Read Harder

Read Harder Task #17: Read a Memoir Written by Someone Who is Trans or Nonbinary

While there’s never a bad time to read a memoir by a trans or nonbinary writer, this year feels like a particularily good time to elevate these stories. As book challenges in schools and libraries continue, many which specifically target books by LGBTQIA+ authors, it’s even more important to read and share stories by people from across the gender spectrum.

There are many (many!) potential books to choose for this particular challenge topic. This list covers a range of familiar and unfamiliar titles that discuss gender from many different perspectives. It also includes some that have been frequent targets in book challenges across the country. Once you’ve read and loved a title, be sure to share it!

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

book cover all boys aren't blue by george m. johnson

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This work of young adult nonfiction is a series of personal essays about growing up as Black and queer, and the complexity of those intersecting identities. In interviews, Johnson has said they wrote the book as a way to help other teens see themselves in stories in a way they didn’t as a kid. They write about their relationship with their grandmother, early sexual relationships, joining a fraternity in college, and more.

book cover fairest by meredith talusan

Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan

Meredith Talusan was born with albinism in a rural village in the Philippines. Raised by a grandmother, Talusan eventually came to the United States on an academic scholarship to Harvard – providing a strong education, but also a complicated relationship with race, class, and sexuality. After college, Talusan transitioned and came out as a woman and continued on a career as an artist and activist. This memoir explores love, identity, gender, and more.

book cover real queer america by samantha allen

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen

A decade ago, Samantha Allen was a Mormon missionary. At the time of writing this book, she was a reporter for the Daily Beast and married to a woman. In it, Allen heads out on a cross-country trip to experience “something gay every day” in places where queer communities full of people opting to stay where they’re from instead of fleeing to potentially friendlier territory. I love the way Allen is able to tell stories about people from all walks of life, emphasizing tales of chosen families trying to make the world a better place.

book cover unicorn by amrou al kadhi

Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen by Amrou Al-Kadhi

There’s just so much to be excited about in this memoir about growing from “a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family.” In the book, they write about how a teenage obsession with marine biology helped illuminate their nonbinary gender identity, discovering the power of drag in college, learning to understand Islam with a queer lens, and finding a way back to family with this new perspective.

book cover I'm afraid of men by vivek shraya

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

In this book, trans artist Vivek Shraya explores “how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl.” As a child, Shaya had to learn to perform masculinity to survive, while as an adult she must push in other ways to be recognized as feminine. Shraya explores what the cumulative effect of that misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia has been on her, and offers ways that we can cherish and celebrate what makes us different.

Gender Queer cover

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

This autobiographical comic is about Maia Kobabe’s journey of self-identity and an attempt to explain what it means to be nonbinary and asexual. Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, writes about early crushes, coming out, connecting with friends, and more. The result is a book that is both a guide to gender identity and a personal story about what it means to be a nonbinary person.

book cover tomorrow will be different by sarah mcbride

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride

In 2016, Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention, a giant leap on her journey as a transgender activist. In this memoir, Sarah shares how she came out to her family, friends, and community and how that led to her political activism. The memoir is also a love story about Sarah’s relationship with her first husband, Andy, who passed away from cancer in 2014 shortly after they were married. This is a good book for people newer to reading about the issues transgender people face and who want to understand those discussions better.

book cover something that may shock and discredit you by daniel lavery

Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery

More essays! This final book on the list is a collection of witty essays about gender and identity through the lens of pop culture, with everything from The Addams Family to Captain Kirk to Lord Byron. It’s also a book that talks about what it is like to transition genders and the complexities of family can bring to that experience. If you loved The Toast, grab this one.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out these posts on Book Riot featuring other trans and nonbinary authors. They’re not exclusively memoirs, but will give you some other authors to consider:

Click here for the full Read Harder 2022 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.