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Here are 9 books, TV shows, and movies to enjoy for Transgender Awareness Week

Ryan Murphy's new series Pose

This week is Transgender Awareness Week, a time to celebrate the lives, stories, and experiences of transgender people around the world.

It is the precursor to Transgender Remembrance Day, observed annually on 20 November to recognize and memorialize victims of transphobic violence.

One of the best ways to recognize and celebrate trans people is to know their stories.

For Trans Awareness Week, here are nine books, television shows, and movies you can enjoy.

Peter Darling book cover

The book Peter Darling | Photo: Less Than Three Press

Books

  • Little Fish by Casey Plett

All three of the novels listed here are written by trans authors.

In Plett’s story, Little Fish, Wendy, a 30-year-old trans woman, discovers her grandfather may have also been trans. Thus, she sets out on a journey to discover more about him and his history and, subsequently, her own identity.

Little Fish is the debut novel by Plett, who previously won a Lambda Award for her short story collection, A Safe Girl to Love.

  • Peter Darling by Austin Chant

We all know the story of Peter Pan — the boy who wouldn’t grow up, who lived in Neverland, and fought with his most fearsome foe, Captain Hook.

But what if Peter’s aversion to becoming a man stemmed deeper than a fearing of growing up? And what if those feelings for Captain Hook suddenly became more akin to romance?

Chant takes the beloved story by JM Barrie and turns it on its head, offering a brand-new glimpse into the world of mermaids and Lost Boys.

  • Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

Yang published her debut novel, Small Beauty, in 2016. It earned her an honor from the Dayne Ogilvie Prize. The following year, she earned the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction.

Small Beauty follows Xiao Mei, a Chinese-Canadian trans woman, and her grief, after the death of a cousin. The story contains aspects of folklore and magical realism, adding depth and color to the story.

Laverne Cox stars in Orange Is The New Black

Laverne Cox stars in Orange Is The New Black | Photo: IMDB/Netflix

Television

  • Orange Is the New Black

Like the books, all of the shows on this list cast trans actors.

Orange Is the New Black, the Netflix dramedy about women in prison, skyrocketed Laverne Cox to fame and became one of the first major television hits in the US with a trans character.

In the show, Cox plays Sophia Burset, a trans woman in jail for credit card fraud when she funded her gender confirmation surgery. Throughout the show, audiences see Sophia develop new friendships and relationships with other inmates, and face her own struggles as a trans woman, such as a reduction in her hormone dosage.

  • Queen Sugar

The Ava DuVernay series on the Oprah Winfrey Network follows a pair of estranged siblings who must come together after a family tragedy to save the sugar cane farm.

It also helped actor Brian Michael Smith come out as transgender.

Last year’s season introduced trans police officer Toine Wilkins, played by Smith. Though Smith had been professionally acting for several years prior to this role, he did not come out until last year.

  • Pose

The newest show on this list, about ball culture in 1980s New York City, made history when it cast five trans actors in series regular roles.

Its first season, which aired earlier this year, earned rave reviews and brought stars MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross into the limelight.

The show is a heartwarming and nuanced look at LGBTI culture in the 80s. In the first season alone, it explored transphobia, the AIDS crisis, homelessness, and more.

Murphy recently revealed Season 2 will jump forward in time to 1990.

Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman.

Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman | Photo: IMDB/Sony Pictures Classic

Movies

  • Tangerine

Shot entirely on three iPhone 5s smartphones, the film follows a transgender sex worker in Los Angeles who discovers her boyfriend and pimp is cheating on her.

The movie earned excellent reviews from critics and marked the first Oscars campaign for openly trans actors. Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor were both lauded for their performances, but neither received a nomination.

  • Paris Is Burning

The seminal documentary is the perfect pairing with FX’s Pose.

The film explores ball culture in 1980s NYC, with a specific emphasis on African-American, Latinx, gay, and transgender communities.

In 2016, the Library of Congress chose the film for preservation in the US National Film Registry for its ‘cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance’.

Activists like bell hooks have criticized the film for its direction by a white lesbian. hooks also criticized the movie putting forth the perceived notion that white femininty is the ultimate goal for gender expression.

  • A Fantastic Woman

At this year’s Academy Awards, A Fantastic Woman made history when it won Best Foreign Language Film. It is the first Oscar winner in history to feature a trans storyline with a trans actor in the lead role.

In the film, Daniela Vega plays a Chilean trans woman who has to confront her lover’s family after his death. It is a poignant film that garnered critical acclaim and plenty of awards support.

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Author: Anya Crittenton