By Adi Berardini
To celebrate and recognize Trans Awareness Week from November 13-November 19, Femme Art Review highlighted some books written by talented transgender and non-binary authors and/or books with trans themes for what we deemed as “Trans Lit Week.” By sharing the books of transgender and non-binary authors, we hope it will help increase awareness of trans stories and experiences. Ranging from fiction to poetry anthologies, read on to see why so many of our favourite books are written by trans authors.
by Kama La Mackerel
The newly released poetry collection ZOM-FAM is by Kama La Mackerel, who you may recognize as a Montreal-based Mauritian-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist, educator, writer, and community-arts facilitator. Kama La Mackerel mythologizes a queer/trans narrative of and for their home island, Mauritius. Composed of expansive lyric poems, ZOM-FAM (meaning “man-woman” or “transgender” in Mauritian Kreol) is a voyage into the coming of age of a gender exploring child growing up in the 80s and 90s on the plantation island, as they seek vocabularies for loving and honouring their queer/trans self, amidst the legacy of colonial silences. (Adapted summary from Metonymy Press).
Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian)
by Hazel Jane Plante
Vancouver-based writer Hazel Jane Plante’s debut novel Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) explores a queer trans woman’s unrequited love for her straight trans friend who passed away. Acting as a love letter and homage, the story is interspersed with encyclopedia entries about a fictional TV show set on an isolated island. The experimental form functions at once as a manual for how pop culture can help soothe and mend us and as an exploration of oft-overlooked sources of pleasure. Heartbreakingly beautiful, Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) reveals with distinct detail the level of loss she experiences in losing her close friend and love, Vivian. (Adapted summary from Metonymy Press).
Girls Mans Up
By M-E Girard
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard is a young adult novel that provides ground-breaking representation of a gender non-conforming teen named Pen. Dealing with not fitting the box of womanhood defined by her strict Portuguese family and a friendship with the local cool kid turned sour, Pen learns how to assert herself against people who don’t have her best interests in mind.
by Ivan Coyote
Rebent Sinner is Ivan Coyote’s take on the patriarchy and the political through personal stories of what it means to be trans and non-binary today. Coyote traces back a heartbreaking queer history while combatting those who try to misgender them and deny their existence. Through these relatable and often humorous stories, Coyote also paves a path for younger trans folk to realize that there is hope and a way out of the darkness. Coyote is a gifted storyteller who we recommend seeing speak live in person if you get the chance! (Adapted summary from Arsenal Pulp Press).
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir
by Kai Cheng Thom
In Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom, a lyrical and winding sort-of-true coming of age story, a young girl runs away from an oppressive city called Gloom where the sky is always grey in search of love and sisterhood. She finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce group, the protagonist becomes the woman she has always dreamed of being.
When one of their number is brutally murdered, she joins her sisters in forming a vigilante gang to fight back against the transphobes, violent johns, and cops that stalk the Street of Miracles. But when things go terribly wrong, she must find the truth within herself in order to stop the violence and discover what it really means to grow up and find your family.(Adapted summary from Metonymy Press).
it was never going to be okay
by jaye simpson
jaye simpson is an Oji-Cree non-binary trans woman writer who lives in Vancouver. Their debut book, it was never going to be okay, is a touching collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay breaks down years of silence in simpson’s debut collection of poetry:
i am five
my sisters are saying boy
i do not know what the word means but―
i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b,
the hollowness of the o, the blade of y
(text via Nightwood Editions)
We hope you enjoy this selection and make sure to check out these books this Holiday season!