Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words

What does it mean to be young and transgender today? Growing Up Trans shares stories, essays, art and poetry created by trans youth aged 11 to 18. In their own words, the works illustrate the trans experience through childhood, family and daily life, school, their bodies and mental health. Together the collection is a story of the challenges, big and small, of being a young trans person. At the same time, it’s a toolkit for all young people, transgender or not, about what understanding, acceptance and support for the trans community looks like. In addition to the contributed works, there are questions and tips from experts in the field of transgender studies to challenge the reader on how to be a trans ally.

Trans Youth Stories: An Intergenerational Dialogue

The first of its kind, Trans Youth Stories: An Intergenerational Dialogue after the “Trans Tipping Point” is a thematically organized collection of narratives, fiction, nonfiction, letters, poetry, graphics/comics, and visual pieces created by twenty-six Canadian transgender youth between the ages of ten to eighteen. Arranged in sections on childhood, families, bodies, everyday life, schooling, mental health, and acceptance, each section concludes with a response written by a Canadian scholar in transgender studies in conversation with the youth. These responses contextualize the youth pieces with recent scholarship from the field and equip readers with concrete actions for research, activism, and professional practice.

Offering a unique and truthful depiction of young trans life and a holistic view of what it might be like to be a young trans person today, this groundbreaking volume will serve as an essential sourcebook for both students and teachers of gender and sexuality studies, trans studies, child and youth studies, counselling, and education.


“How lucky we are for this collection on what trans means and how trans feels—it’s nothing short of an intergenerational trans wonderland. Readers young and old will smile and shake their heads and say, “I had no idea.” 

Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

“Trans Youth Stories is absolutely incredible. I devoured it, beginning to end. The pieces made me smile, cry, laugh out loud, and feel my heart practically bursting inside my chest with pride and admiration for these young people generously sharing their deeply personal art and stories with us. I think this work is exactly what is needed to further understanding and support for young trans and gender-nonconforming people.” 

Theresa Thorn, co-host of the One Bad Mother podcast and author of It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity

This book is a precious gift and a call to action. With great courage and generosity, the youth have offered their truths, beautifully expressed through words and images. These will be powerful resources for my patients and their families and should become required reading for future health professionals and educators. It has the potential to inspire those of us without lived experience of gender diversity to examine our biases, listen well, and commit to walking alongside trans, gender-diverse, and Two-Spirit youth in our work and in our communities.     

– Marria Townsend, MD, CCFP, Medical Director, Trans Care BC, Provincial Health Services Authority 

“Voice matters. In a world that too often silences, sensationalises and simplifies trans youth experiences, Trans Youth Stories is a vital tonic. A vibrant collection that powerfully shares the everyday moments, feelings, and challenges of being and becoming trans, with guiding questions and resources to find out more. Dive into the diversity and enjoy this open dialogue with the experiences of trans youth in their own words.” 

EJ Renold, Professor of Childhood Studies, Cardiff University

“This book uniquely combines the experience of trans youth with the understanding of adult researchers.  “Strength is not ignoring the hurt, it’s softening into it and living through it,” Riley writes.  Trans youth will see their experience of transphobia and resilience mirrored in the book, and adult allies will find context and explanation.  A stunning resource.”

 – Barbara Findlay QC

Trans Youth Stories is an illuminating window into the diverse lives of our trans and gender creative youth. They share outstanding stories of self-discovery, bravery, and resilience as they deal with navigating gender journeys, discrimination, mental health difficulties, families, and school life.  Family members, care providers, teachers, and youth should read Trans Youth Stories to understand the lived experiences of our trans and gender creative kids.

Dr. Charles Ho, MD, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, BC Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic

“Beguiling, provoking, unsettling, generative, this book takes us into the becoming of trans youth. Their words and art are connected through commentary to scholarship in trans studies, histories, literatures and practice to illuminating effect.  An invaluable resource for all those working with, caring for and about trans youth and issues – and for anyone interested in the exuberant, gender-troubling creativity and insight with which trans youth invent themselves. In their own words: a unique, a wonderful thing… a work of art.” 

Sara Bragg, Centre for Sociology of Education and Equity, University College London

“It is so incredibly important that trans youth tell their own stories and are able to see themselves reflected – this book is an absolutely gorgeous and inspiring example just how resilient and beautiful our young people are. Our young people are the future, and it’s certainly looking bright.”

Fox and Owl, My Genderation

“Trans Youth Stories makes an important addition to the literature on trans and non-binary youth experiences. Each theme centres trans voices from start to end and is commented on by trans scholars who offer thoughtful reflections on possible ways forward to better support and accompany young people on their journey as growing human beings. Trans Youth Stories should be included in all school curricula as it provides powerful material to discuss issues related to gender identity and gender expression in various contexts.”

– Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, Professor and Canada Research Chair on Transgender Children and their Families, School of Social Work, Université de Montréal 

“In creating a narrative that goes beyond “those of tragedy or triumph,” Trans Youth Stories has filled a glaring gap in the catalogue of writings about transgender and other gender diverse young people. Highlighting many of the unique gender-related experiences of these amazing kids, the book also demonstrates that our trans youth have complex and full lives beyond their own gender journeys. In so doing, they help to inform the reader’s appreciation for the unique gender of all young people.” 

Joel Baum, MS, Gender Spectrum

“This is a one-of-a-kind resource for Trans youth and their communities. Written for, with and about the experience of trans youth and adolescence, the texts gathered here highlight the struggle of learning to live at odds with gender norms. Buy one for your kids, keep one for yourself. Lend it out, share its wisdom, hold it close.”

Jack Halberstam, author of Trans*

“This book is exactly what the world needs right now. We’ve heard from doctors, we’ve heard from parents, we’ve heard from teachers. It’s time we hand over the mic to trans kids themselves. And this book does that so beautifully. It’s a tome full of inspiring resilience and determination. It’s a perfect ‘it gets better’ collection.” 

Justin Tindall, MPH, It Gets Better Project

“Trans Youth Stories reshapes preconceived notions by providing a space for trans youth to be themselves. These stories inform and uplift. In other words, they show trans youth as more than their oppression. Trans Youth Stories is a powerful tool in reshaping the stories we believe to be true by sharing the stories we live to tell.” 

Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER)

“The collection of stories, poems and artwork in Growing Up Trans provides the reader with insight into the maelstrom of ups and downs, fears and triumphs, self-reflections and affirmations that is the lived experience of many trans youth. The contributing authors and artists have generously shared their deeply personal, witty, insightful and sometimes dead-silly thoughts and musings, and the reader will hopefully get a sense of the vast panoply of identities and the hard-fought resilience that have emerged as these youth come to be the person they see inside” 

Dr. Daniel L. Metzger, Pediatric Endocrinologist, BC Children’s Hospital, Clinical Professor, University of British Columbia

“This book’s publication is timely. Gender diverse young people including those who are trans and non-binary now feature frequently in the media. Their medical care, which is vital for many of them, is undergoing intense scrutiny through Court hearings and major reviews. So far, the voices of these young people themselves have scarcely featured in the debates. This fine book will help to redress that imbalance. It contains valuable first-hand testimonies of these young people’s feelings and experiences, expressed in prose, and poetry, as well as graphically. The book is hugely enriched by the inclusion of a vast array of references to other relevant material. It also includes practical guidance for families and professionals supporting these young people.” 

Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES)

“Each voice in Trans Youth Stories uniquely and eloquently conveys the trans youth experience. And that experience is not solely one of crisis and transition—there are many ways to be trans, and this book is about listening to trans youth, honoring their experiences, and uplifting their knowledge. A must-read!” 

Kathie Moehlig, Founder, TransFamily Support Services