Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Queer Booklist: Part 2

Books for Older Kids and Teens

This is the next part of my series on queer-friendly books for kids and parents from my recent presentation "Raising Gender-Conscious Freethinkers." 
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
This story is about Logan, a high school senior who falls in love with a trans girl, Sage, and then has to deal with his transphobia and fears of being "gay".  I really enjoyed this book because it offered me a unique perspective on what might be dealing with internally while dating a trans woman, but ultimately the ending leaves a bad taste in my mouth because Sage decides to de-transition.  My other issue is that I've yet to find a book that's from a trans girl's perspective and is not just "about" a trans girl.
Awkward and Definition by Ariel Schrag
This is one of my favorite suggestions because it's an autobiographical graphic novel written by a teenager as she was living it.  Too often authors look back on their teenage years with the filter of an adult and so it might not come across as authentic.  The coolest thing about Ariel Schrag's graphic novel is the slow realization of her sexuality unfolds in real time.  So it includes the warts and all of coming to terms with being queer and is absolutely relatable, funny, and with artwork that improves with each page to boot.
Butch is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman
Contrary to what the title might make you believe, this book is about gender norms in general and what it means to go against those in a society that often rigidly enforces them.  While it might be considered a "must have" for any butch teenager, it really unpacks gender in an accessible way that everyone can enjoy.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Another graphic novel and this one is much darker than many of my suggestions, but it deals with a lot of serious issues.  Not only does it chronicles Alison Bechdel's journey in discovering and accepting her sexuality, but it also confronts gender norms, staying in the closet, and even suicide.  And yet, despite all of that and the setting of her family's funeral home, the story will make you laugh more often than it makes you cry.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
The fact that I adore Kate Bornstein should be pretty obvious considering that I have not one, not two, but three different books of hers in this list.  One of the first books about trans people I read that wasn't a tired autobiography was Kate's original "Gender Outlaws".  This is a new, updated version that collaborates S. Bear Bergman and celebrates the accomplishments of trans folk as well as challenging gender norms.  It's fun and enjoyable and has a little bit of everything for everyone.
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein
It's no secret that suicide is a serious problem among teenagers, especially LGBTQ teenagers.  But rather than tackle this issue in the typical way that has been done by so many others before, Kate Bornstein challenges the reader to turn that inner anger outward and to use it to change the world.  Some of her 101 alternatives range anywhere from the sarcastic "Moisturize!" to the radical "Shatter some family values".  Instead of telling LGBT teens "It Gets Better", we should be telling them, "We can and will make it better, and that 'we' includes you!"

I Am J by Chris Beam
While I continue to search for a book from a trans girl's perspective, my search for a book from a trans boy's perspective has ended.  I Am J deals with a range of issues that trans folk deal with such as homelessness, dating, hormone therapy, unaccepting parents, and a whole lot more.  Every time I lend this book to a trans boy at my center I have to buy a new one because they can't let go of something that is so validating of their experience.

It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris
If you've been keeping score, you already know how much I love this series of non-judgmental books about sexuality and the human body.  It's Perfectly Normal deals with puberty, sexuality, masturbation, contraception, family planning, sexual health, internet safety, abortion, STIs and more.  And it discusses all of these in a normalizing way without an agenda.  The title says it all.  The only complaint I have is that it does not address gender diversity or trans folk, but it's so close to perfect in every other way that I can forgive Robie H. Harris. 

Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Once again, we have a book about a trans girl but not from her perspective.  That being said, I do still enjoy this book and it could be extremely helpful the siblings of trans teens.  Luna is about Regan, who's big sibling is a closeted trans girl named Luna, and how Regan and Luna deal with the process of hiding in the closet and dealing with extremely unsupportive parents.  Some of the problems I have with this book are that, yet again, a trans girl can't catch a break and it has bad ending.  Also, there seem to be a few stereotypes that are, most likely unknowingly, reinforced.  I would still recommend this book as long as it wasn't the only book about trans folk in your library.
My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein
It's my last recommendation of Kate Bornstein, I swear!  If you buy no other book about gender norms for your teen, than let it be this one.  Not only does it include thought provoking essays about gender norms, but it challenges the reader to deconstruct the norms that they follow.  It leads the reader through their own journey about gender and gives them permission to question everything and challenge things that don't work for you.  It's fun, it's sarcastic, it's rebellious, everything a young hell-raising freethinking teenager could want.

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