Seeing the Tiptree Awards as sent to me by The Bookslut on Twitter reminded me of a conversation I was having with a customer four years ago. She was buying books for her partner, who was going through gender reassignment, and had a whole list of books she wanted to read. It came as little surprise to me that most of them were fantasy with a sprinkling of science fiction in there. It was a very interesting list and when I heard about the Tiptree Awards it occurred to me to publish the list here so other people can get the benefit of their research. I took the time to email my customer and seek permission which was granted.
The list is as follows (I’ve taken out any really objectionable words):
Aldiss, Brian. The Dark Light Years (1964)
The primal urge
The hand-reared boy
Bujold, Lois McMaster. Ethan of Athos (1986) –. Rest of the Miles Vorkosigan series includes other gay, hermaophriditic, and transgendered characters. See especially The Warrior’s Apprentice; The Vor Game; Mirror Dance; A Civil Campaign (transgender). In Barrayar and Mirror Dance there is some discussion of a major character’s bisexuality
Buttler, Octavia Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago
Aliens land on the earth and attempt to merge biologically with humankind. They know a third gender and try to incorporate the humans. Adventure driven novel which explores the positions of both groups who resist that change and those who conform to collaborate with the aliens. Octavia Buttler’s multiethnic and racial perspective adds to the depth of the novel.
–. The Bone Doll’s Twin (Tamir v.1) [bisexual tensions; protagonist is female raised, and magically disguised even from herself, as a boy]
–. Hidden Warrior (2003) (Tamir v.2)
Weird and sometimes gay and transgender individuals can be found in this short story collection my Neil Gaiman.
Also lot’s of werewolves and creatures from T. Lovecrafts universe. Funny, intelligent, some sci-fi, some horror.
Hall, Radclyffe. “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself” (1934) (a lesbian WWI nurse ends up in the body of a prehistoric cave man)
Heinlein, Robert A. I will fear no evil 1971
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
The Door into Summer
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs (Hardcover)
Job: A Comedy of Justice
The Green Hills Of Earth
Podkayne of Mars (Ace Science Fiction) (Paperback)
Le Guin, Ursula. –. The Left Hand of Darkness. (1969) (Classic work about a race that embodies both genders in each person; see also the other Gethenian stories.)
–. “The Matter of Seggri” (in a world with few men, men and women are kept separate; young men are encouraged to form homosexual relationships, and sometimes adult men to also; women form sexual and love relationships with each other; heterosexuality is ritualized & reproductive)
–. “Unchosen Love” and “Mountain Ways” (Both stories take place in the Ekumen universe, on the planet O), where marriages are of four people, two men and two women, with four pairings between them (two heterosexual, two homosexual), across “moieties” (traditional divisions between “morning” and “evening” people). In these two stories same-sex romances are the centerpieces of complex love / family relationships.)
Leigh, Stephen. Dark Water’s Embrace (lesbian, transgender; on another world hetero-sex doesn’t quite seem to work. homosexuality is officially discouraged & punished since it seems to be non-reproductive, but what do you do with seeming hermaphrodites?)
–. Speaking Stones (sequel to Dark Water’s Embrace, and continuing the story of the 3-sexed world. It’s worth it to point out that the “midmale” (the in-between sex) of the humans are often described as more similar to females than to males; and in fact they writing of them makes them seem more female than male. So their relationships with women feel like lesbian relationships.)
Lynn, Elizabeth. –. Watchtower (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 1) (cross-dressing “ghyas,” homosexual passion, & cool lesbian sidekicks, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. Dancers of Arun (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 2) (gay boy inc*st, sort of, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. The Northern Girl (1980) (the conclusion to the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy)
G R R Martin (song of ice and fire series)
Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords, feast for crows
Set to become one of the next classics in epic fantasy, there is a very small fraction on gay, lesbian content and Arja, one of the main protagonists that crossdresses as a boy,
to save her life and starts to live as a boy, while partially striving to retain their female identity. The dimension of this work merits comparison with Tolkiens Lord of the Rings.
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
The Ship Who Searched (Baen Science Fiction) by Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey (Paperback)
The Ship Who Won (Paperback) by Jody Lynn Nye, Anne McCaffrey
McHugh, Maureen.–. Mission Child. (No gay sex, but a transgendered protagonist; a woman who, disguising herself as a man, then finding her own “two-spirit” self, then trying to be a woman, then giving up & becoming sort-of a man, sort-of a neuter.)
McKee Charnas, Suzy
Won the Tipptree award. A boy who has to crossdress as a girl to save his life in a society of separatist women. Savannah, swamps, cities built on the ruins of an old currupt civiliasation, which detroyed itsself in a terrible war.
Feet of Clay – Also in Jingo, the Last Continent and the Fifth Elephant transgender is a major element in the new Terry Practchett books. Humorous, intelligent fantasy which reflects the struggles of coming out, transition and bigotry and gives a good laugh at the same time. Thoroughly recommended to brighten up your day, also a good gift for holidays, birthdays to everyone. Best are Feet of clay and Fifth elephant, but also the others are not bad. In fact Terry has already made it onto the top of Britain’s general bestseller lists.
In Jingo Corporal Nobbs from the City disguises as a woman and we can watch him to experiment with cross-dressing and exploring his female side on Jingo and the Fifth Elephant. A parallel string is the journey of the dwarven women, who are forced by custom to be not distigushable from men, to a proud expression of femalehood, which is started in Feet of Clay. Suffering gender-biased restrictions and discriminations however do not prevent dwarfs to discrimitate against werewolves. At the same time the City watch is solving crime cases of high politically impact, in a world were equal opportunity policy might encompass Vampires, Trolls (which own Si-based-brains), the undead and maybe even Golems. The balance of humor, thoughtful philosophy, fantasy adventure story and political satire is most likely the foundation of the sucess of these books.
The Female Man (Bluestreak) (Paperback)
Extra (Ordinary) People (Hardcover)
Extraordinary People (1984), The Zanzibar Cat (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987).
Shadow man – What’s better – a world where gender identity is characterized by your genital anatomy (and the one of your partner if sexual identity is concerned) or one where your identity is determined by your personality? Intersexed protagonist, gay and gender bending characters and full of thoughtful sociopolitical analysis. A rival to the classic a “left hand side of darkness”.
The world of Cordwainer Smith is inhabited by FTMs and cat-human hybrids. Besides he’s one of the major early writers in the field of Sci-fi. Norstilla the novel and the collection of short stories are both excellent choices, the hardcover also merits the price.
The instrumentality of mankind
Bread and honey
Springer, Nancy Madbond, Mindbond, Godbond
Thomas, Thomas T. Crygender (1992)
–. Lots of Varley’s work depicts transgender characters, multi-gender societies, and bi/omni-sexual characters.
Wells, John J. [pseud. for Marion Zimmer Bradley & Juanita Coulson], “Another Rib,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June, 1963) [when an all-male crew returns from outer space to discover Earth destroyed, they have to figure out how to reproduce with each other]
Westerfeld, Scott Polymorph 1977
Westerfeld, Scott. Polymorph (1997) – (a shape-changer, born woman, can be male or female; has lesbian, straight, and gay sex; the protagonist seems to identify as female. at one point she actively resents a shape-changer who identifies as male butting in on dyke-turf. nice sf’al dyke bar scene.)
Williams, A. Susan, et al The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Lythande”
Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Science Fiction and Fantasy (Paperback)
by Camilla Decarnin, Eric Garber, Lyn Paleo (Editor)
The Riddle of Gender : Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights (Hardcover)
by Deborah Rudacille
Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working With Gender-Variant People and Their Families (Haworth Marriage and the Family)
by Arlene Istar Lev (Paperback – April 2004)