Celebrating Trans & Nonbinary Authors!

By Heather Ford

Fandom Forward
4 min readSep 19, 2022
Fandom Forward Presents Book Defenders: fandomforward.org/bookdefenders

This summer, we updated our annual “Accio Books” campaign to reflect the changing world around us and directly address the worrying increase in book bans throughout the United States.

During Book Defenders, we’re still donating tons of books to communities in need, but we’re also learning how to fight book bans and how to keep writing banned books — that is, keep writing stories that reveal the interesting, complicated, sometimes messy truth about the world as we see it.

As part of the campaign we hosted Celebrating Trans & Nonbinary Authors, a virtual event held on International Literacy Day, to celebrate the stories of some of the authors most impacted by book censorship.

We were so honored to talk with eight incredible authors, writing in many different genres, to hear more about their books, their writing process, and the importance of defending books.

Below you can find a highlight from each author! Make sure to check out all their books here. If you purchase a book using that link, a portion of the proceeds also comes back to support Fandom Forward!

Jackson Bird

“[Fandom Forward’s community] is the ideal audience for Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place: A Transgender Memoir. I used a zine about my chest that I sold at conventions to help fund my top surgery, and that led to my memoir. I’ve had people tell me my memoir helped them with anxieties around their identity or transition. Also, a lot of people have used it as a tool to have conversations with parents, grandparents, or teachers, and it actually worked!”

Robin Gow

“For Dear Mothman, I thought about how as a young queer person I didn’t have a lot of queer language. However, I was a big fan of monster stories and monsters. I really think it was early forms of queerness–I didn’t just like monsters, I sympathized with them. I thought that young people might want a queer monster book they could related to.”

Issac Fitzsimons

“I believe representation is important. I love Lord of the Rings, and as a kid I would watch VHS tapes such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Rewatching them, I realized how white they were,” said author Isaac Fitzsimmons of his characters such as those in the Passing Playbook. “I want to write diverse stories that reflect my friend groups and the people in my life. It’s common that a character may be neurodiverse or trans, but they’re the secondary character, and ‘coming to terms with it’ is the protagonist’s journey. That’s not my experience. Families are messy and people are complex.”

Z.R. Ellor

“Launching my books during the pandemic, of course you couldn’t do school stuff. I’ve heard from a parent who had to go out and buy their kid a new copy because he read it so much. I’ve heard from teenagers who are like 18, 19 years old and tell me my books mean so much to them. It’s so important to be able to contribute to this community that I’m a part of,” said Z. R. Ellor, author of May the Best Man Win.

Emme Lund

“I wanted to center queer joy in The Boy with a Bird in His Chest. He faces some backlash and homophobia. He has a bigger problem to deal with–a literal bird in his chest.”

Sarah Gailey

“I’ve had my newsletter, “Stone Soup,” since Mail Chimp and Substack. It really took back off in building a community during the pandemic. I did a series of recipes, and it became a supportive space. The Friday open chats are coming back, and people just talk about what they’re struggling with in their life…it’s a lovely safe space.”

Zeyn Joukhadar

“I didn’t realize I was interested in history until I had written these two books. I’m interested in history and its role in forming a future. In The Thirty Names of Night, the protagonist is a nonbinary transmasculine person of color who finds community through the fictional papers of an artist who lived in Manhattan’s Little Syria.”

Neon Yang

“In the world of the The Tensorate series, children are not assigned a gender at birth, and part of the the journey in these novellas is that the two twins are going on separate gender journeys.”

This event was a lovely addition to Fandom Forward’s first Book Defenders summer and if you want even more ideas on how to defend books, downloading the Book Defenders Toolkit is a great place to start!

When you take any action to defend books, don’t forget to submit your points to help your house (based on your favorite book genre) win the Book Defenders Cup! While you’re at it, snag one of our rad “We’ll Keep Reading” shirts, join our book club, or donate directly to Fandom Forward.