8 Fantasy Novels by Trans and Nonbinary Authors
If your favorite fantasy author turned out to be transphobic, it's time to audition a new favorite fantasy author
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Thank goodness the biggest-selling fantasy author of all time hasn’t thrown her lot in with a pack of weirdly genital-obsessed identity police! That would, after all, be an extremely weird choice, given how many great fantasy novels by trans and nonbinary writers you could read instead of giving money to a publicly transphobic billionaire, if there were one of those who was also an author, which again is just unrealistic! A billionaire author, imagine. Anyway, here are a few, in case you are seized with the desire to load up on trans fantasy, just for no reason.
Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars
Good news: There IS a fantasy story set at a high school for wizards, a subgenre that previously did not exist! In Gailey’s fun mystery novel, a non-magical (there is no single word for this and never has been) detective investigates a murder at the elite academy where her sister teaches magic theory.
April Daniels, Dreadnought
Wouldn’t it be great to suddenly, magically have the body you always wanted? Not if you’re a trans teenager who isn’t ready for people to know. That’s what happens to Danny when she unexpectedly gains the powers of the late, beloved superhero Dreadnought. Suddenly she’s very obviously a girl, and not just a girl but a supergirl—and she’s fighting transphobic parents, normal teen problems, and supervillains at the same time.
JY Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven
Akeha and Mokoyo are twins whose mother is the head of a realm in conflict. Mokoyo has visions of the future, but Akeha has a clear understanding of what’s wrong with the world as it is, which drives them to join the rebellion against their mother’s cruel Protectorate—while their sibling stays behind.
Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater
Sitting at the intersection of fantasy and literary fiction, Emezi’s debut novel about a woman inhabited by parasitic gods is simultaneously a work of magical realism and an autofictional account of mental illness.
Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky
In this Nebula-winning star-crossed-lovers story, magic and science are at war in an alternate-universe San Francisco and the scions of each side are old friends who are also falling for each other. The book follows the relationship between talented witch Patricia and tech prodigy Laurence from childhood through adulthood, including a stint for Patricia at a school for magic users (where DO people come up with this stuff!).
Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Red Tree
Caitlín R. Kiernan has been owning dark fantasy since the late ’90s—we had a couple dozen novels and short story collections to choose from here. In this one, a novelist living on an isolated farm becomes obsessed with a tree that’s been rumored to have sinister powers, and may have driven her home’s previous occupant mad.
Kacen Callender, Queen of the Conquered
Sigourney Rose is the heir of the deposed royal family in a country inspired by the U.S. Virgin Islands. She plans to use her supernatural powers—the ability to manipulate people’s minds—to exact vengeance on the colonizers who killed her family and stole her throne, but finds that stronger and more malign magic is standing in her way.
Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett, Meanwhile, Elsewhere
Can’t choose? We hear you. Fortunately, Fitzpatrick and Plett have collected an anthology of genre fiction from other trans authors, so you can experience a full smorgasbord of fantasy (and sci-fi and even zombie) stories that explore alternate-reality ideas of gender.