GS vs STA: Transgender Romance

A stack of blue books with a ladder leaning on it, with the words  Christine sent me the following email, and I confess, I have drawn a total blank in trying to answer her query: 

Can you recommend a well done transgender romance? Not an erotica, but something well-crafted and with well-rounded characters? I'd like to read something that makes me feel all fuzzy happy about the world. 

I wrote back to clarify, and Christine confirmed she was looking for romances with a transgender individual as a hero/heroine of the story. 

I am all in favor of the “fuzzy happy about the world” feeling, but I am genuinely sad that I have no ideas about any quality transgender romances to recommend. So I'm asking for Christine as well as for myself. Do you have any to recommend?

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  1. 1
    Urvashi says:

    Yup, I once read a book called Man Enough by Beth Burnett. It was funny and pretty good, but not an great novel. Above average I would say.

  2. 2

    I reccommend ‘Pearl’ by Kelly Rand http://www.stormmoonpress.com/
    and ‘Portside’ by Elyan Smith http://www.riptidepublishing.c…

    both very gripping stories in their own ways

  3. 3
    LG says:

    Urgh. The closest I can come to a match is a YA book that I remember abandoning because I flipped to the end and realized it probably wasn’t a romance – Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher.

  4. 4
    Kelly Instalove says:

    I read a great novella called “Pearl” by Kelly Rand, from Storm Moon Press. Besides the stunning cover, it’s a great 1920s Prohibition-era historical with amazing characters.

    I think I might need to read it again to find more good things to say about it :-)

  5. 5
    Kelly Instalove says:

    Gah, you beat me to it. And ditto on “Portside” for a ver atmospheric HFN contemporary.

  6. 6
    River says:

    The Girl for Me by Failte.  It’s free at Fictionpress and just wonderful.  http://www.fictionpress.com/s/

  7. 7

    Hawk’s Landing by Carol Lynne and Embrace My Reflection by T.A. Chase are both wonderful. Hawk’s Landing is part of a series but they all work great as stand alone stories so don’t let that stop you!

  8. 8

    Aleks Voinov’s Dark Soul series of 5 novellas has a hero with a very fluid gender identity. Silvio is a seriously dark Mafioso assassin who does find love but none of the relationships in these stories are straightforward pairings http://riptidepublishing.com/t…

    Aleks also has an SF with a shape shifting alien and a disabled hero which plays in the waters of gender fluidity Incursion http://riptidepublishing.com/t…

    Over the Mountain of the Moon by Reiko Morgan is set in medieval Japan http://www.amazon.com/Over-The… I wouldn’t call Tetsuya transgender but again there is definitely a fluid gender characterisation as he shifts from male courtesan to consort

    Eresse writes stories about a world of hermaphrodites with a late medieval technology level. The series is called Chronicles of Ylandre http://eresse21.livejournal.co… lists the books. I bought them on ARE

     

  9. 9
    shortlibrarian says:

    The Last Concubine by Cat Ford is a great transgender historical m/m romance. It features ancient China, a locked harem, a deceitful brother, and a kickass hero(ine) who enjoyed dressing in traditional women clothing.

  10. 10

    Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys by G.R. Richards is wonderful. Originally part of Dreamspinner’s Christmas anthology, you can get the novella separately here http://www.dreamspinnerpress.c…

    The biggest problem in finding transgender romances, because they are out there and they are awesome with a side of sauce, is sellers don’t know how to catalog them. A bit easier for online stores, of course, but they still get lumped with that other mythical creature – bisexual. Gender identity is not sexual orientation. Just sayin.

  11. 11
    Elle says:

    I would NOT recommend Brian Katcher’s Almost Perfect to anyone looking for a happy story. It’s really about how a cisgender high school boy attempts to get over being extremely disturbed that the girl he has a crush on is trans. At one point there’s a trans* bashing, and the girl’s future at the end of the book is unclear (though you know she lives).

  12. 12
    LG says:

    Then it looks like I made a good choice in quitting reading it – thanks for confirming that. I had picked it up expecting a contemporary YA romance, probably an angsty one, but with a happy ending. When I flipped through the book a bit, though, I started having serious doubts about that happy ending and finally just DNFed the book.

  13. 13
    h.vert says:

    Y’all are fabulous!  Every time I visit the site, my reading list grows longer.

  14. 14
    The Fairy Godmother says:

    I followed River’s suggestion and read “The Girl For Me”. It was absolutely adorable and I read it in one sitting so thank you!

  15. 15
    Diremommy says:

    I think LA Witt’s Static could qualify. It’s about a character who can shift between genders, sometimes male, sometimes female. Parents hate this aspect, drug him/her, and have a chip implanted in him/her to keep him/her stuck as a male. And then he has to tell his/her boyfriend, who was clueless. So he/she has to relate in a whole new way to the boyfriend, and the boyfriend has to decide if he can live with this- he fell in love with a woman, who is now stuck as a man. Can love overcome orientation?

  16. 16
    threegoodrats says:

    I LOVED Almost Perfect. But you’re right – there’s romance in it, but it’s not a romance.

  17. 17
    Kalbert405 says:

    I’d try Windows in Time by M. Aedin. One of the main characters is transgendered woman, but due to the era and family pressures she occasionally spends time as a man. It is very much a romance and a good novel overall.

  18. 18
    Kalbert405 says:

    Oh, and buy era I mean it braids two stories together, one a romance in the modern era and one in Hollywood’s golden era, when being queer was a matter of open secrets Rock Hudson style.

  19. 19
    cleo says:

    Since others have mentioned SF/F books, I’ll mention Cecilia Tan’s Magic University series, especially the 4th and final one (The Poet and the Prophecy) – with a few caveats.  It’s a crazysauce series – I gobbled it up, but I also have reservations about it, especially book 3 (there’s non-consensual dream sex in it and not enough consequences for the offender, imo).  The series is a rif on Harry Potter – if Harry Potter went to college in the US, had a lot of sex (both magical and mundane), and lived in a more morally ambiguous world.  It’s not really romance (except for the last book, which does have a satisfying hfn romance), not really erotica (there’s a lot of sex but it’s not that graphic or sexy, imo), it may be triggering to some (both because of the non-consensual dream sex and because one of the main characters was abused as a child), but I’m mentioning it because I enjoyed it. 

    It’s kind of spoiler-y to even recommend it here, but in The Poet and the Prophecy (which is not at all stand alone – you have to read the whole series) the central romance involves a character who identifies as male but is biologically female at night (from sunset to sunrise) and biologically male during the day (because of a magical gender swap spell that partially unraveled).

  20. 20
    cleo says:

    Oooh.  I liked Paper Planes by M. Jules Aedin – I’ll have to try this one.

  21. 21
    Sjcottrell says:

    This one was recommended to me, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.  Two Spirit Ranch, by Jaime Stryker.

    http://www.amazon.com/Two-Spir…

  22. 22
    Tam says:

    I liked ‘Southern Discomfort’ by Rita Mae Brown (where you don’t even find out that the character is biologically male but living as a woman until the last page) but again, it’s not strictly a romance at all.  I did love that character though.

  23. 23
    Faellie says:

    Circle of Change by Laney Cairo is a good transgender romance.  Crossing the Line, also by Laney Cairo, is good as well but less of a romance.

  24. 24
    Rbka says:

    Shadow Man by Melissa Scott. It’s SF with romantic elements and revolves around the gender/sex/orientation issue. It’s also gripping, emotional, and difficult at times. There is some violence, and I don’t remember if any of it is sexual. So, upon written reflection, maybe not what you want, but a beautiful book for other reading needs.

  25. 25
    Kcilibrary says:

    John Irving’s In One Person isn’t a romance, but it’s very transgender positive.
    As is Kathleen Winter’s Annabel, Elizabeth Ruth’s Smoke and Chris Bojhalian’s Transistor Radio.

    Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger is a good YA book featuring a transgender character though I don’t remember if it was a romance.  Ditto with Cris Beam’s I Am J.

  26. 26
    Becky says:

    The Girl for Me was excellent.  (Well, the ending was a little after school special, but still very worth reading.)  Circle of Change by Laney Cairo is very good, too.  It’s also a pagan Inspirational, which I found refreshing.  But it doesn’t proselytize, if that’s something that would make you uncomfortable.  And I really enjoyed Windows in Time by M. Jules Aedin.  Two stories, one past, one present, running in parallel, with a mystery and a ghost.  Pearl by Kelly Rand was very short, which isn’t generally my thing.  But there is a lot of story in that small package, without feeling rushed.  I was quite impressed.

    I haven’t read LA Witt’s Static yet (it’s buried somewhere in my endless TBR pile), but it was a finalist in the Lambda awards this year, in the Transgender Fiction and SF/F/H categories.  Also, as a total Marie Sexton fangirl, I have to mention that the second Oestend book, Saviours of Oestend, reportedly has a trans* storyline.  I haven’t read it yet, but I understand that it’s important to read the first book, Song of Oestend, before reading Saviours.

    And now that I’m thinking about it, Marie also wrote Cinder, a version of the Cinderella story where a boy is magically transformed into a girl so that he can have his dance with the handsome prince.

  27. 27
    Kaetrin says:

    I am SO bookmarking this post – so many recommendations!

  28. 28
    HJ says:

    Becky mentioned the Lambda Awards – I’ve found some good books by looking at their shortlists for several years, and because they have numerous categories you can usually find exactly what you’re looking for.  http://www.lambdaliterary.org/

  29. 29

    https://www.smashwords.com/boo…

    “A life of larceny in a half-wrong body isn’t what Aldin hoped for, but right now it’s all he’s got and he’s making the best of it. When an unwelcome surprise sends him running, his prospects hinge entirely on his wits and an unlikely ally.”

    Finished by CA Young. Clever SF, and a HFN ending. Oh and it’s a whole 99 cents :)

  30. 30

    There is a transgender character in The Marketplace books by Laura Antoniou, but telling who it is would be a HUGE spoiler. The books are BDSM erotica, and very well done (some of my favorites, actually).

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