum. Yes, celebrating the people of the trans community is enjoyable and important; however, we should not turn a blind eye once the week commences. Their visibility matters and they deserve to finally feel seen.