Some days it feels like the world is on fire (not at all helped by the literal plumes of smoke recently hanging over the East Coast). Trans and non-binary individuals have been historically overlooked in the media and actively attacked in the political arena. While trans representation may have improved, it seems like lawmakers have dedicated themselves to making the real world worse. Now, more than ever, it is important to uplift the voices of trans and non-binary creators, shining a spotlight on gripping stories told from a unique perspective.
While there are countless talented and unique trans and non-binary authors I wanted to include on this list, alas, there is only so much time in the day. But have fun exploring the tip of the iceberg. Here are seven trans and non-binary horror authors to fill up your bookshelves!
Poppy Z. Brite/Billy Martin (he/him)
Published under the pen name Poppy Z. Brite, Billy Martin sold his first short story, "Optional Music for Voice and Piano" to The Horror Show magazine at just 18 years old. Successfully selling them a few more stories, Martin was soon featured in their 1987 "Rising Star" issue.
Pushing forward with his success, Martin then wrote his first novel, Lost Souls. Slogging through an array of jobs ranging from mouse caretaker to stripper, he sold his polarizing book to Dell, which signed him on to a three-book contract. Drawing Blood and the short story collection Wormwood were published within a few years, but as Martin finished his third contracted book, Exquisite Corpse, the extreme subject matter saw Dell and Martin's UK publisher, Penguin rejecting the story.
Exquisite Corpse would eventually land at Simon & Schuster (US) and Orion (UK), and Martin would, oddly enough, be asked to pen the biography of Courtney Love by the rock icon herself. What followed was a gripping horror career built on countless captivating scares.
However, in 2004, Martin published his book Liquor, which marked his departure from horror writing.
Julya Oui (she/her)
Julya Oui is a Malaysian author who has also done work for the stage and screen. After teaching herself the craft of writing, she got her start by self-publishing short stories. In 2011, her first book, Bedtime Stories From the Dead of Night, was published by MPH Group.
Oui published a gripping trio of books called the Nightmares, Monsters & Horrors Triptych from 2014 to 2016, and in 2019 she was included in the anthology The Principal Girl: Feminist Tales From Asia.
In 2021, Penguin Books published her work, Taiping Tales of Terror, which feature stories that honor not only Oui's hometown but also her favorite horror writers. The tales range from a were-tiger on a quest for vengeance to a vampire that has slaughtered an entire village.
Hailey Piper (she/her)
Hailey Piper is a prolific author of horror short stories, and her long-form works have generated quite a buzz. Her first novella, The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, was published in 2018, and while the title is currently out of print, it's set to return in 2024 via Rooster Republic Press.
In 2020, Piper released a gripping novella that had more than a few heads turning. Benny Rose the Cannibal King follows a small Vermont town in the fall of 1987, when a high school junior, Desiree St. Fleur, decides to pull a prank based on the local legend. But a bit of harmless fun turns deadly when a violent storm rolls in, tossing Desiree and her friends into a fight for their lives.
Piper's debut novel, Queen of Teeth, was published in 2021. This story, which pushes vagina dentata way beyond its limits, took home the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.
You can also find her work in anthology collections like The Book of Queer Saints, Your Body is Not Your Body, Not All Monsters, Les Petites Morts: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales and Folklore, and more.
Lor Gislason (they/he)
Lor Gislason is a Canadian author who began talking about works of horror on their blog, and turned that fascination with the macabre into a writing career. Their editorial work can be found on Castle of Chills, Hear Us Scream, Horror Obsessive, and beyond.
Gislason published their debut novella, Inside Out in 2022. Paying homage to the hyper-gross horror of the 80s, this story centers on a horrific infection that rapidly spreads across the globe, melting people into monsters.
Joe Koch (he/they)
Joe Koch is a talented author of twisted and surreal tales. He was a 2019 Shirley Jackson Award finalist for his novelette, The Couvade, and has published more than 80 short stories across anthologies and journals.
Find his short stories in collections like Shredded: A Sports and Fitness Body Horror Anthology, ANTIFA SPLATTERPUNK, and What One Wouldn't Do: An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go To.
He is also a co-editor of Weirdpunk Books' art horror anthology Stories of the Eye.
Rivers Solomon (fae/faer & they/them)
An American author living abroad in the UK, Rivers Solomon gleefully crosses the division of horror and fantasy in faer writing. Solomon comes from an impressive background, having gotten faer BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Texas at Austin.
In 2018, faer debut novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts, won the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses' Firecracker Award in Fiction. Faer second novel, The Deep, took home the Lambda Literary Award in 2020. Sorrowland, faer third novel, won the 2021 Otherwise Award.
Find more of faer work in collections like The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One, Death in the Mouth: Original Horror by People of Color, and Tor.com Short Fiction Summer 2019.
Cassandra Khaw (they/them)
Cassandra Khaw is a Malaysian author who has also gained notoriety in game writing and tech journalism. As well as penning gripping horror works, their talent also occupies space in the science fiction genre.
For those who can't get enough of Khaw, their video game writing can be found in games like Gotham Knights and Wasteland 3. They've also worked on notable TTRPGS, like Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep.
In 2015, they published their debut novel, Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef, but they are perhaps best known for their 2021 novella, Nothing But Blackened Teeth.
Find them in short story collections like Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror, Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, and When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson.
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