Literature is perhaps one of the most powerful pieces of media in human civilization. It can influence an entire mass of people into thinking or believing a certain idea, but it can also empower writers and readers. This has happened countless time throughout history: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe empowered abolitionists to fight for the abolishment of slavery and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft empowered feminists to expand women’s rights. This influence of literature has always been strong, but in the modern era, can literature be used to give a voice to those fighting for the next social rights issue with LGBTQ+ people? The answer is it already has: Literature has already allowed non-binary people to share their opinions on the world around them.
Tommy Pico is a prime example of a non-binary author who has found a voice through literature. When asked what was the first book that he saw himself in, Pico says The Bridge to Terabithia, as one of the characters, Leslie, was a non-binary character. This representation allows for people to see their experiences as legitimate and justified. When I was speaking with members of the class about childrens’ books that they remember, all the books that were mentioned either influenced their personalities or had their personalities and lifestyles represented in the text. This connection between representation and memory isn’t a coincidence. To see oneself represented in literature allows for them to feel recognized and worthy of discussion. This ability for literature to be used as recognition is exactly how non-binary gender expressions have found a voice. Seeing themselves being represented in literature allows them to be and feel recognized by society and their opinions as valid.
However, literature can not only allow for readers to see themselves, but it can also allow them to understand the prejudice in their society so they can combat it. Books can not only be a story to immerse oneself in, but they can also be an opportunity to learn about the world around them. My father is a very avid reader, whom I often go to for book requests whenever I want to start a new book, and he always reads nonfiction books that tell true stories of inventions, people or aspects of culture throughout history. He is an example of someone who reads to understand the world around