1. babygirl666

    babygirl666 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2

    Writing Accurate Trans Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by babygirl666, May 15, 2018.

    Hello! I am writing a story featuring a trans female character. I initially planned to not discuss her being trans very much, because the story is not centered around her being trans (aka its not a coming out sroty), and I didn't consider it a driving plot point.
    HOWEVER, in deciding to give her a cis male love interest, it became a driving plot point, as she has previously mainly been in relationships with other trans and nonbinary people!!!!!! I want to write this character as true to the experience of trans people, but I am worried that by touching on certain subjects or not touching on certain subjects I will devalue the struggle of many many people. For example, I don't want to talk about whether or not she's had any surgeries, but I do want to talk about feelings of body dysmorphia as a result of her relationship with a cis man!
    Anyway!! Any tips on how to write an accurate trans character would be GREAT!! I am also a queer cis woman and am slightly hesitant about writing experiences that are not mine! Responses from trans ppl + nonbinary/genderfluid/genderqueer ppl would be AMAZING but the floor is open to everyone, because i think it's overall important to discuss!
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    3,859
    Location:
    SC, USA
    "How to write a trans character" is pretty broad, so I'm going to focus in on this:

    Why does the fact that she's trans become a driving plot point because she's dating a cis man?

    What was the plot about before? Is it plot actually affected by the fact that she's dating a cis guy? Are you just using it as a springboard for talking more about the fact that she's trans? She need not necessarily have her dysphoria exacerbated by dating a cis guy, so I'm curious as to why this is the direction you've decided to take things when the story was not, previously, about her being trans. I don't know anything about your story, so I'm not saying it's a bad direction to take it in, I'm just not really seeing the link.

    I'm leery of cis writers tackling the actual experience of being trans -- in this case talking about dysphoria. That doesn't mean 'don't do it' and I appreciate that you're going into it looking to first do your research. But if your story isn't about being trans, I'm wondering if it would be better served by focusing on the plot itself, and just letting her be trans incidentally. Personally, I'm much more interested in stories about queer people that aren't strictly about being queer (things like coming out stories, as you mention).
     
  3. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    712
    Likes Received:
    741
    Well, the last time I checked, trans people were people. Try writing them as a person first.
     
  4. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2017
    Messages:
    700
    Likes Received:
    1,421
    Location:
    Kennel
    Here's some resources, if anyone wants them.
    The top comment I see, over and over again (from both cisgender readers and trans readers) is "make them an interesting character." I saw that comment over, and over, and over again.

    This is just anecdotal. But one of my favorite podcats (The Adventure Zone) had a trans character. Her name was Lup (pronounced "Loop"). She was sassy... brilliant... kind of self-absorbed... a bit romantic... she was kind of a jerk, but she generally tried to do the right thing. She was complicated and interesting. She was trans, but it was a very small part of her identity.

    Anyway, she wound up becoming wildly popular. Honestly, yeah, I think that's the trick. For some people, their background is a core part of their identity. For other people, it's not.
     
    babygirl666, izzybot and Simpson17866 like this.
  5. babygirl666

    babygirl666 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    WOW thank you for this response! definitely what I needed to be able to pull back a little bit as an author and see things from a broader perspective! For context, this character was originally a minor character in another story where her being trans is mentioned offhandedly and not brought up again. I liked writing her so much that I decided to write something focused on her! The story featuring her is about a for-hire psychic business so you're right, the plot isn't really affected by her relationship with the cis guy because it's about ghosts! And I had planned for her to let him know she was trans early in their relationship, and it would only be a small moment. I guess I am definitely just apprehensive of telling this kind of story as I don't have the experience, and feeling like I have to talk about it more than may be necessary to compensate. Thank you for the response though, I think it will definitely help my story to keep a plot focus rather than try to get too deep into something I don't really know about!!! Super helpful, thank you!
     
    CoyoteKing likes this.
  6. babygirl666

    babygirl666 New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    haha you got me there! definitely am focusing too much on identity and background rather than actual goals/motives/personality of my character to move the story forwards! thanks for the response! :)
     
    CoyoteKing likes this.
  7. PixelOwl

    PixelOwl Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2017
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Abbotsford, BC, Canada
    Hello, transperson here who knows about a dozen other transpeople in the community. From experience: everyone is totally different! Some are very confident in their trans identities and some are not. Most are upfront about the gender identity when entering a new relationship, but some prefer to wait until they feel there's a good moment/it comes up more naturally. A trend I've noticed is that it strongly depends on how long she's been out to her circles--even if she hasn't started to transition, she might have known for a while and gotten comfortable enough with it that she's okay bringing it up casually. Or if it's a new and unpredictable thing, she might try harder to identify as a woman than as a transwoman. You have to take a look at her character and decide what kind of person she is and what she's gone through thus far c:

    Despite my identity, I've only written two trans characters before (in separate stories) and only one was sexually active--and that was with a cisperson. He had come out to this partner later in their relationship after the "I love you"s had been said because he didn't feel confident enough to trust this person until then, even though they had been friends before they became lovers. When I wrote about their first time together, I avoided mention of specific body parts and instead focused on the emotional connection between them, which a lot of readers--trans and otherwise--seemed to agree with. It was one of the most popular stories I posted online, actually!

    All in all, lots of great advice here. Just treat her as any other character for the most part, and when the topic comes up, I'd say just be cautious when it comes to word choice c:
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,490
    Likes Received:
    3,956
    I wrote a trans character before. It was after really getting to know a trans woman. In real life, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from getting to know this person or the friendship. But she was kind and smart and pretty. She was not exactly the sort of trans woman that people would mistake for someone born female, but that's not what she was after. Being trans was part of her identity and she just wanted people to accept that and accept who she was. So, my trans character was somewhat like her. I gave her the short story to read when I finished it. She couldn't wait. She had to read it right in front of me. I watched her read it. She smiled several times and said she was quite fond of my trans character. I don't think it would have been as authentic if I hadn't become close to someone who is trans, though, the story is not about her at all.

    That story is one of the best I think I've done. And it's not a coming out story and it's not a story about being trans, but there is a trans character who is important to the story for other reasons than being trans. Since getting to know a real trans woman and writing my story, I have started volunteering with trans youth in my area. I am very close to a lot of these kids. I accept their chosen genders, which sadly for a lot of them the other adults in their lives don't always feel the same way. I'm not trans myself, but feel free to ask questions or direct message me if you think I can help. I could always ask the kids something for you if you thought that would help out your story in some way.

    I just want to add that I think it's great that you are writing a trans character. I would like to see more of these sorts of characters in fiction. I would just make sure that you have a character that couldn't easily be swapped out for a cis character. Really make sure your trans character unmistakably belongs in the story you are writing. But I will say I think you're approaching this the right way. Trans people are so much more than coming out stories and stories that start to seem cliche about their gender choices.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,490
    Likes Received:
    3,956
    I just wanted to share a quick story about a young person I work with. This young person has gone back and forth between genders. They will respond to he or she but has a bit of a somewhat-secret preference. Tonight, I was invited to watch a bunch of my middle school kids give a chorus performance. At one point all the girls were on stage. Then they all went off the stage and the boys went up. My young friend was allowed to stay on the stage and sing with both groups and was very happy about this. It was a really amazing thing. I was quite impressed on how the chorus teacher chose to handle this. These sort of things can make such a difference in a young persons life. I know this has nothing to do with the OP or the topic, really, but I wanted to share this with someone, with everyone.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  10. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2018
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    80
    I would agree. Especially since her being trans isn't a driving plot point, just write a character, then add in the trans part.
     
  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    4,490
    Likes Received:
    3,956
    That is exactly what you don't want to do, and, in my opinion, the wrong thing to say.
     
    babygirl666 and John Calligan like this.
  12. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,605
    Likes Received:
    1,679
    Good thread. Important stuff to learn about.
     
    babygirl666 likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice