“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but do! And definitely belong on your radar.
This edition is dedication to YA with trans and/or nonbinary main characters, with the aim of helping readers find books that explore gender identity and can more safely be read in unsafe spaces. Please note that most of these have some potentially triggering content, including transphobia and abuse, so I do encourage reading reviews, if that’s helpful to you. (And please do read the notes below as well.)
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – This absolutely lovely m/f romance steeped in magical realism includes trans boy Sam as one half of the couple.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi – This was a Backlist Book of the Month on the site in 2021, so you can read a lot more about it here. For the sake of this post, I’ll just mention that the protagonist is a trans girl and that’s not in the copy.
I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman – Note: this is only under the gaydar with the British copy; the copy on the version coming out in the US in October 2022 does state that Jimmy is trans. You can get the UK version via Book Depository, Waterstones, or Blackwell’s.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall – Note: This blurb can be read as Sapphic, so do read it carefully and consider your environment, but there’s no visible nod to the fact that the main character is either genderfluid or bigender.
Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp – In this gaming-themed thriller, there are five POVs, one of which belongs to a trans boy and another of which belongs to a nonbinary kid. The copy is 100% thriller-centric with no descriptions of the POVs to be found. (You can also find hidden nonbinary rep in one of the three POVs of Nijkamp’s newest YA thriller, At the End of Everything.)
For a books with gender questioning as a non-central element, check out This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano. (This is also true of And They Lived… by Steven Salvatore, though obviously that book is not under the gaydar. Feels like I should mention it, though, in case this is a thing someone is looking for where it’s not mentioned on the cover.)
Non-queer-specific anthologies are also great resources for hidden trans and/or nonbinary rep. You can find trans stories in:
- His Hideous Heart ed. by Dahlia Adler (“The Murders at the Rue Apartelle, Boracay” by Rin Chupeco)
- That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler (“Some Other Metal” by AR Capetta and Cory McCarthy, “King of the Fairies” by Anna-Marie McLemore, “Shipwrecked” by Mark Oshiro)
- *At Midnight ed. by Dahlia Adler (“Mother’s Mirror” by H.E. Edgmon, “The Littlest Mermaid” by Meredith Russo)
- Meet Cute ed. by Jennifer Armentrout (“Somewhere That’s Green” by Meredith Russo)
- Fools in Love ed. by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos (“Boys Noise” by Mason Deaver)
- Take the Mic ed. by Bethany C. Morrow (“Parker Outside the Box” by Ray Stoeve)