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The Gender Flow in YA Fiction

July 8th, 2013 · Marilyn H. · Staff Recommendations

I recently met up with a friend in a city. Two slim, long-legged kids with shocks of short blonde and green dyed hair trailed behind her and kept their distance. I asked if one was her son. She informed me that, no, one was her daughter.

As I tried to apologize for my mistake, she let me know that no apology was needed; the two 14 year-old girls would be pleased that they were perceived as boys. We spoke about them a bit more after they went off on their own. Turns out that that day they were posing as boys, though at home they wore their “girl clothes” and had boyfriends.

Unfortunately, I was not able to talk with these particular kids and understand what was happening in their psyches, but they stayed in my mind because they made me think about issues of gender for teenagers.

With a little digging, I discovered that there is a fast-growing young adult fiction centered around gender switching. Some titles on this list are lighthearted; others are serious stories about transgender individuals.

The last title, Pantomime by Laura Lam, is getting a lot of attention as its main character is intersex or gender variant (not identifying as either solely male or female). As teenagers navigate their way into adulthood, their own gender identities are likely to be of utmost interest to them, and understanding and acceptance is needed from everyone.

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