This Friday, PEN America acknowledges International Transgender Day of Visibility and celebrates transgender authors and illustrators and creatives. 

In national efforts to ban books and restrict content with LGBTQ+ characters and themes, stories featuring transgender individuals and characters are commonly challenged and banned, making up about 9% of banned books. This is particularly telling given the underrepresentation of trans stories in publishing and in classroom and school libraries. 

Today, and every day after, these stories deserve a place on the shelf where they can be read by those seeking to see themselves and to understand others. We push back against the removal of books that center trans stories and authors and share a list of frequently banned books with trans stories in the hopes that we can bring visibility to these books as we continue the fight to freely read them in schools and libraries! 

Below are some commonly banned books of trans stories:

1. Melissa (Previously Published as George), by Alex Gino

“When people look at Melissa, they think they see a boy named George. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.”

2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender and Nonbinary Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin 

“Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference.”

3. The Breakaways, by Cathy G. Johnson 

“The Breakaways from Cathy G. Johnson is a raw, and beautifully honest graphic novel that looks into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world.”

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

“Jazz Jennings–named one of The 25 Most Influential Teens of the year by Time–shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.”

5. Almost Perfect, by Brian Katcher

“This winner of the first Stonewall Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature will make you marvel at the beauty of human connection and the irrepressible nature of love.”

6. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel,  Jazz Jennings and  Shelagh McNicholas

“The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.”

7. Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard, by Alex Bertie 

“A brave firsthand account of online personality Alex Bertie’s life, struggles, and victories as a transgender teen, as well as a groundbreaking guide for transitioning teens.”

8. Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart 

“For readers who enjoyed Wonder and Counting by 7’s, award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling story about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder.”

9. Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas 

“A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as groundbreaking.”

10. If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo 

“Meredith Russo’s award-winning, big-hearted novel If I Was Your Girl is about being seen for who you really are, with a love story you can’t help but root for!”

11. When Aidan Became a Brother, by Kyle Lukoff and Kaylani Juanita 

“This sweet picture book celebrates the changes in a transgender boy’s life, from his initial coming-out to becoming a big brother.”

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