Give & Take: Building Community and Supporting Trans, Nonbinary & Genderqueer Authors
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved to read. From fiction to fantasy to memoirs, growing up, my nose was always in a book. Through college, this favorite pastime of mine was forced to take a back seat to textbooks and homework. However, during the height of the pandemic in 2020, I again found an escape through books that reinvigorated my love of reading. A few reader friends of mine introduced me to an online community of readers on Instagram, “bookstagram” as we call it, and I immediately had to take part. Through participating in this virtual movement, I’ve been able to connect with people all over the world as we share a common love for Kindle deals and “Book of the Month,” an increasingly popular monthly book subscription service.
In response to the increase in banned books across the United States in recent years, avid reader and bookstagrammer Sim Kern (they/them) created the hashtag #TransRightsReadathon to raise awareness and funds for transgender rights. Using their platform, they encouraged the bookstagram community to rally around trans, nonbinary and genderqueer authors by proposing a readathon from March 20-27, 2023, and the rest was history. As word spread, the participants grew from 30, to 300, and eventually over 3,000. The goal was simple: read and support trans and nonbinary authors and stories, and raise money for LGBTQ+ causes as you do it.
I was thrilled to take part in the readathon, especially since it exposed me to many different queer stories and authors that I may never have never come across in my own book browsing. My personal favorite read was All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, a book that is currently banned in more than 29 school districts across the U.S. In addition to reading authors like Akwaeke Emezi, George M. Johnson, and N.K. Jemisin, I was able to show my support financially by donating to The Ali Forney Center, a 24-hour program that provides homeless LGBTQ+ youth housing, job readiness training, and a safe environment to escape the streets.
I would encourage everyone to use their passions and hobbies to support important causes and help make a positive change. Participating in this readathon movement has allowed me to do just that, and it has been such a rewarding experience. At a time when it was so easy to feel isolated, I found a community where I could share thoughts, book reviews, and even personal stories with people from across the globe. This just exemplifies that the power of reading can truly extend beyond the individual.
Should you be interested in joining in on the fun, here are some books that were written by trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer authors to add to your summer reading list:
· The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
· One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
· Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
· The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
· A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
· All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson