Office work and Trans* YA fiction


As of last week, I’m now a volunteer at the local gay alliance, doing office work from 10AM-1PM on Fridays.  I have never done office work in my entire life.  Aside from dropping a call instead of transferring it, I think I did alright.  Oh, also, at the end of my shift I walked out without the letters I was going to mail and had to go back, ring the bell, and be let back in to get them.  Actually, now that I think about it, I was a condensed bundle of nerves.  But I acknowledge that it’s going to get easier really fast, and I can be a friendly person on the phone.

Being in the office made me realize how my mannerisms and movements sort of clash with a tiny, confined space!  At my regular job as a janitor, I make big sweeping motions all day long.  I work standing up.  And when I sit down to take a break, I slouch and sprawl.  I was doing this at a tiny desk, only half-realizing while I was mid-act or mid-motion.  For example, I was stuffing some letters, and halfway through the task, I realized I was standing up.  I think all of this is fine, but I want to watch it because I don’t want to come off as uncaring or aggressive.

I decided to volunteer finally because I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing lately.  I don’t particularly care about office work, but I care about the LGBT community and would like to see some of the goings-on.  Eventually, my dream is to be the facilitator of the gender identity youth group.  Due to my janitorial hours, I’m not able to do this in the foreseeable future, but it’s on my radar.  They meet once a week during the evening.  I’m at work every evening.  But!  If one day I get the position of a head custodian, my hours would switch to daytime, and I’d have evenings free.  I would like to work with kids in this capacity, even though it’d be super difficult for me, doing all that talking and directing and stuff.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading some YA books that kids thinking about gender identity might enjoy.  So far, these have included:

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger – about a high school junior starting to transition from female to male.  Focuses heavily on family dynamics and reactions and also issues at school and with his best friend.  I read it a year and a half ago, so my memory is a little fuzzy, but I recall the narration being a little bit fluffy, only scratching the surface about what it might feel like.

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher – Again, it’s been a year and a half since I read this, but I would not necessarily recommend this to a young adult thinking about gender identity.  It was definitely gripping and fast paced, but to the point of being sensationalistic.  Some moments were poignant and realistic, but others made me want to ask the author, “Did you really have to go there?”  It’s about someone who is a stealth MTF high school student, and what happens when her secret is revealed.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills – By far, my favorite so far.  It’s a quirky story of someone who is FTM and is able to split aspects of his identity by being a male radio DJ by night, and making progress in trying to come out in his daytime worlds.  He has a strong bond with his older neighbor / DJ mentor / friend which just feels realistic and hopeful, even when other connections with people are not going the way he might want.

I am J by Cris Beam – I just got this out of the library yesterday!  I’ll have to write about it after I read it.

Has anyone else read some YA fiction they would recommend?  I’m hoping to relate to the young kids these days by reading books about them, haha.  So that one day I can be a successful youth group facilitator.


6 Comments on “Office work and Trans* YA fiction”

  1. Tristen says:

    I read and loved beautiful music for ugly children and almost perfect. I’m eager to read the other two, it’s just a matter of finding the time.


  2. I love YA fiction, and I haven’t read any of these! Thanks for the recommendations! And good luck with the volunteering, that sounds like a great thing to do.


  3. I’m definitely going to try to read these. Thanks for putting a list together!


  4. micah says:

    That’s almost the entirety of Trans YA lit…

    There is Luna (told from the perspective of the sister), Jumpstart the World (the neighbor is FTM), and I like to recommend Debbie Harry Sings in French (about a straight cross-dresser, but one of the better narratives). A new one came out as well, If You Could Be Mine, set in Iran, it’s on my to-read list.

    AND! AND! You should totally read Pantomime, and its sequel Shadowplay which just came out this January. There’s supposed to be a third, so it’s a trilogy. The main character – Micah 🙂 – is intersex. The intersex issue is treated very well. But ultimately, to me, it’s also a trans story: Micah is raised female, but prefers to be seen as a guy. I’d say his gender is transmasculine / non-binary, and his sex is intersex. Not to mention sexuality, and how it is addressed very positively – questioning what it means to be attracted to someone when your own gender isn’t clear. Very complex and layered, not the usual flat YA stuff. Plus there’s an actual plot, action-adventure fantasy type. You can tell I am in love with this book series, I need to write a blog post on it…


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