5 Kids' Books About Trans Issues To Read Right Now

By Kerri Jarema

Another day in Trump's America, another horrifying law. Yesterday it was announced that Trump would be reversing transgender protections from the Obama administration, most notably removing protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. We don't have to tell you why this is a very scary turn of events for trans kids and teens. Being asked to use a restroom of the opposite gender would be an uncomfortable experience for anyone, but for transgender individuals it can actually be dangerous. Expecting to be treated in a way that is consistent with your gender identity is a right that everyone should be afforded.

Clearly, Trump and his administration need to learn a thing or two about being a trans ally. And since he seems so woefully ignorant on the subject, we suggest he start with some children's books. Authors have been writing trans characters for children for years, hoping to explain, simply, what it means to be transgender and what the experience is like for trans kids; and also showing trans kids they can be the heroes of their own stories. When children are more open-minded, more accepting, and more willing to learn about people who are different from themselves than our own president, we've clearly got a serious problem. Others have reported that Trump isn't much of a reader, but here are some of our suggestions for him anyway.


'George' by Alex Gino

Alex Gino's book follows George, a fourth grader who dreams of playing Charlotte, the female spider, rather than Wilbur, the male pig, in her school's production of Charlotte's Web. George auditions for the part by reciting Charlotte's lines to her teacher, who thinks that George is playing a joke on her. While initially upset, George refuses to participate in the play but volunteers for stage crew. After, George comes out as transgender to her best friend Kelly, and in the process becoming known by her preferred name — Melissa — the two devise a plan for her to play Charlotte during the evening performance of Charlotte's Web. This is a sweet story that teaches the reader what it means to be transgender in the simplest terms.

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'Gracefully Grayson' by Ami Polonsky

Alone at home, 12-year-old Grayson Sender is immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine. This modern classic is a moving, beautifully written story of strength of spirit and the power of acceptance.

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'Lily and Dunkin' by Donna Gephart

This dual narrative follows Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change. This important narrative gives voice to two important topics with heart.

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'Wandering Son, Vol. 1' by Takako Shimura and Matt Thorn

Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki are in the fifth grade. They have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Book One introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi's secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders, with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men. Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino's journey with affection, sensitivity, humor, and grace for a sophisticated work of literary manga translated by Matt Thorn.

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'When The Moon Was Ours' by by Anna-Marie McLemore

This magical realism story follows best friends Miel and Sam (a trans boy) who are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. This atmospheric, mystical love story is a diverse, beautiful look at kids who are "different" and how amazing that can be.

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