• Miranda L. Galbreath, MA, MA, LPC

Let's talk about my favorite Trans Novels!

Updated: Jun 17

Why talk about trans novels? Because exposure to a variety of voices and life experiences is important. White, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied male authors have had their day….their centuries, really, in the sun. Their books form the basis of our culture. It’s time to expand our idea of who has something meaningful to say to include folks from all kinds of groups, and to show folks from all kinds of groups that they can and should have a voice. And that folks from all kinds of groups should be front and center as the main characters in our stories. It matters that we all have the opportunity to see folks we can relate to in successful roles and as the lead characters in stories. It matters that we ALL see ALL KINDS OF FOLKS in all kinds of roles (like successful authors), and care about the stories of folks of all kinds of life experiences.

The books I’ve chosen to share are all books I’ve read and loved within the past year, and they are ALL available at the Erie County Public Library (ECPL), so if any of these peak your interest, get yourself to the library. Some of these novels are written by trans or gender-nonconforming authors, and some feature trans or gender-nonconforming main characters. Some have both!

The first book I’m going to share is The Story of Silence by Alex Myers. Based on a French legend, this book takes place in a magical, medieval fairy tale world full of secrets, royalty, and dragons! When a girl child is born to a royal family that prohibits women from inheriting, she is spirited away to be hidden and raised as a boy in an attempt to preserve the family land and legacy. This book is the story of that child, Silence, and their journey of discovery to follow their dreams of becoming a knight while also pursuing love and trying to understand who they truly are.

If you like this book, Alex Myers has a second book, Revolutionary, ALSO available at the ECPL, historical fiction which takes place during the American Revolution and also features a brave hero who refuses to be limited by gender roles.

Next up, Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen. If you dig fantasy, historical fiction, monsters and westerns, this book is for you! The first novel in a super-awesome series, this story follows the journey of a hero who started life with nothing, doesn’t seem to belong anywhere, and unexpectedly discovers they have the ability to see and fight monsters. Our hero sets off to understand and use their newfound ability and pursue their destiny, while also grappling on multiple levels with who they truly are, who they love, and how to just plain keep from getting killed by monsters!

If you like this series, Lila Bowen also writes as Delilah Dawson, and has written lots of supercool books that will immerse you in all sorts of magical worlds full of all sorts of diverse characters and adventures!

Let’s move on to Sorrowland, by Rivers Solomon. To start, let me say, I am in love with all of faer novels, which all describe the experiences of folks on the margins, trying to survive while struggling to come to terms with who they are in a world that doesn’t understand them or treat them with much kindness. In Sorrowland, we’re immersed in the experiences of Vern, a pregnant woman who flees an abusive marriage and a religious cult, hunted as she flees. As she fights for her freedom, her body begins to undergo strange, unexplainable changes and Vern struggles to protect her new family while metamorphosizing into something she doesn’t understand. The secrets of the religious compound she fled are slowly revealed, and the violent American that allowed such a compound to exist is exposed.

Again, if you love this book, Rivers Solomon has several other novels that are equally as amazing!

If you like your novels gritty, filthy, raw, sexy and unsparing of all the unpleasant details, Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt is for you! Felker Martin explores what happens in a world where everyone with significant amounts of testosterone (primarily cisgender men) are overtaken by a virus that transforms them into mindless, hideous, violent beasts hell-bent on rape and murder. As cisgender women rise into the new world power, trans folks are left in an impossible position, especially when a group of trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFS) rise to power and make it their mission to eliminate trans folks under the guise that they too are a danger to the survival of the species. Our heroes, trans and otherwise, will do anything, and I mean anything to survive and protect those they love. Read it and find out how it all turns out!

Next up, the novel trans author K. M. Szpara describes as “really gay.” This book really knocked my socks off. I never wanted it to end, and I can’t wait to read it again! In this sci fi parable about love, sex, money, and abuses of power, we explore a world in which the wealthy and powerful can purchase their fellow humans to serve them as “Dociles,” basically human zombies whose zombification is accomplished the taking of “Dociline,” a medication advertised to the masses as a harmless way to make what is basically modern-day slavery painless. When our hero, Elisha, accepts a term as a Docile in a desperate attempt to pay his family’s debt, he challenges the entire system by refusing to take Dociline while he is under contract to serve the ultra-rich family behind Dociline and the entire corrupt system of power. Will he survive his servitude without losing his sanity? Can an impoverished man who came from nothing bring down the system that runs the entire culture? Find out!

And finally, our last book. I originally intended to present my top five recent favorites, but after getting all of my library books home, I realized I never did get any better at Math after getting that C in third grade, because I’d brought home six books! So, here it is, our bonus sixth book: Imago by the amazing Octavia Butler. Before I say anything about this book, let me just tell you that if you haven’t read any Octavia Butler, you are missing OUT. She is amazing, and she has gifted the world with lots of books, which are described as Afrofuturistic and generally push at our totally tear apart our ideas about power, sex, sexuality, gender, and what it means to be human.

Imago is actually the third in Butler’s Xenogenesis series, a postapocalyptic trilogy about what happens when an alien species interbreeds with humans in an effort to preserve the human species after rescuing the remaining survivors of a devastating nuclear war. I chose this novel for my list because the humans’ experiences with this alien species completely overturn human ideas about sex, gender, pleasure, and intimacy in relationships. Those humans who can adapt to these changes survive to live an amazingly fulfilling life….those who can’t adapt, die. I love how Butler basically hands us the message that being open to experience, change and diversity is a crucial survival tool, and being stuck in the past with rigid ideas about how people and relationships “should” be is a fast track to the end. Choose your own adventure, folks.

Allrighty, that’s all for now, folks! There are plenty more awesome novels where these came from, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing more with you in the future. Get yourself to your local library and get reading! Happy reading and happy Pride, friends!

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