Youth Book Corner: Trans Day of Visibility

We observe March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to raise awareness and celebrate the successes of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, many of whom are protagonists of inspiring books for youth published in recent years. Our Outreach Coordinator, Leena Desai, recommends some of these books.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea
Written by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrated by Kai Yun Ching & Wai-Yant Li

Themes of self-acceptance and unconditional love resonate across this gorgeous picture book by one of Canada’s leading LGBTQ+ voices, Kai Cheng Thom. We are told of a child named Miu Lan who can change into any shape and can decide whether they want to be a boy or a girl, a bird or a fish, a flower or a shooting star. It is the child’s loving mother that gives them the confidence to be whomever they want, but this freedom does not extend to the school where fitting in is important and finding likeminded friends is difficult. But because their mother instills in them the belief that they can be anything “from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea,” Miu Lan finds the wings to fly far and wide. For children who do not conform to gender binaries, this is a book filled with affirmations that they need to hear and be instilled with. Grades Preschool-2

A Boy Named Queen
Written by Sara Cassidy

Evelyn is used to a regimented life dictated by her strict mother. She eats the same breakfast every day and buys the same shoes from the same store every year. But then in fifth grade, a boy named Queen joins her class and turns Evelyn’s worldview upside-down. Queen has wavy hair, sports shiny gym shorts and wears several beaded necklaces. When kids in the class start picking on Queen, he ignores them and carries on proudly wearing his identity on his sleeve. Over the course of their friendship, Queen helps Evelyn come out of her shell and shows her how one can live a free and unapologetic life on one’s own terms. Important life-lessons about acceptance, tolerance, and self-expression are conveyed through Queen and Evelyn’s tender friendship. Grades 3-6 

Written and illustrated by Sophie Labelle

Montreal-born, Finland-based cartoonist and author Sophie Labelle mines from her own experiences as a transgender woman in this story about a gender non-conforming trans kid named Ciel trying to navigate high school life. Ciel is a confident, up-and-coming content creator on YouTube, whose partner-in-crime is their best friend Stephie, a trans girl. Ciel and Stephie like and do the same things, until Stephie announces that they want to keep their gender identity under wraps in high school. The book follows Ciel as they try to come to terms with this new aspect of their friendship with Stephie, while at the same time keeping the spark of their long-distance relationship with their boyfriend alive. In Ciel, Labelle offers us an empowered, evolved, and sensitive protagonist who can serve as a model and an inspiration for young people still discovering their own sense of self. Grades 4-8     


Leena Desai