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I Need Some Serious Help!

G Younger
Updated:

I posted this as a blog, but I thought you might be able to help me...

I try to stay current in my Stupid Boy stories. My main editor helps me out with this kind of stuff. He suggested that I need a transgender character. I looked into it and I'm confused.

First off, how do I write about a character like this? How do you refer to them? I mean part of the time they would be a he and then when they dressed as a girl I would probably say she, but would that confuse the reader? Is there a transgender word for he/she. My first instinct was to use he/she, but I was informed I would probably offend a lot of people, I mean like everyone. I really try to be enlightened and figure to each his own, but I need some guidance on this.

I was sent to read about Bruce Jenner. He/she was introduced in an article as Caitlyn Marie Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner. Does that mean that the character just switches names at some point, and is never referred by their old name? Is it a permanent change? Would readers be confused if I suddenly changed Wolf to Betty? I think the best solution might be to choose Kelly and have him use Kelly as his girl name ... but I already have a girl Kelly!

That brings up another issue. Who should become transgender? If I follow real life then David's dad should be the choice. I saw where Caitlyn/Bruce won awards for being brave. Maybe his dad could win some kind of father of the year award, but would he qualify for that? Would he still be David's father? I would think so, but I don't want to assume anything.

Other choices would be one of the gay characters, because I would assume you would have to be somewhat gay to dress up like a woman all the time. Or is that even true? Should I pick a straight character for shock value? One of my editors suggested Tracy. Are there transgender women?

I should probably just stop now and ask everyone to email me and give me advice on how I should go about doing this. Also, if you could, tell me who should be my transgender character and why. I want to thank everyone for their help in advance.

G Younger

Edit: Happy April Fools Day!

I really do need serious help! I think I went off my meds today... have a great day!

awnlee jawking

@G Younger

However you write a transgender story you're inevitably going to upset some of the 'professionally offended', so all I can suggest is that you write the story you want to tell.

I've read several stories in which I consider transgender people to have been sympathetically depicted both here and on ASSTR, not that I can remember their names. You could try a category search and look for high scores. Or you could start with Rache and her pseudonyms.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@G Younger

He suggested that I need a transgender character.


My personal advice is to keep away from it - way too many professional troublemakers will jump on your case - ones from both sides of the issue.

If you must do so, introduce a totally new character because the only characters you currently have that may fit is Ray, and I can't see you getting that by his family as already portrayed. You could also try having a character go the girl to boy route instead of the usual portrayal of boy to girl route. However, I think you'd lower the quality of the story by introducing TG just because it's trendy at the moment.

You suggested David's Dad, TG would be so totally against his nature you'd lose a lot of readers for messing the family up that much.

Wes Boyd is a great author and handled this. In the two stories below he has one person going through a TG change, and in the second you see them interacting with others afterwards.

http://www.spearfishlaketales.com/17gm/gm.htm

http://www.spearfishlaketales.com/21putp/putp.htm

Apart from that, maybe CW can have someone he knows who's close to a TG email you to discuss it.

BTW What you see of TG people being portrayed in shows etc is not like real life.

Wheezer

Sent you a message via reply to your blog. Transgender is an issue I know quite a bit about. I hope the info I sent about a young transgender woman of my acquaintance helps. Just do your research and avoid stereotypes, please. Transgender girls & women are not she-males!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

I suspect your ideas of transgendered folks are a bit outdated. First off, it's not like someone just one day decides to start wearing dresses. It's a lifelong feeling that your were born into the wrong sex. That's difficult to write into an existing story, where none of your characters have shown the slightest inclination about being sexually confused (a really inappropriate term, as they aren't confused about it at all), or frustrated with the cards life has dealt them.

Generally, transgenered folk study for years for their transition. They often--but not always--act like the opposite sex for most of their lives--simply because that's how they've always identified. Those that 'come out of the closet' to announce after 30 years of happy marriage that's they're actually the opposite sex are more a media creation than a realistic portrayal. People do 'switch' sexes after being married. After all, people don't 'change' sexes because they're secretly homosexual. Transgendered people might end up as either straight or homosexual once they switch. Still, it's a long complicated struggle. Chances are, their spouses will have know about their issue for a long time.

As for labels, there really is no universal label. Everyone has their own labels, so don't go for a politically correct label (I hate that term in this context, as it's code for transphobia!). Instead, have the individual pick what they want to be called, and have them insist on it as a personal choice. They're rejecting what society expects of them, so why would they pick up another role that society expects? (There was another discussion in this forum about this (in the Author's area, I'm pretty sure), but I can't remember where it was buried.)

Dominions Son

@Wheezer

Transgender girls & women are not she-males!


If they have or intend to go all the way, you are correct.

However, there are some who get breast implants, but don't intend to ever have the genitalia converted. Some of those as CW has pointed out self identify as she-males.

There is a show on cable called Botched it follows the practice of two of the countries top plastic surgeons who specialize in taking on some of the most difficult original cases and fixing other surgeon's botched surgeries.

To really push the no stereotypes line, I recently saw an older episode, where they had a young trans man (born male) on who never intended to go all the way.

He had gotten breast implants and then had them taken out, because he wanted to be able to express as either male or female as his mood shifted. The removal was botched, leaving him with an abnormal male chest.

What he wanted was a convertible implant that would look like a normal male chest bare, but would look female if he wore a push up bra.

Unfortunately the doctors had to tell him, that they could give him normal male anatomy or normal female anatomy, but they had no idea how to do a convertible.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Wheezer

Pssst! What day is today? ;)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

However, there are some who get breast implants, but don't intend to ever have the genitalia converted. Some of those as CW has pointed out self identify as she-males.

Well ... that's not quite true. Some start the process, decide they can't afford the entire process, but continue performing in gay drag shows. But they're a very specific subset, distinct from the majority of the transgendered.

What's more common are those who won't want to undergo the full operation. Not only is there the expensive sex reassignment surgery--also requiring travel to foreign countries (who have the best reputation for this sort of thing)--but there's the lesser know facial reconstruction surgeries.

For many, it's enough to simply look like the appropriate sex. This is especially true for female to male cases, as the options are fewer. As with most things, it's easier for males, because no matter what you do, you will never have a functioning penis, while a fake vagina (another bad term) isn't such a roadblock.

@Wheezer

Pssst! What day is today? ;)

The question might very well be a joke, but the subject matter is hardly a joking matter, and anyone considering a trans character needs to know these details.

You never know when some story might need a given character, so it's handy keeping these details in your back pocket for whenever you might need them.

If someone gets their giggles off making fun of others, I'm glad they're so easily amused. But until I'm told otherwise, I'll take the question seriously.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Some start the process, decide they can't afford the entire process, but continue performing in gay drag shows. But they're a very specific subset, distinct from the majority of the transgendered.

What's more common are those who won't want to undergo the full operation. Not only is there the expensive sex reassignment surgery--also requiring travel to foreign countries (who have the best reputation for this sort of thing)--but there's the lesser know facial reconstruction surgeries.


Sorry, I fail to see how that contradicts any part of what I wrote.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

As with most things, it's easier for males, because no matter what you do, you will never have a functioning penis


Not with current technology anyway. Who knows what may develop in the future.

Ernest Bywater

@G Younger


G Younger

Edit: Happy April Fools Day!


Such things only work when everyone involved is in the same timezone. The time stamp I see on your original post is 9:21 p.m. 1st April, a clear 9 hours after the time allowed to pull an April Fool's joke, and my reply is 12:31 a.m. 2nd April 2016, and thus clearly well outside the limit. Add in this is a subject of other recent threads here and something very topical at the moment, you can see why so many took it as a serious issue.

Ernest Bywater

@Wheezer

Pssst! What day is today? ;)


Saturday 2nd April according to my clock. If it's meant as a joke, it's a full day late.

Replies:   G Younger
G Younger

@Ernest Bywater

As long as everyone had fun...

And it is a serious topic even though I was goofing around. I received many well thought out emails. I personally don't plan to write about a character like this, but it is relevant and I think the discussion was worth having.

Thanks for being good sports and have a great weekend.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@G Younger

I have to admit I'm mildly disappointed. I think you're one of the few authors here capable of pulling off a sympathetic transgender character.

AJ

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@awnlee jawking

I have to admit I'm mildly disappointed. I think you're one of the few authors here capable of pulling off a sympathetic transgender character.

Have to admit I'm glad it's a joke.
If the character fits in with the story, then OK.
But doing something just because it's fashionable at the moment?
1 Dates the story badly, it might go over well at the time but will likely result in a short life for the story.
2 As it's not really a part of the story, just being there because it's trendy will significantly negatively impact on people's ratings for the story.

For me, things that jump out as not really belonging to a story are one reason for me not enjoying it as much as I otherwise would, or even just abandoning it entirely if it's really badly done.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Sorry, I fail to see how that contradicts any part of what I wrote.

Only that it's a very small part of the trans population. Most exist under the radar, rather than parading on stage.

@DS

Not with current technology anyway. Who knows what may develop in the future.

The issue is with the multiple individual veins and valves in the penis which allow an erection. The level of intricate surgery required is mind-boggling. The only way they could improve one is if they could grow a brand new penis using the person's own DNA, and then surgically attack it--which then requires a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs--something few would trade given how rampant age-related ED is.

@Ernest

The time stamp I see on your original post is 9:21 p.m. 1st April, a clear 9 hours after the time allowed to pull an April Fool's joke, and my reply is 12:31 a.m. 2nd April 2016, and thus clearly well outside the limit.

Not if they only wake up at 8:30, or can only post when they're not at work!

@awnlee_jawking

I have to admit I'm mildly disappointed. I think you're one of the few authors here capable of pulling off a sympathetic transgender character.


@Grant

Have to admit I'm glad it's a joke.
If the character fits in with the story, then OK.
But doing something just because it's fashionable at the moment?

That's why I added my addendum stating I doubted you could add it to an existing story due to the lack of proper character development.

However, I doubt the issue will disappear over time. Rather, it's likely to become more acceptable, and earlier crude efforts would be seen as corageous voices speaking up for an underclass. The trans community are like the gays, who rose to across-the-board acceptance much faster than either blacks, Hispanics or Muslims, who after hundreds of years are still treated as empty soulless stereotypes.

But this story fits neither of those conditions, and it wasn't a serious suggestion in the first place.

That said, raising these issues just might allow other authors to consider the situation, and potentially include a few more mainsteam trans characters (mainstream as in, their outrageous actions aren't the basis of the entire story). I've long maintained that including minorities as fleshed out characters and putting them in front of the white majorities is the best approach to advancing minority rights.

We can argues which rights they're warranted, but since they're born this way, that clearly makes them an ethnic minority (based on their DNA and background alone), thus the 'equal protection under the law' applies over any personal religious or political views.

NightShade

I strayed from a straight mf story and added a mm scene. That small few paragraphs ruined the story for a lot of readers and I heard from them about that - and not how good the story was.

My advice is don't do it. You have a good story line going. Don't make it messy.

NightShade

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The issue is with the multiple individual veins and valves in the penis which allow an erection. The level of intricate surgery required is mind-boggling. The only way they could improve one is if they could grow a brand new penis using the person's own DNA, and then surgically attack it--which then requires a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs--something few would trade given how rampant age-related ED is.


All based on current technology. That doesn't mean that there aren't other possibilities out there that haven't been discovered yet.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Only that it's a very small part of the trans population. Most exist under the radar, rather than parading on stage.


I never said it was a large part of the trans community, only that it exists.

demonmaster62

First of all, if you are going to put a Transgender in your story, because you feel pressured to do so, to keep your readership, and it wasn't what you had in mind in the first place; DO NOT BOW TO THE PRESSURE!! That is part of the problem that has put us into the current political backlash that is going on out there!

Onthe other hand, if you really truly WANT and MEANT for there to be a Transgender in your story, then by all means do so.

BUT MAKE IT ON YOUR CHOICE, NOT some PC bullshit that says you should.

Crumbly Writer

@NightShade

I strayed from a straight mf story and added a mm scene. That small few paragraphs ruined the story for a lot of readers and I heard from them about that - and not how good the story was.

My advice is don't do it. You have a good story line going. Don't make it messy.

Sadly, that's especially true for particular squicks--especially on SOL! That said, you can include trans and gay characters, but tread lightly if you include any sexual episodes. If you do include gay sex scenes, do not post on SOL! Instead post on one of the many 'gay friendly' story sites. They're not as polished or well-developed as SOL, but you'll receive a LOT less 1-bombs and hate mail.

I'm preparing to publish a new gay romance that focuses on internal conflicts within the gay community, and sadly, it won't publish here. I doubt that many of my traditional readers will follow it. Hell, even out of my own family, only one person has read it--my 86-year-old mother--who liked it. But my bro and sis-in-law--the parents of two gay teens--had zero interest in even glancing at it.

@demonmaster62

First of all, if you are going to put a Transgender in your story, because you feel pressured to do so, to keep your readership, and it wasn't what you had in mind in the first place; DO NOT BOW TO THE PRESSURE!! That is part of the problem that has put us into the current political backlash that is going on out there!

Seriously? I mean, can you even imagine a world where any straight writer would feel pressure or stigmatized if they didn't post anything besides a 'whites only' story?

I think the only people considering including such subplots are interested in inclusion and exploring new areas and new character types. Those who bow to pressure will follow the mainstream.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer


I mean, can you even imagine a world where any straight writer would feel pressure or stigmatized if they didn't post anything besides a 'whites only' story?


Why not? It already happens in television, movies and theatre. To get something on the BBC, for example, you have to include token black, Asian and gay characters, even if the plot's set in a 1950s English village.

AJ

red61544

@G Younger

I think pronouns are the main issue here. Is it proper to refer to the character as "shim" and "sher"?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@red61544

We discussed this in another thread (somewhere). There are now 57 separate recognized pronouns, mostly created by in a war between proper pronoun use between various competing universities. The point is, it's too damn difficult to make heads or tales of it, and even if you do, you've then got to convince your readership of it's appropriateness, and it likely won't be resolved for some time.

That's why I keep saying, create a specific pronoun for whichever character you create, and have that character insist on it as their personal choice, rather than as the 'proper' pronoun for ALL trans. You can get creative, having that character justify their choices, but the point is, you don't dictate to trans-folk what they should be called, you refer to them as they themselves identify.

If one prefer hs and another hz, then you use whichever fits that particular person, rather than lecture everyone you know to always refers to transfolk as hz because 'all the transfolk I know' use that term.

Generally, though, "shim" and "sher" are seen as transitional terms, or bi-terms rather than how someone identifies. In other words, a woman born as a man would more likely identify as a woman than as a shemale (which is a term reserved for 'chicks with dicks' in the drag community).

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Crumbly Writer

For god's sake, Crumbly, that was a joke, not a real question! So, I guess a transgendered postal worker has to be referred to as a shemailman.

Replies:   Grant  Grant
Grant

@red61544

For god's sake, Crumbly, that was a joke, not a real question!


Is it proper to refer to the character as "shim" and "sher"?

It looks like a question. Jokes are supposed to be humorous, and I'm personally having difficulty in figuring out what's funny about it.
So taking it as a question seems to be the appropriate interpretation.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Grant

@red61544

So, I guess a transgendered postal worker has to be referred to as a shemailman.

Maybe in the US.
Here in Australia Postal Delivery Officers are called Posties. It's applicable to hes, shes, its, thems and whatever other combinations you care to come up with.
One word fits all.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

If you do include gay sex scenes, do not post on SOL! Instead post on one of the many 'gay friendly' story sites.


I wouldn't exactly agree with this, CW. Because I don't know of any gay friendly sites, simply because that's not my usual scene. However, I do have a story with a gay sex scene in it, and the main character is TG. It's a short story, properly coded and a score of 6.9, the lowest number of downloads for any of my stories, and the third lowest score. So it is possible to do fairly well with a TG or gay story at SoL, I think it's how you write the story.

http://storiesonline.net/s/63622/naughty-jo

Dominions Son

@Grant

Here in Australia Postal Delivery Officers are called Posties.


Sounds like something strippers wear to cover their nipples.

Replies:   Grant  Capt Zapp
Grant

@Dominions Son

Sounds like something strippers wear to cover their nipples.

They're no where near that classy.

Capt Zapp

@Dominions Son

Here in Australia Postal Delivery Officers are called Posties.

Sounds like something strippers wear to cover their nipples.


I thought it was a breakfast cereal.

richardshagrin

@Grant

Definition of shim:

NOUN

1.a washer or thin strip of material used to align parts, make them fit, or reduce wear.

VERB

1.wedge (something) or fill up (a space) with a shim.

Cher: a female singer, see Sonny and Cher.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@richardshagrin

Definition of shim:

?

You might have been thinking of red61544 and clicked on the wrong post?

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Grant


Grant tstamp = new Date(1459647096000);document.write(tstamp.toLocaleString());‎4‎/‎2‎/‎2016‎ ‎6‎:‎31‎:‎36‎ ‎PM2016-04-02 9:04:36pm

@red61544

For god's sake, Crumbly, that was a joke, not a real question!

Is it proper to refer to the character as "shim" and "sher"?

It looks like a question. Jokes are supposed to be humorous, and I'm personally having difficulty in figuring out what's funny about it.

So taking it as a question seems to be the appropriate interpretation.

Replies:

richardshagrin


This was the last post to raise the shim/sher issue, the one I replied to with MY definitions of those words. It might have been humorous, for some values of laughable.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@richardshagrin

This was the last post to raise the shim/sher issue,

More a case of me trying to work out how to determine if something was a question or not.

Probably best to quote the original post when responding to a particular statement or question to help reduce the general level of confusion.

transdelion

If you go to www the519 org, there are at least two different media resource guides for referring to gender variant folks. They would probably be helpful.

Personally, although it's grammatically incorrect, I prefer they and them, and perhaps grammar should reflect the reality that not every person has a clear cut gender or meets society's usual binary requirements. If any person, and/or your character, expresses a preference for a pronoun, then by all means, use their preferred term. I'm just a guy these days and don't need any other kinds of pronouns, but I'm just one transman. For some transpeople, it's not so clear. The journey is a hard one, and I wouldn't dream of imposing my ideas on someone else.

richardshagrin

Idle thought: The French use "la" for feminine nouns and "le" for masculine and (I think) neuter nouns. Why not steal (appropriate) their approach? Instead of she for female pronoun use la when the character thinks of la self as female, and use le for the pronoun for male or neuter individuals. Or when you don't know which is preferred. Oddly enough, fun is a French word, and takes le fun rather then LA Fun.

sandpiper

OK, let me throw this one out. I'm currently considering a character who is rather androgynous; physically male but a cross-dresser some but not all of the time. The normal rule of thumb is to refer to people in the manner in which they're presenting. But sometimes it doesn't work:

"XXX never knew which way XXX would dress in the morning."

Should XXX be "(s)he," "s/he," or the default "he?" Or something else?

transdelion

Given my trans background, I would probably refer to them with male pronounds when they are presenting as male, female pronouns when they are presenting as female, and they/them if their presented gender is unclear. I would also frequently refer to them by name to limit confusion, although some confusion might enhance the story's intended effect, if you so intend.

Sometimes the most interesting things and events, and thus opportunities for growth, happen between the lines of certainty just where the confusion lies. Since people tend to not like change, this may be an unpopular or even dangerous approach.

You should ask around to see if other people have differing advice.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
demonmaster62

No attempt to redeem myself, because I stand by everything I said in my first post in this thread.

BUT, on the other hand if the story is good it doesn't matter. G Younger, I would suggest that you seek out the stories on here by an Author named "Michele Nylons" His/Her stories are really good (but you have to like forced sex, as a lot of them are in that vein) some of the stories really show the struggle that Mike went through to become Michele. Granted it is more of a Transvestite kind of thing, but the insights shared are very interesting, and could help you see where to take your character.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@transdelion


Given my trans background, I would probably refer to them with male pronounds when they are presenting as male, female pronouns when they are presenting as female, and they/them if their presented gender is unclear. I would also frequently refer to them by name to limit confusion, although some confusion might enhance the story's intended effect, if you so intend.


As much as my comments got dumped on (over my not being able to 'take' mean-spiriting jabs disguised as jokes), I'll weigh in again (even though I'll regret it).

I agree with this approach. There's very much a transition when a person 'transforms' from one perspective to another. If they're trying to pass as male (their birth sex), they'll insist on "he" so they don't fall down the rabbit hole of forgetting how to act around others. But then they put on the dress and makeup, they transform their self-perception, often calling themselves an entirely new name as a way of cementing in their minds that they've got to act differently.

This isn't so much a transgender issue, as a racial identity issue. It's the same thing that blacks face on a daily basis. When they dress in a suit and tie in the morning and head to work, then begin thinking like their white friends, putting on a white viewpoint which guides them in their every decision and interaction, less they unintentionally offend their coworkers.

However, when they return home and meet with their friends and family, they'll physically change from one 'costume to another' to reinforce that they've got to act 'black' so as to not offend those who've known them their entire lives, who might accuse them of 'acting white' and putting on airs.

That's a side of the coin I can relate to, as I was married to a Jamaican woman and we both worked in the New York City financial industry for years, and I saw this internal conflict with various members of her family and friends over the years. It's by no means restricted to only trans or blacks, but addresses the trials and tribulations of anyone who's forced to take on conflicting personas.

@sandpiper

"XXX never knew which way XXX would dress in the morning."

Should XXX be "(s)he," "s/he," or the default "he?" Or something else?


As I said, I'd go with "he" in this context, "she" whenever she's preparing for that role, and optionally "they" when they're caught in the turmoil between those very different roles, considering what the implications of crossing over between the two are.

But, as transdelion notes, you've got to be careful in this middle zone, as it's a potential minefield since readers are likely to get confused and to misinterpret the essential conflicts, taking offense over perceived 'transgressions' (either to the trans fork, or the broader world of normals who feels slighted by the work).

Good luck with the story. It sounds interesting.

If I may, you might want to take a look at my analogy. Making the book more a statement of balancing life on the cusp of two separate worlds, rather than merely dwelling on 'being trans', might make the story more universally relatable, so it appeals to a broader audience. At the very least, I'd include a couple 'working professional' black/Hispanic/Asian characters as sounding boards for the main character, as each reflect their own perceptions on the others.

It'll make the story much more complex, but sometimes, that's a good thing. It provides readers with something they can really sink their teeth into. 'D

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