From memoirs to novels to cultural critiques, these books delve into trans women’s experiences proving that womanhood has endless possibilities.
It’s Women’s History Month, and at Lambda Legal, we’d like to make space to feature the voices of transgender women authors. Transgender women will always be a vital part of the LGBTQI+ community and the world. We are grateful for their unique perspective, tenacity, lived experiences, and continued contributions to our collective liberation.
At a time when we’re fighting back against a seemingly incessant onslaught of bills attacking the right of transgender people, and especially transgender youth, to exist, we feel it’s urgent to uplift the stories of this vibrant and diverse community. Because no matter what hateful bills may pass, transgender people have and will always exist.
So, to celebrate the women who impact our history and our lives (and encourage you to expand your home libraries), here are ten books that center trans women’s lives and show how they live, love, survive, and thrive.
Detransition, Baby (2021)
A provocative novel about the messiness of families, even chosen ones, and what happens in the vulnerable and painful corners of womanhood. Torrey Peters fearlessly navigates identity, gender, sex, and relationships in this story that you won’t be able to put down.
Fairest: A Memoir (2020)
A beautiful coming-of-age memoir, Meredith’s story begins as a child with albinism living in the Philippines, growing into a woman in America, and navigating the Ivy League, while exploring the intersections of race, disability, and gender.
I’m Afraid of Men (2018)
Artist Vivek Shraya explores the dangers of the toxic masculinity imposed on her as a child and how gender identity can be reimagined. With raw honesty, Vivek delivers an essential read on the damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia.
Light from Uncommon Stars (2021)
In this work of science fiction, three women are entangled by magic, identity, curses, and hope. One, Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil. Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear. Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four, might catch Shizuka’s heart.
Man Enough to Be a Woman (1995)
Born in rural Georgia in 1947, Jayne County moved to New York City and became part of the ’60s art scene surrounding Andy Warhol’s Factory, working with Warhol, David Bowie, and Derek Jarman. Her story follows the arc of LGBTQI+ liberation in the United States, facing off against police at Stonewall, coming out as a trans woman while touring with her band, and working as an actor, singer, and sex worker.
Redefining Realness (2014)
A modern staple in LGBTQI+ reading lists, Janet Mock’s memoir brought the transgender experience to the mainstream. Not only does the Emmy nominee and Pose producer’s book detail her own story, but it also builds a roadmap for living as one’s most authentic self—openly and proudly.
Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality (2018)
This timely and captivating memoir chronicles Sarah McBride’s life, including the loss of her husband just days after they were married, work as an activist, and the key issues at the forefront of the fight for trans equality. The now Delaware state senator does not hold back, sharing thoughtful, personal stories of her own struggles, the freedom of coming out as trans, and what the future holds for all of us.
Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout (2015)
Laura Jane Grace
When the lead singer of Against Me!, one of modern punk’s most influential bands, came out as transgender in a 2012 Rolling Stone profile, it was the first time Laura Jane Grace finally felt comfortable with her identity. One of “Billboard Magazine’s 100 Greatest Music Books of All-Time,” Grace’s memoir weaves together the band’s history with her own to tell a profoundly insightful story of rock and roll, fame, and identity.
Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution (2008)
Nothing like history to see how we can best move forward. This book covers American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today and expands the conversation around these periods of LGBTQI+ liberation. A good primer for those wanting to learn more about how we got to where we are today.
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (2007)
Julia Serano’s provocative manifesto is a sharp study into how society’s dismissiveness of femininity shapes attitudes towards transgender women, as well as gender and sexuality. As a transgender activist and professional biologist, Serano shares her own experiences and observations—both pre-and post-transition to bridge the gap between biological and social perspectives on gender and debunk society’s common myths and misconceptions about the trans community.