What would the literary canon look like if it were entirely composed of books by queer and trans women and femmes? We asked some of our favorite LGBTQ+ writers, filmmakers, and creatives to curate the ultimate list. Illustrated by Alexandra Citrin.
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“I spend a lot of time thinking about the achievements of trans people in the mainstream, juxtaposed with the lopsided murder rate and acts of violence we experience as a community and individuals. I often wonder if visibility alone is enough. Trap Door brings these thoughts to life in a poetic and beautiful way.” - Peppermint, Drag Artist
“Mock’s path to self-discovery is unique and important for trans women of color, and I highly recommend it. Through her journey, trans women of color could witness the possibilities to not only survive, but to thrive and reach our full potential.” - Jennicet Gutiérrez, Activist
“Machado’s story collection’s most harrowing achievement is that it’s completely undefinable. Is it genre fiction? An examination of the multifaceted experiences of women? An attempt to give voice to the intangibles of passion, loss, memory, and identity? Yes. And that’s just where it begins." — Angela Watercutter, Writer and Critic
“I live in south London, not far from where Sara used to lecture, so her work has always felt close, with an ability to touch and grasp—a quality academic feminist discourse often lacks. This book allows everyone to grasp, wrestle, and digest it, proving yet again that making theory accessible does not have to compromise quality. If anything, it’s quite the opposite.” — Travis Alabanza, Performance Artist
“Before Bette and Tina, there was Mo, Lois, Ginger, Sparrow, and all the dykes of this long-running comic that began chronicling the queer lives of women in 1983. Bechdel’s heroines not only informed my earliest ideas of what it meant to be a queer woman, but they remained my friends for decades.” — Melissa Febos, Writer and Author
“This anthology of Camper’s early works is canonical in many ways. It is anti-racist, it honors femmes and dykes, it is brutally critical of heteronormativity, and it was greeted with horrified gasps by book critics in the ’90s. Like most iconoclasts, Camper was ahead of her time, and lucky for us, we’ve started to catch up.” — Randa Jarrar, Writer and Author
“Tea’s book is essentially a queer adult starter kit, gently walking the reader through everything from Saturn returns, to financial freedom, to the practicality of a skincare routine. Between these life lessons is plenty of personal drama, which, thankfully, Tea spills liberally.” — Amy Virginia Buchanan, Performance Artist and Experience Designer
“Brilliant, funny, and deeply vulnerable, Shraya’s Men is both a moving memoir and rallying cry for a better future. Her insights on the myriad ways the binary oppresses and denigrates are invaluable and resonant. I adore this book.” — Jill Soloway, filmmaker and author
“Nevada is a different kind of queer story. Maria Griffiths—a greasy punk trans woman—is working through her trauma in Star City, Nevada. It’s not pretty, but it’s real. That’s what makes this novel necessary." — Robyn Kanner, Writer and Designer
“Yes, it was adapted into a killer screenplay and beautiful film (Carol), but this is source material worth reading! It was published in 1952 and the prose is gorgeous. And it’s part of our history, babies. Someone please buy me a first edition of this. I’d also recommend the audiobook.” — Cameron Esposito, Comedian