Reply To: Hello. I’m an author looking for help


Hi All,

I don’t know whether a post like this is a major faux pas, or if I’m even welcome here at all, so here goes…

I’m an author of fantasy stories, and I am trying to learn how to faithfully represent transgender people in my work.
I do not really have anyone irl that I can ask about this. I have a number of transgender colleagues and friends at my day job, but our relationships aren’t really at the point where such a conversation wouldn’t be awkward (especially over Zoom).

At this point, I’m struggling with how to even introduce a transgender character without it seeming clunky at best or completely offensive at worst. For instance, yesterday I was reading a book that introduced a character like this: ”Mariana had once been a man named Jared. But her gender and sexuality were as fluid as the waters beneath them. Over time, she’d taken on a new name.”  This is only two paragraphs after you first see her. It’s straightforward, but to me it doesn’t seem great.

Does anyone have some good insight or better examples of how to introduce a transgender character? fwiw, I personally tend toward a universalist approach to representation. In my writing that means I prefer that the fact that a character is transgender is an <i>important</i> characteristic, especially as it relates to their motivations, but not their defining characteristic.

If this post is completely unwelcome, out of touch, or offensive, I sincerely apologize. Please kindly tell me to buzz off and I will.

If this strikes a note with you, I really look forward to what you have to say. More than anything, I want the introduction of my characters to feel real and satisfying without doing damage to the transgender community.

I am not offended by this post. Rather, I find it refreshing. Since I came to recognize that I am a transgender woman earlier this year I have been in the process of trying to understand the journey to this point – did I already have moments of clarity followed by denial (yes up to a point), why I did not admit it to myself and proceed from there and any number of other things. What changed? I discovered just how much I love dresses. Wish I could come out more than the little I am so I could wear them a lot rather than just in limited situations. All that sort of stuff. So It seems to me if you could add some of this part of the journey, even if it’s brief, it could go a long way to authenticating the character. My experience with others is that this is an important (though not the most important) part of their journey. Good luck. – Abby.

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