Another crosspost from my instagram, this time for Lesbian Visibility Week. It has been a while since I read some of these, so I may be misremembering and accidentally including some mspec protags instead of just lesbian rep, but they're all definitely sapphic!
[Image: a series of edits all with the lesbian flag as a background with a semi-transparent white square overlaid to make the text more easily read. The first one has text reading “5 Star Lesbian Reads.”
The next image has the cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It has an orange background and a castle with one tall tower. The tower has a blue dragon wrapped around it. Accompanying text reads “In the West, dragons are feared and hated. Ead is tasked with protecting a queen whose bloodline supposedly prevents dragons from rising. In the East, dragons are celebrated. Tane has trained her whole life to be a dragon rider. Their lives will come together to prevents chaos from rising across the world.” Above the cover, the book is labeled “fantasy.”
The next image has the cover of Dreadnought by April Daniels. It has the silhouette of a woman standing in front of a cityscape and a colorful sky. She is wearing a blue cape billowing in the wind. The text reads “A closeted trans teenager inherits the powers of the world’s most popular superhero, and part of the powers transform her to her ideal self. She must then deal with being outed by her transformation and also inheriting the hero’s nemesis.” Above the cover, the book is labeled “superhero.”
The next image has the cover of The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar. vIt has a drawing of two girls looking at each other and touching hands over a pink background. The girl on the left has brown skin and eyes and black, wavy hair, She also has a nose ring. The girl on the right has black skin, brown eyes, and black, curly hair. They both have intricate henna designs on their hands. The text next to it reads “Nishat is crushing hard on a classmate but trying to stay in the closet. When the school has a contest for students to start small businesses and her crush starts a culturally appropriative henna business, she becomes even more conflicted.” Text above the cover labels it “contemporary.”
The next image has the cover of This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It has a cardinal with a bluejay reflected underneath it over a light blue background. The accompanying text reads “Agents on opposite ends of a war across time and space leave notes taunting each other, but slowly develop a fondness for each other.” Text above the cover labels it “sci fi.”
The next image has the cover of The Seep by Chana Porter. It shows a bouquet of flowers with three hands also emerging from it over a black background. The text next to it reads “Aliens peacefully invade, bringing world changing technology. Trina breaks down and must relearn how to navigate the world when her wife uses the tech to turn herself into a baby.” The text above labels it “sci fi.”
The next image has the cover of Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West. It shows two women. The one on the left has short, greying hair and is wearing a suit. She is sitting in an armchair with a cane resting against it and is holding a leash connected to the other woman’s collar. The woman on the right has long, black, wavy hair and a flower tattoo. She wears a collar, dress, and leather cuffs. She is kneeling on a pillow. There are dishes scattered in front of them, a table holding a menorah with six lit candles is behind them, and a list is taped to the wall. The text reads “Sex educator and sub Leah gifts her newly divorced and novice dom best friend Jordan 8 lessons on kink for Channukah.” The text above the cover labels it “romance.”
The final image has the cover for Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. It shows a flailing, grayscale arm with blood pouring out of it and spreading as though in water over a black background. The text next to it reads “A group of scientists and media personnel are recruited to investigate the loss of a ship that was filming a mockumentery when they were supposedly attacked by mermaids.” The text above the cover labels it “horror.” End.]
Hello! Please recommend other "genderweird stories." I'm always looking for more stuff like EGS.
"Like EGS” is a tall order - it does a whole lot of fun things with gender, heavily exploring both fantastical magic stuff and complicated real-world identities. Other stories I know tend to be more narrow in one or both regards, so it’ll depend a lot on what specifically you’re looking for.
Incidentally, for anyone not familiar with EGS (El Goonish Shive), I recommend checking out the post I made two days ago for its 20th anniversary.
Anyway, here’s some things that come to mind out of stories I’ve enjoyed:
Ranma 1/2 probably needs no introduction, as a well-known classic genderbending story. I started watching the anime just this past week - I haven’t gotten far yet, but it’s very funny. It’s a lot older than the rest of this list, giving it a particularly distinct feel which makes for a really interesting change of pace.
Fabiniku (”Fantasy Bishoujo Juniku Ojisan to”, aka “Life With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy Knockout”) is a much newer genderbending series, about two friends who get pulled into a fantasy world and are now trying not to fall in love. The manga has been running for a couple of years, while the anime (which is what I’ve been following) started just this past month. It’s extremely funny, and the writing and visuals are beautiful. (I heard about Fabiniku from following @demilypyro, who’s been posting a lot about it and other anime and manga in this vein. If you’re looking for more, she’s likely to be a good source.)
Narcissist, Coward, Fool, and Traitor is a fantasy web novel about a team of four incompetent adventurers. Includes a lot of gender-related magic and exploration of the fantasy setting’s take on trans issues, particularly in the story’s first act. Features quite possibly the funniest (and kinkiest) trans character I’ve ever seen.
Doing God's Work is a web novel about an organization of gods across the pantheons, from the perspective of Loki and their faction of rebellious gods. This setting’s take on Loki is a lot of fun, and puts their shapeshifting powers to a great deal of use.
Misfile is one of the early transformation webcomics I read, before even EGS. I haven’t kept up with it in about a decade, but it still has a special place in my heart, and thinking back to it now, I may have to read the rest of it one of these days. The main character is Ash Upton, a high school street racer whose personal information was accidentally edited by a careless angel.
SGVY (Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki) is another transformation webcomic I read around the same time as Misfile, and have a lot of similar feelings about. It’s about Yuuki, a guy who gets turned into a valkyrie to fight monsters, and is an extremely silly magical girl parody. Seems the original site is no longer available.
Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is an anime movie about a guy and girl who periodically swap bodies while living far apart, and have to find ways to communicate and work together. One of the most popular anime movies ever, which I hadn’t realized until looking it up again while writing this, but I can believe it.
Those are the ones that really play around with gender-related transformation stuff. Some other stories I’ve really enjoyed that aren’t necessarily “genderweird” per se, but have neat portrayals of major trans/nb characters:
Dreadnought and its sequel Sovereign are a series of superhero novels about a trans girl who inherits the powers of the strongest hero. She also gets a new body in the process, resulting in some interesting complications. It’s one of my favorite book series, and the characters are wonderful disasters - in particular the main character, Danielle Tozer, is a delightful ball of rage. There’s a third book planned to complete the trilogy, although it’s been taking a while.
High Guardian Spice is a magic school cartoon that released its first season a few months ago. It’s about several girls at a magic school, including Snapdragon, a closeted trans girl who begins to consider magical means of transition. Apparently its inclusion of trans characters has lead to a lot of people trying to sabotage it by spamming bad ratings, but the show itself is adorable.
Ikenfell is an RPG also set in a magic school, with a charming and very queer cast and a playable character lineup including multiple flavors of nonbinary. It’s a lot of fun and has a neat grid-based battle system, as well as great music made by the same people who did the music for Steven Universe.
Venus Envy is an old webcomic about Zoe, a trans girl going through high school and encountering a variety of forms of trouble. Frequently very unsettling, in some fascinating ways. Lot of content warnings here, probably more than anything else on this list.
Kanojo ni Naritai Kimi to Boku (”I Wanna Be Your Girl”) is a manga about a high school girl and the friend she’s in love with, who’s a trans girl. It’s really cute and does a lot of exploring attitudes around queer topics. It’s the only story on this list not to have any fantastical elements (although counting Venus Envy is debatable).
Mask of Shadows is a two-book fantasy novel series about Sal, a genderfluid thief who joins an assassination competition while seeking influence and revenge. I’ve only read the first book so far, but I’m planning on reading the second next week.
The Murderbot Diaries is a sci-fi book series (currently five novellas and one full novel) about “Murderbot”, a delightful agender cyborg built to work in security, and the humans and other AIs it reluctantly bonds with. Has a prequel mini-story posted here.
Infinity Train is a cartoon about a magic train that draws people onto it and compels them to solve a series of puzzles. It doesn’t technically have anything concrete, but I have to give it a mention here since pretty much everyone I’ve seen has interpreted the second season’s main character as transmasculine. Great show, and I’m still bitter about it getting canceled.
Wayward Children (by @seananmcguire) is an ongoing fantasy series that recently released its seventh novel. It’s about a school for kids who’ve gone through doors to fantastical other worlds and now have returned home, changed by the experience. It’s got a lot of great characters - a major recurring character is Kade, a trans boy, and more recent books also feature Regan, an intersex girl.
Zombieland Saga is an anime about seven girls who’ve been raised from the dead as zombies and are trying to become idols. It’s cute and funny and very ridiculous, and the team includes Lily Hoshikawa, an adorable trans girl.
Also I can’t pass up the chance to mention my own story, Blood Knight! It’s a short fantasy novella about the absolute disaster of a trans girl in my icon.
I’d be interested in hearing any other recommendations anyone else wants to add, as well!