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The 10 Best Books With Intersex Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best Books With Intersex Characters You Should Have Read Already By Now!

While a person identifying as intersex generally means that they were born with sexual characteristics that place them not soundly in a perceived binary gender, there is a lot more to the word and the definition surrounding it than one might think.

There are intersex people who do not know that they are intersex for a long time – perhaps even their entire lives – and then there are those who have their physical intersex traits altered upon birth by a doctor.

Regardless of whether someone is intersex due to their outward appearance, hormones, or anything else, it remains true that they face the same dangers that all those who challenge gender norms do. And that they are underrepresented in literature, especially the dearth of books with intersex characters.

Just like when it comes to non-binary individuals and their lives, a lot of the conflict surrounding being intersex comes from society’s insatiable need to categorize people based on gender and to ruthlessly insist that a person must belong to the category that it sees fit. In a large number of cases, however, the ‘category’ simply does not fit the person pushed into it.

Whether a person is transgender, non-binary, intersex, or does not conform to gender ‘norms’ in any other way, they will know what it means to be in that wrong category, and also what the world will do to try to keep them in it.

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While the world and society as a whole may be quite far away from resolving its overbearing definitions of gender and the rules that come with them, this does not mean that there is no hope. The opposite could not be more true, as a matter of fact. Talented authors and researchers from all across the world have been sinking genuine interest in the subject for decades.

Regardless of whether any specific book is set in this world or in a fantastical one, we readers are lucky enough to be able to browse through others’ personal experiences with being Intersex to find inspiration for our own lives.

So, with that said, get ready to unconditionally accept yourself and the people around you with ten books about or featuring Intersex characters! It’s a colorful, creative lineup to be sure, and so we hope that you’re just as excited as we are!

Soldiers are the patriots of our country
Unless of course they are gay or a transgender,
Then they don’t stand for the brave or the free
And against foes, they will all runaway or surrender.
But, those thoughts and beliefs I will slay,
As they are the words that our president (not me) did say.

A soldier is a soldier whether they are woman or man
They are born and then raised with that patriotic pride,
Whatever one sex or person can do, the other can
Sometimes it is tattooed upon their soul, and then their hide.
“Our military doesn’t accept gays or transgenders we accept only wins”!
Says a president who dyes his hair, and wears a corset and bobby pins.

From Transgender Soldiers by Randy McClave
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

Intersex Characters Books - Best Intersex Characters Books - Best Books with Intersex Characters - Books on Intersex Characters

Just Ash by Sol Santana

A classic young adult high school fiction novel on the surface, but a masterpiece of well-tuned twists and quite admirably handled subject matters beneath the cover.

Just Ash is unique in a lot of ways, most importantly of all as one of the few YA books out there to cover the topic of being intersex and the various, unique challenges that it provides to growing teenagers trying to make their way through the already socially perilous ways of the world.

Ash has lived his entire life as a boy thus far, even though he knows fully well that he is intersex. He’s fully comfortable as a male, and although he knows that he may have the organs of both genders, that fact has just been something that he’s grown up getting used to for his entire life.

It’s not a problem – or, at least, it isn’t until he suddenly experiences a period in the middle of the entire sports team, leaving him with little option but to face a social mocking rivaled by few others.

Things are forever changed for him, and he has a whole new world to manage, a whole new person to be, and a whole new load of problems.

Perhaps – despite everything that others might say about him, and despite all of the unique challenges he will have to weather – Ash is just… Ash. Maybe being in between the lines isn’t so bad after all, and maybe he can live happily ever after after all. 

Just Ash by Sol Santana - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Everybody who knows the Walker family knows that they are sticklers for appearances – especially when it comes to their ‘golden boy’ Max. But, in truth, there is nothing golden about Max – nor is he just a boy.

That’s not to say that he is not a wonderful person, but he is not one to enjoy living up to expectations. That, and not one hundred percent sold on his identity as an intersex individual.

Told from the perspectives of the people who know Max best – his parents, his brother Daniel, and his doctor – Golden Boy does not focus on one aspect of its story for long before growing and nurturing another, making it a truly organic reading experience that pleases both the eyes and the mind with its constantly vibrant atmosphere and deeply emotional take on the situations that it encompasses.

Just like its individual storylines, there is not one specific thing that makes Golden Boy great – all of its different facets and aspects collaborate to make the entire book into a shining star of a literary masterpiece.

Max and his family are relatable and feel almost real, given the tension and the heartfelt need to do good for one another that they all feel, and although things are rough at times, there always seems to be a way for the characters to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and remain determined and in the game. Max, hopes that all will be right with the world.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Everything seems to be going perfectly for Kristin. She was recently voted homecoming queen, and she has the perfect jock boyfriend that all the girls seem to have in the movies. Not only that, but she has a whole life planned ahead of her and a school record of perfect grades and countless friends behind. 

But that’s when everything suddenly falls apart, and she is left trying to collect the scraps of her old life back together in the wake of a revelation that she would never have expected to come in a million years. Everything finally makes perfect sense to Kristin now.

All it took was one doctor’s visit, and she finally discovered the truth about herself. She’s intersex, and although she has lived her entire life as a young woman, she must now accept that a good fraction of her body and its functions are male.

Just when things couldn’t get more confusing, Kristin’s private medical information is suddenly leaked to the entire school, and her fate truly seems to be set in stone. No one wants to talk to her anymore, her boyfriend is confused, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope on the horizon.

Will Kerstin buckle and break against the unexpected change, or will she rise and seize the inevitable by the horns? None of the Above is an inspiring, unique novel that challenges norms and builds upon the sentiment that problems will not solve themselves if you run from them.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Between XX and XY by Gerald N. Callahan

Supported well by the author’s status as the Colorado State University’s Professor of Immunology and Public Understanding of Science, Gerald N. Callahan’s Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes is a loud and bold attack on the hegemony of gender segregation, breaking down the entire idea of sexes as a whole to its very foundations, and raising it back up a harmonious, creative glance at what makes us all unique as human beings. 

No person deserves to be reduced to what they have between their legs or what kind of hair and face they have. In Callahan’s mind, our world is far too broad a place for that, and the only way to move forward in terms of both scientific and social examination of gender is to resist the temptation to continue imposing predefined conditions.

The medical community has struggled over the subject of gender for a long, long time, and in his mind, this hesitation is due to a lack of impartiality and true interest in reaching out for biological and human realities. 

According to the statistics listed in the book, more than two thousand intersex children are born in the US alone – and that was back in 2009.

Nowadays, it’s estimated that over 1.7% of the world’s population is at least partially intersex, and that means that Dr. Callahan’s points and musings in this book are more accurate now than ever as we discover more about ourselves and about the true fluidity of gender.

Between XX and XY by Gerald N. Callahan - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Name pun put to the side; there’s nothing flippant or humorous about this piece’s subject matter and the scope of its vision. To the contrary – Middlesex is a grand tale of considerable scale and more than tangible emotion, following the fictional exploits of the Stephanides family as they move from their homeland and their tiny Greek village to the Detroit of the early 20th century.

Three generations of Stephanides seek to find a new home in this new, confusing place, but our focus is the youngest ‘daughter of the family’, Calliope Stephanides. 

Callie is different in a lot of ways, but many of the strangers around her remain completely oblivious to her greatest secret of all – a secret that is not truly hers to hold alone but also one belonging to her entire family and the tip of the iceberg that leads to a genetic wormhole stretching far back into all of their pasts and that of the home culture.

Middlesex isn’t just about the experience and personal journey of being intersex. It is also about the drama and arc of a family adjusting to a new home just as Callie – working her way to a new male identity as Cal – adjusts to a new life and new ideas of gender.

The outside and the inside ideas of familiarity go hand in hand with this book, and together they make for a unique, strangely perfect read that will inspire and enrapture even the most reluctant reader.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Pantomime by L.R. Lam

Pantomime is a work of great wonder, showmanship, and fleeting colors. Set in a retro circus in a world where the past is threatening to catch up with the present in the most unfortunate ways, the book follows a girl named Gene in escaping from danger and misfortune in favor of joining the way of the showman. 

But mysterious, unexplained magical abilities aren’t the only thing that Gene carries with her. As one may assume from the book’s inclusion on this list, Gene’s nature with being both male and female is just another addition to her repertoire of secrets that make it just one bit trickier for her to make her way through everyday life.

Not hard, per se, for Pantomime certainly does not act as if being intersex is in any way something to be ashamed of, but certainly, something that adds another layer of complexity that proves transformative to the later stages of the story.

Joining the circus as Micah – a talented acrobat with nothing to lose – Gene casts aside her old identity and takes up a new one – one of a boy with an untold destiny that could just save the world, or just could doom it to ruin forever.

But the problems that he faces aren’t just those of prophecies and the dark clouds on the horizon. The circus life isn’t anything as he expected, and there seem to be more people out for taking his head than there are fans in the audience.

Pantomime by L.R. Lam - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

The first and only sci-fi novel on this list of books with intersex characters, An Unkindness of Ghosts takes that mantle gladly and showcases its genre proudly – easily integrating the real-life commentary that it makes into a setting backlit and surrounded by stars.

There are those people who flock to the open yet simultaneously barbed arms of society, and there are those that turn their back and move in the opposite direction. Over her life, Aster has learned the hard way that she has to be one of the former. Things never went well for her, and people never liked her anyway.

They call her a monster and a freak, as though her body were of any significance to them. Her skin is darker, and her form is different from theirs, but so what? Why should she care what they think of her? After all, she and the rest of the passengers of the HSS Matilda are doomed anyway. 

It has been countless years since the last of humanity was shipped off into the depths of space in search of the ‘Promised Land’, but the years are growing long, and the systems that keep the social ecosphere of the ship at least somewhat functioning are beginning to break down with hopelessness.

Aster wants off the ship, and – or so she hopes – so do many others. Freedom might be one coup away, and she’s more than prepared to weather the consequences of failure. Better to try than live a lie forever.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Annabel by Kathleen Winter

While many of the other books in this focus on parents and other parties attempting to force an intersex child down one path or another rather than accounting for and embracing their uniqueness, Annabel serves as somewhat of a twist to this. For the most part, at least. 

Born into a 1960s rural hunting community that doesn’t have much room for depth or contradiction in its societal structure, Annabel’s female side was quite literally locked away by surgery, but that didn’t stop her mother from striving to keep it alive and appreciate the great sense of variety and specialness that her identity offered.

Annabel’s father, however, saw only the son that he had always wanted and the son that both of them would have to keep if they wanted to maintain any standing within their town and in their lives.

What follows next is a gently transforming journey that takes Annabel – raised as Wayne – from denying her feminine side to realizing that it won’t keep resurfacing for a reason. That reason is that it is a part of her, and that part should not be denied or locked away.

Eventually, Annabel comes to share the exact idea that her mother had so long ago when she was born – that the very thing that makes her different from all of those around her is a strength and a versatility rather than a weakness, and that things are only starting to get better for her and her life.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Stability is certainly not the word of the year for Alex. After all, she’s brought about more than her fair share of change this year – a new school, new clothes, and a doubling down on something she always knew about herself and her body. It’s time that she was herself and nobody but herself. No more pills, no more compromises, and no more lying about what she wants.

After leaving her boy’s school for good and trying her best to learn about being a woman in as little time as possible, Alex faces a barrage of disappointment from her parent’s thanks to her sudden transformation.

They are horrified by the thought of losing the ‘son’ that they had been pressing Alex to be socially and medically since she was born and are utterly unwilling to listen to her even now when the reality of her femininity is clearer than ever. She may not look the same ‘down there’ as other girls, but she knows who she is, and there is no denying the fact.

Another young adult queer hit that makes all of the right marks and touches all of the right subjects in the exact right ways, Alex As Well is beyond inspiring in its tone, narrative of progression and change, and how it handles its characters. YA writers certainly know how to produce books that make us think about the world in fresh new ways, and Alex As Well is a shining example of this.

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

Closing off the list of books with intersex characters with the earnestly named Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite is almost natural – an adjective that can be used to apply to many of the ways that the book makes one feel, and how it presents the tale that it tells to its readers.

Each page brings a curve in a story that is gentle but still emotional and conflict-packed, and each chapter brings new thoughts like a dawning spring. What does gender say about us as people, and what effects does our perception of it have upon others or even ourselves?

Jameson’s parents tell him that he is a boy. Or – at least – that he could be, with the help of surgery and hormones. But they never truly ask ‘him’ if that is what ‘he’ wants. Their respect for Jameson’s wishes is nonexistent in the face of their want to see ‘him’ fit the child they imagined bringing up. Simply put, they never ask Jameson if ‘he’ really wants to change forever into a ‘he’ at all. 

For – despite the ‘Male’ on ‘his’ birth certificate – Jameson grew up as a girl and had no intention to change that about herself until the age of nine when doctors interfered, and his parents began their quest of securing masculinity.

Now that she is 16, keeping the family’s expectations in order is harder than ever, and that’s without saying anything about how Jamie feels. Trapped. Living a lie. For how long must things be like this?

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon - Best Books With Intersex Characters

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