YA SFF Books with Trans and Non-Binary Characters

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

YA books often deal with themes like coming of age and discovering your identity. It's no surprise that an increasing number include characters who are questioning their gender. There are many well-known examples of books with trans characters and non-binary like Cemetery Boys and Dreadnaught, but we've also got some newer books and indie authors!


 

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas


books with trans characters - Cemetery Boys

Highlights: paranormal, trans main character, trans author, ghosts


A trans boy determined to prove he's a brujo to his Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut.


Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.



Bestowed by the ancient goddess of death, Yadriel and the gifted members of his Latinx community can see spirits: women have the power to heal bodies and souls, while men can release lost spirits to the afterlife. But Yadriel, a trans boy, has never been able to perform the tasks of the brujas - because he is a brujo.


When his cousin suddenly dies, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.


However, the ghost he summons is not his cousin. It's Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves.


Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.


 

Dreadnought by April Daniels


books with trans characters - Dreadnought

Highlights: superhero, trans main character, cyborg


A trans teen is transformed into a superhero in this action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.


Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.


It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.


She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.


 


The Witch King by HE Edgmon


books with non-binary characters - the witch king

Highlights: fantasy, trans main character, queer secondary characters


To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.


Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.


In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.


Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

 

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan Maguire


books with non-binary characters - across the green grass fields

Highlights: portal fantasy, intersex main character, unicorns, centaurs, Chosen One, magical quest

A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire's Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series.


“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”


Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.


When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to "Be Sure" before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.


But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…


A standalone Wayward Children story containing all-new characters, and a great jumping-on point for new readers.



 

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta



Highlights: fantasy, genderfluid main characters, magic

Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she’s a strega—and she aims to keep it that way.


The she meets Cielo—and everything changes.


A strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she’s been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon: the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country’s five controlling families, including Teodora’s father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace.


If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital—not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love.


 

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth



Highlights: urban fantasy, pansexual main character, lesbian main character, gay main character, bisexual main character, genderfluid secondary character

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.


Choose your player.


The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.

A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.

A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.

The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.


For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.


Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?


Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

 

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet


Highlights: fantasy, BIPOC LGBTQIAP+ main and secondary characters

In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the "no-love-interest", found family adventure you’ve been searching for.


Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?


She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.


Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

 

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee



Highlights: dark academia, witches, ghosts, curses, queer romance, lesbian MC, non-binary secondary character, trans author


A dark, twisty thriller about a centuries-old, ivy-covered boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past. The dangerous romance and atmospheric setting makes it a perfect read for fans of dark academia.


The history of Dalloway School lives in the bones it was built on. Five violent deaths in the first ten years of its existence. Sometimes you can still smell the blood on the air.


It wasn’t until Felicity enrolled that she fell in love with the dark. And now she’s back to finish her senior year after the tragic death of her girlfriend. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the five Dalloway students who died there—girls some say were witches.


It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no.


Dalloway’s occult lore is everywhere, and the new girl won’t let Felicity forget it. But when the past begins to invade on the present, Felicity needs to decide where she stands. The soil under her feet is bloody with Dalloway’s history. But so is the present. Is it Dalloway—or is it her?

 

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu


Highlights: YA urban fantasy graphic novel, witches, Chinese-American non-binary MC, queer romance, werewolf

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft. Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any townhome. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.


 

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee


Highlights: epic fantasy, talking dragon, queer romance, non-binary MC

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.


One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.


But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.


What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…


 

Spell Hacker by M. K. England


Highlights: sci-fi, queer mc, nonbinary love interest, heist

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.


 

The Reluctant Witch by Kristen S. Walker



Highlights: urban fantasy, academy, mermaids, lesbian main character, non-binary best friend, queer romance, witches


A young witch who just wants to be invisible. A beautiful mermaid who doesn’t belong. A secret relationship that threatens the entire academy.

Brie only agreed to try the witch academy to make her mother happy. She assumed she would learn Water magic. But when the students were assigned to their Elemental classes, she ended up in Earth. The list of reasons for her to leave the school keeps growing—her roommate is a bully, she doesn’t understand her classes, and everyone judges her for her infamous family name.

Then a beautiful mermaid named Gabriella catches her eye at the beach. Merfolk aren’t allowed in Santa Cruz because they’re dangerous killers, but Gabriella is friendly and kind. She agrees to show Water magic to Brie as long as she keeps their meetings a secret.

Brie lies to everyone about Gabriella, even when her Fae mentor asks her to investigate merfolk. But when the secret relationship strains her friendships, tanks her grades, and threatens her position at the academy, Brie learns that love comes at a high price.

She must choose between her first love and her magical school—or lose everything.


 

Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts by Kristen S. Walker



Highlights: steampunk, magical girl, queer main characters, trans secondary character, non-binary main character in second book, queer romance


A clumsy school girl with the magic of a goddess. Mechanical beasts attacking her friends. Can she become a divine warrior and save the floating city?

Fifteen-year-old Riwenne is bad at school, chronically late, and lost in a daydream, but she has help from her best friend, Nexita—until the two of them get separated. During the mysterious test on Choosing Day, they both wanted to become priestesses, an important job in the sky city. But only Riwenne became a novice, and Nexita was chosen by the engineers. Now she’s on her own for the first time in her life.

When a talking bird tells her that her best friend is under attack, Riwenne faces her worst fear. She must become a divine warrior and save her best friend from mechanical beasts!

As she juggles warrior training and priestess duties, Riwenne can’t let herself get distracted. She must recruit other warriors and lead the quest to find out the mystery behind the mechanical beasts, but most of all, she must follow her heart.

If she trusts the wrong person, she’ll face the gods’ judgment.


 

This article was written by Kristen S. Walker.

Kristen S. Walker is a YA fantasy author and blogger, also known as a book hoarder. Check out more of her work by clicking on any of the covers below.



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