Lez Liberty Lit Is Evaluating Everything

Feature photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.


Hello and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

“It’s worth asking, in this moment of heightened visibility for trans issues: what does it mean to be trans in YA novels?,” asks Clarence Harlan Orsi at the Los Angeles Review of Books:

“These novels are the important and necessary first generation of YA trans stories. But for the second generation, I’ll be looking for books that let us stay out of the fold a little longer. I’ll be looking for books that take for granted the reader’s knowledge of the basic vocabulary of gender difference. Books where the cultural backdrop to the transition is not “neutral” (middle-class white), but visible enough to show how the character’s cultural/familial world shapes their transition options, as it invariably does. Books that talk about sexuality as it relates to gender identity, instead of forcing the two apart. Books where the kid is transgender but the main source of conflict lies elsewhere. Books where the kid decides not to transition after all. Books where the kid embraces being a freak. Books that are more funny than tragic. Books where cis people are self-reflective enough to examine their own perceptions of trans people.”

Read these books about how to evaluate what you see and hear and then send them to everyone you know.

The new national literature of Canada is being written by women,” writes Cynthia Gralla, an American, at Electric Literature:

“[A]s I put my ear to the ground of my adopted country, I long for new voices—indigenous authors, writers of color, women speaking to experiences hidden from common view. Recent books by Katherena Vermette, Tanya Tagaq, Esi Edugyan, Sheila Heti, and Miriam Toews have fed this urge and suggested to me that one quality intrinsic to Canadian literature, at least in its most recent iteration, may be its emphasis on women’s speech and the act of listening.”

What were the secret queer lives of legendary movie stars really like?

All the Misery of Being in Your 20s, But with Jokes.”

Read these books in the second half of 2019. Read these books by or about Black journalists. Read these books about the history of women’s writing. Read these books recommended by Roxane Gay. Read these books not by men. Read these novels set in deserts.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. The most closest thing to a trans narrative I found in high school was Ranma 1/2. Somehow I was not inspired to come out of the closet on the spot.

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