3 September 2020 – I finished the 3rd book in Clancy Nacht and Thursday Euclid’s Phisher King series this weekend, and the impact that the story (more specifically, its trans and HIV-positive characters) had on me is what inspired the books I read in the days following:
Penetration Test (Kindle Unlimited) is an m/m Romance about an undercover FBI operation where Sam and Rob are posing as a married couple moving into home gated community (Of conservative Christian and white and allll those good, suspicious, how-is-this-all-still-allowed things). The most striking thing for me was the trans rep. It felt special and wondrous and Rob is just.. the loveliest and actually perfect book boyfriend for Sam. —Possibly my favourite book boyfriend of the year! Sam is over-40 and out at the Bureau, where he transitioned. Rob is out as queer to his friends but not at work. Their bond is just !!!!!! Ugh. Divine! They connect on so many levels. And the things that have made them feel a bit (a lot) of internalized stigma and insecurity are what makes them click so perfectly, and fall so wonderfully hard for each other here.
Sidenote: I will 1000% be doing a post that expresses the wonder with which I consumed Penetration Test —which… I can see why the titles in the series are as they are, but I feel quite strongly that they should have been something more accurately conveys the depth of the story. Okayyyy lolol wow, a moment of silence for my request that there be more depth to the Penetration Test title. Touche, universe. Touche!
This is a short speculative fiction story of two trans teens who find themselves in a tangled situation. The kids at school are running with this rumour that Avi’s going to die in six months, and he is suddenly welcomed into cool-kid-at-school Ian’s home and (extremely welcoming, caring, accommodating, all-round best) family. There’s a bit of magic in here, a summoning of this lovely maternal spirit, and a lot of awesome trans life and gender-affirming moments. This story felt really special, and completely charming. I wish I could live inside it for so much longer than it is. In terms of rep: Ian has two moms, one of whom is trans, too. Avi is Jewish, and it’s incorporated into a lot of their story.
Content warnings: Bullying, rumours and mean comments from kids at school. Suicidal thoughts.
Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans (on Goodreads) is available as a short story on the author’s website, you can get it here at a price of your choosing. (It’s one of those ‘pay what you can’ forms)
The writing style takes a little bit of getting used to but oh man is it lovely. Both characters are trans and both characters have had accidents that affected them physically. Jalen uses they/them pronouns (as does the author of this story) and lost three of their fingers when they were very young. P is a trans man, who is just very hot and confident, and has a prosthesis from his knee down on one leg. P comes up to Jalen in a coffee shop, asks them out on a date to see ‘terrible sci-fi’ movies, and their love story begins! Really their time together is a lot of drinking coffee, having sex, and watching and talking about the art of “bad” sci-fi films. It’s a short read, but very special.
I’ll particularly remember P, who asks for Jalen’s pronouns before their first kiss and spends time online to find a name for their relationship. They eventually agree on enbyfriend and just go about being sweet and enjoying sex together. I would absolutely love an expanded version of this story –there is so much more to unpack about both of their lives and the adventure that is their romance. It would be fun to watch all the movies referenced in here, too.
Content warnings: In their narration, Jalen calls P’s genitals by their AFAB (assigned female at birth) names, which I know can be dysphoric for some trans people. There is a scene where P’s mom calls him by his deadname.
Bonus content ♥
In my extensive searches for books with the kinds of characters I want to read, I discovered a couple of books that I reallllly want to buy but am (just barely) restraining myself from buying because I have so many books already inside my Kindle that I need to get through. My only exceptions to that are all the fantastic Kindle Unlimited options I’ve been discovering. SO, if you are in a position to purchase some books that come highly recommended by some ownvoices readers as stories with excellent and lovely diverse rep, behold: