4 Bold Trans Women Poets You Should Read

In today’s political and social climate, reading queer and trans poets is more vital than ever. Their voices and perspectives help us to interrogate society, see the personal element within the current debates and cases swirling around trans rights, and have the courage and will to fight for a more just future. While there’s an endless and ever-growing list of queer writers to admire and learn from, you can get started by reading the words of these four award-winning trans women poets. 


Torrin A. Greathouse


For her debut poetry collection Wound from the Mouth of a Wound, Torrin A. Greathouse has won both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.. This collection built upon the themes of Greathouse’s individually published poems, illustrating and honoring bodies the world doesn’t often see as worthy and endowing them with power. For Greathouse, this includes trans bodies, disabled bodies, and others often viewed as fragile. Greathouse examines and upholds this fragility, refusing to see it as a flaw. Greathouse is also known for taking risks with form, even developing what she calls the “burning haibun.”

Want to check out some of Greathouse’s online work? Read “On Confinement,” published in Poetry Magazine, and “My Mouth Is the Mouth of a River” in Redivider. 


Joshua Jennifer Espinoza


Joshua Jennifer Espinoza has published four collections of poetry, including the forthcoming collection I Don’t Want to Be Understood. In this collection, Espinoza finds comfort, courage, and themes of identity within nature, connecting the violence that trans women face to the human destruction and terror leveled at the environment and the natural world. Just as Espinoza connects with this darkness, she also connects with nature’s lightness, embarking on the task of tending and caring for herself and her community.

To get familiar with Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s work, check out “The Sunset and the Purple-Flowered Tree” and “It Is Important to Be Something.”


Jos Charles


Jos Charles has won the National Poetry Series and the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, plus founded the literary journal THEM, the first trans literary journal in the United States. Her most recent poetry collection, A Year & Other Poems, viscerally depicts how someone searches for a better life in the midst of destruction. The poems unfold in the context of California wildfires, the ongoing housing crisis, and anti-trans legislation. Charles reckons with if salvation and hope are still possible, as well as what these forces would look and feel like.

Recent poems by Charles have appeared online in The Adroit Journal and The Spectacle.


Kay Gabriel


Kay Gabriel served as a co-editor of We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her book A Queen in Bucks County is an epistolary, genre-bending work that follows a queer protagonist’s nomadic, turbulent life through the Northeast Corridor. The work is a surprising look at how verse can be a way of exploring character and plot.

Gabriel’s poem “Like, Comma, Like” is available to read online at 

Happy reading!