Trans and Nonbinary Characters in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Trans and nonbinary representation can be hard to come by. Here are seven great trans and nonbinary characters in sci-fi and fantasy.

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Science fiction and fantasy are two genres that let us imagine worlds that are very different from our own. Because of this, they are often the genres that represent minority groups and experiences before any others. While transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming characters are still rare in other genres, there are lots of them in sci-fi and fantasy, especially in young adult books! Here are seven great examples of trans and nonbinary characters in science fiction and fantasy. We hope some of these will make your reading list, for Pride month or any time of year!

1. Silence, from The Story of Silence by Alex Myers


Silence is a character that is hard to define. Their identity shifts throughout the story, and their journey deals with a lot of the same themes as transmasculine people today. However, the setting of The Story of Silence, Arthurian legend, make this a little more complicated. Silence was raised as a boy, but born female, and hidden away because women could not inherit land. When he begins to train as a knight, he is told he is “really a girl”, and begins to grapple with that. This novel is told as a story-within-a-story, one that tells both Silence’s story and the story others put on them. They are a trans character written by a trans author, and it shows.

2. Danny, from Dreadnought by April Daniels


Danny starts her story as a closeted 15-year-old trans girl, who inherits the powers of the superhero Dreadnought. When she does, her body is transformed, and she is forced to both come out and deal with her newfound powers– and responsibility. She has to save the world, and fast, as the original Dreadnought’s murderer threatens her city. Danny deals with transphobic family members and friends, relatable concepts for many trans people. However, she also has a story that isn’t only about her gender, which is crucial for representation too.

3. A, from Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day

A is an interesting character, because they don’t have a gender at all. A is a genderless spirit, who spends every day in a different body of a sixteen-year-old. As A continues to switch bodies, they begin a relationship with Rhiannon, who accepts their story and tries to help. While A might not technically be trans, as they don’t really have a body or a biological sex, their character doesn’t care much about gender. A is a character that nonbinary and genderqueer or genderfluid people might relate to.

4. Peter, from Peter Darling by Austin Chant


Peter in this queer retelling of Peter Pan isn’t exactly the same as the character from the classic novel and movie. In this version of the story, Wendy is who Peter used to be, and he left Neverland behind 10 years ago. When he returns over a decade later, he realizes the magical land was lost without him, including (especially?) his old rival, Captain Hook. This book is a great look at how trans children understand themselves and how that plays into their identities as adults, and the Disney retelling is super interesting. For these reasons, Peter Darling definitely deserves a spot on this list.

5. Khai, from Starless by Jacqueline Carey


Khai has been training practically his entire life to be a protector of the princess Zariya, raised by a mysterious Brotherhood. However, his life gets turned upside down when they reveal he was raised as a boy, but was born female. Throughout Starless, Khai has to grapple with his own identity, while an even larger threat starts rising against his home. As a transmasculine character with a unique story all his own, Khai is a great example of a trans fantasy character.

6. Violet, from Annex by Rich Larson


Violet is one of the only ones left after alien attacks destroy almost everything and capture almost everyone in her world. She steals her hormones from an abandoned pharmacy, and with no adults left to control them, Violet and the other kids create their own society. But they know the invaders won’t stay away for long, and when they return, she realizes they’ve given her strange powers. This story is a great example of representation that doesn’t rely on tropes or only tell a story about gender. Violet is a strong character in her own right, and definitely earns a place on this list.

7. Akeha, from The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang


The book Akeha comes from is interesting, because the characters in The Black Tides of Heaven approach gender very differently from our world. At seventeen, they undergo gender confirmation, where they choose male or female and undergo surgery to confirm this. The main characters, twins Akeha and Mokoya, choose differently, Akeha male and Mokoya female. While both start the story as genderless and could be considered genderqueer, Akeha’s story is more complicated. He chooses male because it is “closer to right”, not exactly right; he also falls in love with a transgender man. Akeha is a character that represents complicated trans stories and shows that trans people don’t need to be straight, or binary, to be accepted.

These characters represent a broad spectrum of trans representation. We can’t wait to see what new and interesting ways writers explore gender in sci-fi and fantasy next! You can find more about LGBT representation in books right here on Bookstr.