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Writing Transgender Characters

Transgender FlagI’m getting ready to start another story, my first with a transgender character. The character’s gender identity as a man will be central to the storyline.

I am excited to write it, and also a bit nervous – any time you write something you don’t know intimately yourself, you run the risk of either doing it poorly, or of offending the group you are writing about.

Still, I think it’s worth the risk. We should always challenge ourselves in our writing, And sure, I may not (probably won’t) write this character as well as someone who is actually transgender, I will learn from the experience, and maybe do the next one a little better.

Have you ever written a character (especially a main character) who is transgender? Have you dealt with where we will be as a society on the issue in the near or distant future in your sci fi?

And what were the pitfalls or rewards of writing this kind of character for you?

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8 thoughts on “Writing Transgender Characters”

  1. Best of luck with this!
    I did a short novel called Truckee Wolves: Toxic in which the mother of the human heroine is a trans-woman. The book was actually a re-issue of a novella I’d released years before and I was expanding it for re-release. As I started creating Dionne Theale on the page, it quickly became clear that she was a trans woman. In the end, I had to wrestle her for control of the book because she was that strong! LOL!

    Anyhow, the reader’s response to her was interesting. This was a het romance, and really fairly vanilla, so it surprised me how popular the character was. In fact, there were many, many requests for Dionne to have her own book. It turned out to be my most reviewed book ever, and in the dozens…possibly hundreds of reviews that landed in my inbox, only two were negative regarding Dionne’s sexual identity.

    Yes, I will be writing her as the lead in her own story; I’m not sure when but when I do, it should be fun. :)

  2. I’ve never written a trans character, I don’t honestly think I’m up to the challenge yet and a story hasn’t suggested itself to me, but I have just finished a historical where one of the protagonists derives a real sense of power from cross-dressing. Naturally I’m scared stiff of showing it to anyone.

  3. Write stories unlived, which then build plots that do not have full knowledge, they are difficult and should think about it.
    We must, meanwhile, study well the character, informed and knowing who he is and what it represents today in society, then, even through indirect experiences or interviews, trying to understand things that you can hardly write then. In doing so, the story, though fictional, be credible, and therefore expendable readable.

  4. I’ve known that fear of writing a character outside my own experiences. It took remembering that human emotion is universal to alleviate that fear for me. I think there’s a lot of hesitation toward writing about trans characters that doesn’t need to be there.

    As the boyfriend of a transman, I hesitated and then worried when I handed over the manuscript for him to read it. While it wasn’t true to his exact experiences (on purpose), he said it was a story about a gay man who society had once incorrectly labeled as female. I’ve come to understand that correcting that label and living the proper life is only part of the trans journey, that everything else is universal.

    Learn the language, talk and explore, but then you’ll do as you always do and write what you know.

  5. I’m in edits currently for The Ladyboy Chronicles: Illusions & Dreams.

    I think it’s important to understand where the issues are & having the address them.

    Instantly my title could set people in the West off (with good reason… it set me off) but it’s set in Thailand & I had to use a character being uncomfortable with the term have someone explain it to him that ladyboy is a term some aspire to…

    I always hope I’m bringing a bit of knowledge or understanding to the reader whose never met someone’s who is transgender.

    But also acknowledging your character is unique and doesn’t have to fit into someone else’s vision. (My sweet innocent Boon-nam has the body she’s always known was hers… but just cause she’s sweet doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to explore her kinky side…) However, you need to be able to ensure your reader is with you so s/he can understand why your character is a certain way.

    (>>> still on meds from oral surgery lol)

    Hugs, Z.


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