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Cries For Help > YA Books Dealing with Gender Identity

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message 1: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments So, I'm about to embark on a PhD (hopefully) focusing on transgender and gender dysphoria in young adult fiction. I'll be writing a YA novel myself alongside the critical essay, so a wide knowledge of the genre would be helpful. I don't just want to look at YA books dealing specifically with transgender/gender dysphoria, however - I'd also like to look at ones dealing with gender identity, however that's interpreted, or with characters who have to live as/disguise themselves as the opposite gender. Books with sterotypical gender roles, or atypical gender roles would also be appreciated. :)

One thing: Please, no ebooks. I need to be able to cite page references and I've noticed a lot of ebooks don't have these.

Here are a list of books I have found so far (mainly focused on the main topic):

Luna by Julie Anne Peters
I Am J by Cris Beam
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
The Butterfly and the Flame by Dana De Young
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Choir Boy by Charlie Anders
Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. I would like to be as thorough as possible. :) <3


message 2: by Theo (new)

Theo | 159 comments Ash by Malinda Lo is a Cinderella retelling with the twist that she falls for the king's huntress instead of the prince. The fairy godmother character is male as well in this telling, so some atypical gender roles.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart is about a teenage girl who attends a prestigious boarding school with an all-male secret society that she is interested in infiltrating. It deals a good bit with traditional male/female roles and her resistance to them.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce is a fantasy about a girl who wants to become a knight, so she dresses as a boy and switches places with her twin brother so she can train. It's the first in a series, but I've only read this one so far.

The Great Alta saga (Sister Light, Sister Dark, White Jenna, and The One-Armed Queen) by Jane Yolen takes place in a fantasy world where women live in isolated communities and train to be warriors. There is interesting background of the gender equality of the native inhabitants of the land versus the male superiority model of continental invaders. The wars in the books are known as the Gender Wars.


message 3: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments I've read Alanna: The First Adventure - good idea, thank you! :)

I haven't heard of or read any of the others, but I'll definitely check them out! :)

Thanks so much! :)


message 4: by Riona (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments I was going to suggest Annabel, but I see it's already on your list! I don't think it's specifically marketed as YA (I don't know how firm that criteria is), but it would definitely appeal/is appropriate for that crowd.

The Knife of Never Letting Go has some interesting things to say about gender too.


message 5: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Yeah, it might not be entirely marketed for YA but it's quite a unique book in the subject matter it covers so I'm looking at it for that reason. :)

The Knife of Never Letting Go does? Really? That's quite cool, I've been meaning to read that for a while! :) Thanks!


message 6: by Riona (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments Emy wrote: "Yeah, it might not be entirely marketed for YA but it's quite a unique book in the subject matter it covers so I'm looking at it for that reason. :)

The Knife of Never Letting Go does? Really? Tha..."


Yeah, the society is TKONLG is entirely male so it's an interesting study of gender, especially seeing how the younger generation has almost a kind of mythology about women, since they've never met any and only have the older men's gripes to go on. I didn't love the book, but that was probably my favorite aspect and you will probably find some relevant bits.


message 7: by Riona (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments Also, I've only read the first book, so I don't know if those themes continue throughout the series.


message 8: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Riona wrote: "Emy wrote: "
Yeah, the society is TKONLG is entirely male so it's an interesting study of gender, especially seeing how the younger generation has almost a kind of mythology about women, since they've never met any and only have the older men's gripes to go on. I didn't love the book, but that was probably my favorite aspect and you will probably find some relevant bits. "


Ah, that's really interesting! I love societies with interesting gender dynamics! :D I'll definitely have to give it a look (although the cynic in me has many many questions about breeding...). Annoyingly, I saw this whole trilogy in The Works for £7.99 the other day and didn't pick it up. :/


message 9: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa (ms_alyssa) Jeanette WintersonWritten on the Body

Although not YA, Written on the Body, for me, was more of a mind-blowing experience. Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit tends to be the more popular option for readers drawn to the gender discussion, but since I read Written on the Body first, it holds a special place in my heart.

I read it in college for an English Lit course and as a class, we had a lot of fun trying to determine the gender of the main character. It has a racy moment or two, but compared to what is on TV nowadays, it seems like nothing.


message 10: by Riona (last edited Jun 15, 2012 10:25PM) (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments Emy wrote: "I love societies with interesting gender dynamics! :D I'll definitely have to give it a look (although the cynic in me has many many questions about breeding...)."

I don't think this is a spoiler cause it's established pretty early on as I recall, but I'll mark it anyway in case you're one of those people who likes to go into a book with as little knowledge of the plot as possible:

(view spoiler)


message 11: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Alyssa wrote: "Although not YA, Written on the Body, for me, was more of a mind-blowing experience. Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit tends to be the more popular option for readers drawn to the gender discussion, but since I read Written on the Body first, it holds a special place in my heart."

I've read Written on the Body when I was studying metafiction. :D I really enjoyed it. It hadn't occured to me that it could be useful for this, thanks!

Riona said: "I don't think this is a spoiler cause it's established pretty early on as I recall, but I'll mark it anyway in case you're one of those people who likes to go into a book with as little knowledge of the plot as possible:

Spoiler Removed"


I usually avoid spoilers, but I don't think that counted as one. :) It makes a lot more sense now, haha, thanks! :)


message 12: by Cat (new)

Cat Girl Goddess #9: Nine Stories has two short stories "Blue" and "Winnie and Cubby" That deal with uncommon gender identities, along with other topics such as death of a parent. Blue has a somewhat fantasy bent, so I don't know if that works for what you need, but they're nice and short and as a teenager, I enjoyed them.


message 13: by Riona (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments I just picked up XVI from the library, and while I haven't started it yet the synopsis sounds like it would fit! I'll report back once I've read it.


message 14: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Cat wrote: "Girl Goddess #9: Nine Stories has two short stories "Blue" and "Winnie and Cubby" That deal with uncommon gender identities, along with other topics such as death of a parent. Blue has a somewhat f..."

Fantasy is fine. Thanks for the heads up - sounds really useful! :) (Short is always nice, too, I have so much to read!)

Riona wrote: "I just picked up XVI from the library, and while I haven't started it yet the synopsis sounds like it would fit! I'll report back once I've read it."

Oo, thank you!! I went and read the synopsis and it sounds interesting! Let me know how it turns out. :)


message 15: by Avery (new)

Avery Delany (redrocketpanda) Ahh, I'm happy this thread exists :3 Also, Middlesex does also, and it's a fantastic book.

I personally find it quite a shame that there aren't more trans characters, particularly in books where it isn't the main theme :/


message 16: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Jack wrote: "I personally find it quite a shame that there aren't more trans characters, particularly in books where it isn't the main theme :/"

I think authors are scared to tackle the issue, especially when it's not the main theme. In a world where people are so easily offended, I don't blame them. :/ I think they're worried because trans characters could so easily turn into stereotypes (a bit like gay characters, actually) if you don't do a lot of research and remember that they're complex people too!


message 17: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
The NetGalley ARC I'm reading at the moment is a YA dystopian story: Blood Zero Sky. It features a gay cross-dressing female lead, although I'm not sure how deeply it really explores those issues in particular.

I'm just over halfway through, so I'll let you know more when I get through it!


message 18: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Thank you, Ruby! I find these issues fascinating, so I'll be really interested to see how much they are tackled. Especially with a cross-dressing female lead - that's really unusual. :)


message 19: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Well I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I suspect the writer is really just using that character aspect as an obvious example of how people who are "different" are persecuted in this dystopian society. But I'll post a review when I'm done :)


message 20: by Riona (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 457 comments Ruby wrote: "Well I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I suspect the writer is really just using that character aspect as an obvious example of how people who are "different" are persecuted in this dystopian so..."

I'll be curious to read that review when you're done!

I just realized I forgot to report back on XVI. Um, NOT recommended. I mean I suppose it said some things about gender and identity, but all of those things were archaic anti-feminist stereotypes that enraged me. Full review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 21: by Emy (new)

Emy | 34 comments Ruby: Cool, I'll look forward to your review! :) I hope your suspicions are unfounded, but I doubt they are. XD

Riona: Okay, haha. Thanks for the feedback. I'll have a read of your review! :)


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