Image description: a book is laid out so that the pages are fanned out, with two pages folding into each other in the middle to form the shape of a heart.
Hey friends, I’m so excited to bring you this collaborative list of non-fiction books by LGBTQIA+ community members. It’s easier now to find works of literature that center queer narratives, by queer authors, but not as easy as it should be. That’s why Artie and I have teamed up to bring you a fresh list of fantastic queer content! I am especially thrilled to have so many works in this list that center non-binary identities. Here’s to hoping you’ll find something to relate to or learn from, or both! And be sure to visit ArtieCarden’s site for the rest of the list and their other content! (Thanks again Artie for reaching out to me to make this collab happen!) Alrighty, here we go:
Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker: “Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Jules Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged. Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’ – Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum, Judith Butler’s view of gendered behaviour as a performance, the play Wicked, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media. Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.”
Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ+ Culture by Amelia Abraham: “Today, the options and freedoms on offer to LGBTQ+ people living in the West are greater than ever before. But is same-sex marriage, improved media visibility and corporate endorsement all it’s cracked up to be? At what cost does this acceptance come? And who is getting left behind, particularly in parts of the world where LGBTQ+ rights aren’t so advanced? Combining intrepid journalism with her own personal experience, in Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham searches for the answers to these urgent challenges, as well as the broader question of what it means to be queer right now. Join her as she cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world’s biggest drag convention in L.A., marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey’s underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.”
A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt: “The youngest-ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his personal history in a brilliant new essay collection seeking to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be. Drawing on intimate personal experience, A History of My Brief Body is a meditation on grief, joy, love, and sex at the intersection of indigeneity and queerness. Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. Piece by piece, Billy-Ray’s writings invite us to unpack and explore the big and broken world he inhabits every day, in all its complexity and contradiction: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it; first loves and first loves lost; sexual exploration and intimacy; the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.”
I have to mention that this collection of essays has gutted me and hit me at my core in so many glorious ways. Such a profound read, I can’t recommend it enough. There are many poignant and punctuating one-liners too—savor them! Just be sure to be prepared for intense emotions when you start digging into it.
Uncomfortable Labels: My Life As a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale: “In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing, managing socially demanding situations and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect.Charting the ups and downs of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum with searing honesty and humour, this is an empowering, life-affirming read for anyone who’s felt they don’t fit in.”
Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl and Fox Fisher: “Frank, friendly and funny, Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen. Wondering how to come out to your family and friends, what it’s like to go through cross hormonal therapy or how to put on a packer? Trans youth activists Fox and Owl have stepped in to answer everything that trans teens and their families need to know. With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories.”
Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Alex Iantaffi: “Much of society’s thinking operates in a highly rigid and binary manner; something is good or bad, right or wrong, a success or a failure, and so on. Challenging this limited way of thinking, this ground-breaking book looks at how non-binary methods of thought can be applied to all aspects of life, and offer new and greater ways of understanding ourselves and how we relate to others.Using bisexual and non-binary gender experiences as a starting point, this book addresses the key issues with binary thinking regarding our relationships, bodies, emotions, wellbeing and our sense of identity and sets out a range of practices which may help us to think in more non-binary, both/and, or uncertain ways.A truly original and insightful piece, this guide encourages reflection on how we view and understand the world we live in and how we all bend, blur or break society’s binary codes.”
Nonbinary Lives – An Anthology of Intersectional Identities by Jos Twist: “What does it mean to be non-binary in the 21st Century? Our gender identity is impacted by our personal histories; the cultures, communities and countries we are born into; and the places we go and the people we meet. But the representation of contemporary non-binary identities has been limited, until now.Pushing the narrative around non-binary identities further than ever before, this powerful collection of essays represents the breadth of non-binary lives, across the boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, faith and more.Leading non-binary people share stories of their intersecting lives; how it feels to be non-binary and neurodiverse, the challenges of being a non-binary pregnant person, what it means to be non-binary within the Quaker community, the joy of reaching gender euphoria.This thought-provoking anthology shows that there is no right or wrong way to be non-binary.”
Yes, You Are Trans Enough: My Transition from Self-Loathing to Self-Love by Mia Violet: “This is the deeply personal and witty account of growing up as the kid who never fitted in. Transgender blogger Mia Violet reflects on her life and how at 26 she came to finally realise she was ‘trans enough’ to be transgender, after years of knowing she was different but without the language to understand why. From bullying, heartache and a botched coming out attempt, through to counselling, Gender Identity Clinics and acceptance, Mia confronts the ins and outs of transitioning, using her charged personal narrative to explore the most pressing questions in the transgender debate and confront what the media has gotten wrong. An essential read for anyone who has had to fight to be themselves.”
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe: “In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.”
Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics by Rachel Anne Williams: “How do I know I am trans? Is trans feminism real feminism? What is there to say about trans women’s male privilege? This collection of insightful, pithy and passionately argued think pieces from a trans-feminist perspective explores issues surrounding gender, feminism and philosophy and challenges misconceptions about trans identities. The book confronts contentious debates in gender studies to alleviate ongoing tension between feminism and trans women. Split into six sections, this collection covers wider issues, as well as autobiographical experiences, designed to stimulate the reader and encourage them to actively participate.”
Trans Voices: Becoming Who You Are by Declan Henry: “Imagine what it must be like to feel you are a woman ‘trapped’ in a man’s body. Or a man ‘trapped’ in a woman’s body. And what happens if you decide to reject your birth gender and become a trans man or a trans woman? Drawing on over one hundred interviews with individuals, this book is a compilation of the voices of those who have decided to undergo transition – both male-to-female and female-to-male. The book details the diverse experiences and challenges faced by those who transition, exploring a range of topics such as hormone treatments; reassignment surgeries; coming out; sex and sexuality; physical, emotional and mental health; transphobia; discrimination; and hate crime, as well as highlighting the lives of non-binary individuals and those who cross-dress to form a wider understanding of the varied ways in which people experience gender. This powerful book is an ideal introduction to those keen to understand more about contemporary trans issues as well as those questioning their own gender identity.”
Transition Denied: Confronting the Crisis in Trans Healthcare by Jane Fae: “Trans people in the UK currently face widespread prejudice and discrimination, from how they are described in the media to the lack of healthcare support they receive. This institutional bias is illustrated by the tragic case of Synestra de Courcy, who died following neglect and rejection from the NHS, leading her to sex work to fund her transition and dangerous self-medication. Charting Syn’s life from childhood through to her untimely death aged just 23, Jane Fae exposes the gross institutional and societal discrimination trans people experience on a daily basis and its impact on the lives of trans people young and old. Promoting honest discussion and bringing these hidden issues into the light of day, this book is a must read for anyone interested in trans rights, and NHS accountability.”
Trans Power: Own Your Gender by Juno Roche: “‘All those layers of expectation that are thrust upon us; boy, masculine, femme, transgender, sexual, woman, real, are such a weight to carry round. I feel transgressive. I feel hybrid. I feel trans.’ In this radical and emotionally raw book, Juno Roche pushes the boundaries of trans representation by redefining “trans” as an identity with its own power and strength, that goes beyond the gender binary. Through intimate conversations with leading and influential figures in the trans community, such as Kate Bornstein, Travis Alabanza, Josephine Jones, Glamrou and E-J Scott, this book highlights the diversity of trans identities and experiences with regard to love, bodies, sex, race and class, and urges trans people – and the world at large – to embrace a “trans” identity as something that offers empowerment and autonomy. Powerfully written, and with humour and advice throughout, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of gender and how we identify ourselves.”
Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Autism: Voices from Across the Spectrum by Eva A. Mendes: “Bringing together a collection of narratives from those who are on the autism spectrum whilst also identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and/or asexual (LGBTQIA), this book explores the intersection of the two spectrums as well as the diverse experiences that come with it. By providing knowledge and advice based on in-depth research and personal accounts, the narratives will be immensely valuable to teenagers, adults, partners and families. The authors round these stories with a discussion of themes across narratives, and implications for the issues discussed. In the final chapter, the authors reflect on commonly asked questions from a clinical perspective, bringing in relevant research, as well as sharing best-practice tips and considerations that may be helpful for LGBTQIA and ASD teenagers and adults. These may also be used by family members and clinicians when counselling teenagers and adults on the dual spectrum. With each chapter structured around LGBTQIA and autism spectrum identities, Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism highlights the fluidity of gender identity, sexual orientation and neurodiversity and provides a space for people to share their individual experiences.”
I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities by Audre Lorde: “The internationally acclaimed author challenges homophobia as a divisive force, particularly among Black women.”
A reviewer writes: “Originally published in 1985, I Am Your Sister is a short yet insightful essay regarding the homophobia and heterosexism in Black communities and how it is used as a silencing tool to divide and further oppress Black women. This is a critical read for all feminists, anti-racists, and/or LGBTQIA advocates.”
Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in their Own Words by Maxfield Sparrow: “Written by autistic trans people from around the world, this vital and intimate collection of personal essays reveals the struggles and joys of living at the intersection of neurodivergence and gender diversity. Weaving memories, poems and first-person narratives together, these stories showcase experiences of coming out, college and university life, accessing healthcare, physical transition, friendships and relationships, sexuality, pregnancy, parenting, and late life self-discovery, to reveal a rich and varied tapestry of life lived on the spectrums.”
Thanks for taking a look at these great publications! Again, be sure to visit ArtieCarden’s site for the rest of the list!
Disclaimer: “on the spectrum” is generally very disliked in the autistic community, though not everyone abides by that consensus. Identity-first language is preferred, i.e. “autistic person” not “person with autism” or “they’re on the spectrum”.