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#1 KrystenH

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 03:01 AM

Hello,

 

So, I'm planning out my second book in the YA fantasy series I'm writing and I'm trying to figure out how to properly and respectfully introduce a trans*woman character. I kind of want to make it clear that she's trans* while also not treating her as some token character who is just there to make me look good. Also, for the record, she was born biologically male, but I always refer to her by her preferred gender. So, I'll give you her background:

 

Her name is Dr. Audrey Bowman and like nearly all my characters, she's a half-dragon--specifically a Silver half-dragon. She's a former military psychologist who was discharged because she was asked to participate in a research program that looked into studying other half-dragons who have had their magic returned to them (in her world, magic use to be common, but went extinct, and now has suddenly returned) and the military want to figure out ways to use these new magic users to their benefit, even if it's not under the most humane ways. Which of course, she refused. So, she leaves and starts a group who look for magic users before the military does or extracts them from military compounds and essentially hides them until they can get new identities or give them support in learning to control and use their new magic. She is basically the founder, leader, coordinator, head teacher (because she can use magic too), therapist, mother figure, or whatever else a person needs.

 

The MC first 'sees' Audrey near the end of the first book (in a video), but doesn't formally meet her until the second. Audrey had been helping the MC's parents with ways to control and confine her magic until she was old enough but blah blah, plot happened. So, MC spends the next book searching for Audrey in order to get her help because she's quite knowledgeable. And before anyone asks, legit, she's not secretly evil or anything. She's always a good guy and seen as a positive character. 

 

So, yeah. I just want to find a way to make it clear that she's trans* without falling into the Rowling trap of revealing it after the series is over only to have many people not consider it canon because it wasn't revealed in the book. I want to do it in the story but I don't know how exactly to get the information in there.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!



#2 Pen

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 09:49 AM

[Deleted my advice; Reason: I will let a member of the LGBTQA Community answer.]



#3 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 04:10 PM

I am not trans, but I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability. I apologize in advance if I accidentally offend someone that is trans. That is not my intention. 

 

One cool thing you could do is after you've written the introduction of the character, ask someone that's trans or knows someone trans to read it. They will give you better advice, probably. Several years ago I was writing in a male POV and I asked my boyfriend at the time to read and give me pointers. He mostly helped. If you don't find anyone on here, you can visit a site specifically for trans people, and kindly ask if anyone would give that part of your story a read.

 

My advice: You know how you can kind of tell when a woman is trans? They're just a little more more "masculine" than "regular" girls. It might be their hands are a little bigger, or they're hips aren't as pronounced, or their hair is a wig, or their face isn't "feminine," and other physical attribute. Depending on the personality of the character, you can give vocal ques (dialog) from the character. Or, you can have the main character give the reader a large hint that she's trans. I know that's "telling" but sometimes for the ease of a story, "telling" the reader something for better understanding of the scene/character.

 

Or, for a fun exercise, look up trans women online, like YouTube and study them. Voice. Posture. Movements. What details about them give away their sexuality? 

 

I would highly suggest getting someone to beta read regardless of which direction you go, just to get the character right. Of course, it's also your story, and you can write characters however you'd like. 

 

Good luck!



#4 KrystenH

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 06:08 PM

Hm, yeah, you see this is kind of where my problem comes in: if say Audrey transitioned prior to puberty (so, during her puberty, she took more female hormones than male and her natural male hormones were suppressed) WOULD she have any male characteristics? I've looked at transwomen and they lie all across the spectrum in masculine vs. feminine physical traits but the only information I'm missing is when they transitioned and that's kind of why I want to ask a trans* person and I was just hoping someone here on AQC could help me or at least point me to somewhere I can ask, Maybe I can go to my school's pride club but I'm so shy and afraid of saying the wrong things and offending someone :S 



#5 Pen

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 07:31 PM

Reddit I had some positive experiences using that service for questions like these. However it's best to know someone who is trans who knows you. Things will go smoother because they'll know you're not trying to start something.

 

And absolute write dot com. This site has a section that is for the LGBTQA community. Be careful how you ask your questions there because they are so used to people attacking them they'll assume you're doing the same before they even give you a chance.

 

I'm going to stop there. Now if you want something from a POC perspective. Let me know. Also note that I'm old school. Meaning I won't twist your good intentions into something they aren't. Let me stop here and shut up.



#6 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 29 November 2016 - 05:39 PM

Hm, yeah, you see this is kind of where my problem comes in: if say Audrey transitioned prior to puberty (so, during her puberty, she took more female hormones than male and her natural male hormones were suppressed) WOULD she have any male characteristics? I've looked at transwomen and they lie all across the spectrum in masculine vs. feminine physical traits but the only information I'm missing is when they transitioned and that's kind of why I want to ask a trans* person and I was just hoping someone here on AQC could help me or at least point me to somewhere I can ask, Maybe I can go to my school's pride club but I'm so shy and afraid of saying the wrong things and offending someone :S 

I have no idea. My question in response is: does a person know that much about their gender identity before puberty to really understand the transition and make that sort of decision? My gay friends all came out in their late teens or early twenties, way past puberty. My belief (could be wrong) is that preteens don't think about that sort of thing too deeply? (Question Mark means I'm not sure. I didn't as a preteen, or I don't remember.)

 

Still, the best advice here is to have a trans someone read it. Or, do some research of hormone therapy. What are the side effects if taken early? I'm sure there's books and books about it out there. 



#7 augustasands

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 12:01 PM

You are definitely in a pickle. Here's my two-cents: How does this work in the span of your world-building? The resonance of Audrey being trans is different if the books exist in a world like ours. If being trans is as notable as having brown hair (or even being half-dragon, in this case), then outright saying "This is my trans character," feels very much like what you said about scoring diversity points.

 

HOWEVER!!

 

Keep in mind that no matter how inclusive your world may seem, it will be read in a world that is not. 

 

You get into a whole culture of passing vs. non-passing, the consent of whether or not Audrey is the one to declare this, if this is even relevant for Audrey to declare, and knowing that it's relevant for the reader to understand. You're right in not wanting to join the ranks of J.K. as far as retconning representation into your stories--it's cheap. 

 

I can't tell you how to handle this until you know what this means in the scope of the world. If it's something extremely casual, you can have Audrey do something like mention a story from before her transition as maybe a cute anecdote (it's not all bad times in the past identity of a trans individual). There's a lot of ways for it to be done. Now, tastefully, you need to really acquaint yourself with this community, otherwise you run a risk of working off of stereotypes. Look into LGBTQ+ literature as well if you can't insert yourself into those communities comfortably yet.

 

A good book about differing perspectives is Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon, which details lots of varying perspectives including A trans perspective (I say a perspective instead of the perspective because people differ no matter what community they're in). There are videos on youtube (think "I Am Jazz"), and countless blogs dedicated to demystifying. There are characters in modern television (Mrs. Hudson in Elementary) who currently, tentatively, exist in the modern scope as well. You should really be utilizing these resources. If they make you uncomfortable to utilize, you may need to do some reflection before you take it upon yourself to write this character.

 

At the end of the day, if you don't want to interact with the population of folks you're trying to give representation, you might not be in the wheelhouse to write that representation.


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