Further Reading: Transgender Soldiers

One year after the Defense Department’s landmark decision to lift its military ban on transgender people, President Trump took to Twitter to announce that he is prohibiting transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity in the U.S. military.” With an estimated 15,000 transgender people currently in service, it’s unknown how his administration intends to implement the policy. As transgender individuals face brutality both on and off the battlefield, one thing’s for sure: we must fight by their sides. The books below, linked to their excerpted Booklist reviews, variously feature trans authors, protagonists, and subjects.

Adult Nonfiction

 “You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!”: And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions about Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People, by Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs

Psychiatrist Erickson-Schroth and psychotherapist Jacobs examine 21 myths and common misconceptions about transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The discussions are sorted into four categories—identity, sex and relationships, health and safety, and history and community. The writing is clear, honest, and sensitive to the transgender population. A timely and worthwhile purchase for libraries as well as middle- and high-school counseling offices, community centers, and places of worship.

Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, by Janet Mock.

In her first memoir, Redefining Realness (2014), television host and transgender rights advocate Mock wrote about growing up poor, multiracial (daughter of a half Native Hawaiian, half Portuguese mother and an African American father from Texas), and trans in Hawaii. In her second memoir, she concentrates on her turbulent twenties, when she worried about being found out. An honest and timely appraisal of what it means to be true to yourself.

Adult Fiction

 Long Black Veil, by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Boylan, who has reaped praise in recent years with memoirs exploring her transgender experience, doesn’t miss a storytelling beat in her first novel as she blends atmospheric elements of a Shirley Jackson–like haunting, a secret-laden murder tale featuring an ensemble cast, and an eye-opening glimpse of the complex choices transgender people face. This crime debut is certain to attract a genre-blurring following.

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab, by Shani Mootoo

As a child, Jonathan had two mothers: his birth mother India and her lover Sid, who vanished without explanation from Jonathan’s life when he was nine. As an adult, Jonathan, by now an unsuccessful writer still living in Canada, becomes determined to locate his lost mother and, through persistence and the Internet, ultimately finds her living in Trinidad. To his amazement, Sid is no longer a woman but, instead, a transgender man named Sydney.

Youth Nonfiction

 Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, by Jazz Jennings

A memoir at the age of 15? Yes, if you happen to be Jazz Jennings, arguably the most well-known trans teen in America and the subject of the reality show I Am Jazz. Though born a boy, Jazz knew from the time she could form a coherent thought that she was a girl. Her story is an important addition to the slender but growing body of transgender literature and belongs in every library.

 Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin

Kuklin’s book profiles six transgender teens in both their own words and the author’s excellent photographs. The result is a strikingly in-depth examination of the sometimes clinical complexities of being transgender, even as Kuklin’s empathy-inducing pictures put a human face on the experience. Speaking with equal impact to both the reader’s heart and mind, Beyond Magenta is highly recommended.

Youth Fiction

 Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity, by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Road trip! Jess and her best friend Chunk are on their way from San Jose to Chicago to crash the second wedding of Jess’ dad (he’s marrying Jess’ mom’s former best friend). Jess, who is transitioning from Jeremy—she’s been taking hormones for seven months—hopes to confront her father, who she regards as transphobic, with the real her. A compelling novel that deserves a place at the forefront of the growing body of literature about transgender teens

 George, by Alex Gino

Ten-year-old George has a secret. Everyone thinks she is a boy, but inside she knows that she is really a girl named Melissa. When her fourth-grade class prepares to mount a dramatic production of Charlotte’s Web, George knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to play the part of Charlotte. Pair this important addition to the slender but growing body of transgender fiction with Ami Polonsky’s Gracefully Grayson (2014).

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About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Editorial Assistant for Books for Youth. She recently graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

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