2021 has meant spending a lot of time at home, whether it was social distancing, pitch blackness outside at 4pm, or hiding from 40+ degrees. For me, some of that time was spent reading, and upon looking through my Goodreads list of books, I realized that this year especially I read lots of books by trans authors.
Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jean Plante
This was probably the most exciting discovery this year! A beautiful story about two trans women and a fictional TV show that connects them, gorgeously written. This one certainly didn’t get enough attention and I hope people will get their hands on a copy if they can.
Pass With Care: Memoirs by Cooper Lee Bombardier
I’m a big fan of Cooper, who’s just a lovely human being and generous writing teacher. His essay-style memoir takes us from the trans cultures of San Francisco in the 90’s on a blazing, often painful journey through growing into the person you always wanted to be, but didn’t always know how to find.
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
It took me a long time to pick up this classic, because the story around it is that it’s a harrowing read – which is true, but it’s also one of beauty and of a history that gets easily forgotten. It is also probably the best book I’ve ever read about labor and why unions are so important in protecting workers.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
If you heard about one “trans novel” in 2021, it was probably this one, as it got a lot of publicity and was a bestseller. I’m here to tell you that the hype is real. Clearly written for a trans audience, yet describing an experience that feels very universal, this book (hopefully) will keep changing a lot of cis people’s minds about what trans women’s lives are like.
We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics edited by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel
If you prefer your poetry to be like a chain of daisies, this book is not for you. If, however, you prefer your poetry like a chainsaw ripping through walls of societal bullsh*t, you should read this one. Collecting a vast array of established as well as new poets (from Canada and US) who take their politics as serious as their poetics, this one is going to be one for the ages.
She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya
I read this one for a gay book club I was part of. Having read Shraya’s later fiction, I was thoroughly swept away by one of her first publications, a tender story full of longing, combining mythology with romance and self-discovery.
Future Feeling by Joss Lake
If Torrey Peters was the go-to for white trans women, Joss Lake’s book was the one for trans masculine people this year. In what feels like a loving spoof both of trans male cultures as well as what our world will look like in ten years, the goal is the journey in this sometimes meandering, but always fun plot.
Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton
“What if Brian Wilson had been a trans woman?” Who would have thought there was a book in this strange sounding premise. Part homage to bands like The Beach Boys and their music’s continued reach to people today, part imagining of gender feelings in a time where that often seemed impossible, this surprised me constantly with its depth of emotion, making me grieve alongside the protagonists.
Growing Up Trans edited by Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry, Trans America by Barry Reay, Stonewall by Martin Duberman
Okay, the first one is cheating, as I have a chapter in it, but it’s still the only book by and about trans youth available and a great resource. The other two are written by cis scholars, and will have language in it already considered outdated, but both really do a good job of breaking down trans history and the complicated relationships trans people have with cis society.