Just as the great Bonnie Tyler once sang, “I need a hero!” so too do we. Today, as transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals are under new threats every day it seems, this Pride month feels like a fitting time to celebrate transgender and nonbinary heroes. From princes fighting for their kingdom and acceptance to a teen witch who accidentally summons the wrong ghost, here are six fiction novels star trans and nonbinary heroes.
Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead (Arsenal Pulp Press)
This Lambda Literary Award winning book tells the story of Johnny, “a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer” who makes his living as a sex worker in the big city. When his step-father dies, Johnny must make a week-long journey back to the reservation where he grew up to attend the funeral. Along the way he must face his past, embrace love in many forms, and reconcile who he is with the person he once was.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (Macmillan)
A 2022 Stonewall Book Award winner and Hugo Award finalist, this sci-fi/fantasy adventure introduces readers to Shizuka Satomi, a renowned violinist and teacher whose road to success has been an unusual one. In exchange for her otherworldly talent, Shizuka made a deal with the devil to deliver the souls of seven violin prodigies. With one soul left to exchange, Shizuka meets Katrina Nguyen, a young trans runaway with an extraordinary raw talent for the violin. Add in a charming starship captain and you have a fiction novel filled with trans and queer characters navigating a futuristic world where morals and choices are gray as the February sky.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland (Hachette)
Fans of medieval fantasy will want to check out this novel by Lucy Holland. Set in the kingdom of Dumnonia, three royal siblings must fight against the invading Saxons who threaten their very existence. In a world full of magic and mystery, one of the siblings, Keyne, is also fighting to be recognized as his true self: a man and a prince. With the arrival of a magician named Myrdhin, Kenye is able to come into his own as the world around him and his sisters changes.
Dreadnought by April Daniels (Diversion Books)
Dreadnought is the first in book in the Nemesis series by trans author April Daniels. When the superhero Dreadnought dies right in front of teenager Danny, Danny inherits all of his powers and transforms into her true self. However, there’s not a lot of time to adjust to her new body and the way the world sees her. Between a father who wants to “cure” her and a supervillain terrorizing the city, Danny has to jump into action, whether she’s ready or not.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Macmillan)
Author Aiden Thomas’ debut novel, Cemetery Boys was a smash hit and landed Thomas on the New York Bestsellers List in 2020. Trans teen Yadriel comes from a family of gifted witches but has not been able to fit the mold of the female brujas of his family. After his cousin is murdered, Yadriel attempts to use his magic to free his cousin’s soul, but accidentally summons the ghost of Julian Diaz, a gay high schooler who may have also been murdered. As Yadriel tries to help Julian discover what happened to him, the boys, one alive and one dead, grow closer.
Lord of the Last Heartbeat by May Peterson (Carina Press)
This first book of The Sacred Dark series features a witch mafia, opera and an undead bear shifter. Curious? A combination fantasy and romance, Lord of the Last Heartbeat enchants with its leading characters Mio, the gifted nonbinary singer whose voice is the ultimate truth serum and Rhodry, an immortal shapeshifter. Initially connected through Mio’s desire to escape their mother through death, the relationship between the two magical beings evolves into something much more. Of course, there are battles to fight and secrets to uncover along the way.
What are your favorite books with trans or nonbinary heroes? Let us know at email@example.com.