LGBTQ+ People and How to Write Them|PART THREE: Transgender

PART THREE: Transgender

Ever notice how there are next to no LGBTQ+ characters in media? I like to think that's due to writers not knowing how to approach the subject, and so I started this blog series where I explain the basic dos and don'ts for writing these characters. So get a snack, boil yourself some tea, and get ready to take some notes because I'm gonna teach you a few things.

First let's get this out of the way: yes this is important, yes I know my stuff, no I'm not straight. If you have any questions feel free to ask them, I won't bite. Now that we've got that over with, we can move on to the fun stuff!

Now, you're all (or at least some of you) are probably wondering "What even is transgender? What does it mean?" Don't you worry, I've got an answer for you! But first, you have to understand something. Gender and sex are two competely different things and they don't have to match up. Your sex is the parts your born with, hopefully you know what those are because I don't really wanna have the birds and the bees talk at the moment. Your gender is how you identify yourself, or in other words, your prefered pronouns (she/her, he/him). For most people, these match up (girl body, girl pronouns, etc.,) this is called cisgender. Sometimes, they don't match up (girl body, boy pronouns, etc.,) this is called transgender. Basically it's when you identify with pronouns that are different then your body parts.

Imagine waking up everyday, wishing you could have been born in a different body, wishing you weren't who and what you are. Imagine going through life, scared someone might find out, scared that your friends and family will be disgusted with you. Imagine feeling traped in your own skin, knowing it's not where you belong but feeling powerless to escape it. That is something transgender people go through every day. Not all of them, but many of them, go through struggles like this every day of their lives. Aren't there surgeries and hormones you can take to fix that? You may ask, well yes there is, but the problem with that is that it's not something many people can easily acess. Surgery is expensive, and often hormones are as well, leaving many transgender people unable to attain them. Stupid right?

Now there's also the problem of discrimination. Often, friends and family members of transgender people will not accept their identiy, often intentionally misgendering them (using pronouns that match their sex), and calling them by their birth name instead of the name they may have chosen for themselves that more closely matches their gender identity, these people are transphobs, or transphobic. In extreme casses, they may be kicked out of the house or cut out of the unaccepting person's life. Schools are not always accepting either, gendered bathrooms can cause uncomfortable senarios of choosing between the bathroom that fits your identity or your body, causing many to just not use school bathrooms unless it's an emergency. Staff can be a source of support and encuragement, however others can be terrible. Principals have told transgender students that they can't use the bathrooms in the school, forcing them to leave the building to seek out another public washroom everytime they feel nature's call. As you can imagine horrible treatment like this can have an effect on a persons mental state causing issues like anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria (feeling negativly about your body and gender). 

When you are writing transgender characters, you need to keep these things in mind. Every person is different, so not every person will be dysphoric, but not every person will be confident with their body. You should keep in mind that each characters life experiences will have an impact on how they feel and react to situations, for example a trans character raised in a transphobic family may be less confident with their identity than a trans character raised in an accepting home. Discrimination can and does have an impact on how people think and feel about themselves, so try to remember that when you're writing. However, you should be careful not to go overboard, as you may do more harm than good to your trans readers. Now before we go here's some simple do's and don't's.

Do:

  • Remember how peoples life experiences will impact how they think, feel, and react to situations
  • Remember trans people are real human beings and should be portrayed as such
  • Remember discrimination is a thing and it impacts how people perseve the world and themselves
  • Remember that everyone is different, so not everyone will have the same confidence levels
  • Remember to do some reasearch on the transitioning process (Surgery and/or hormones) if you're planing on writing a transitioning character

Don't:

  • Kill off your LGBTQ+ characters for no reason
  • Go over kill on examples of discrimination, that will do more harm than good
  • Write every trans character as exactly the same, all people are different so everyone will have different feelings
  • Work in stereo-types, they're offensive and boring
  • Avoid the use of LGBTQ+ slang and characters

I hope you learned something from reading this, and if I made any mistakes or forgot to include something let me know. If you have any questions, or suggestions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them. I hope to see more trans characters in writing now. I'll see you guys next time when we talk about how to write queer characters! 

~NightshadeCreepypasa

 

FOR MORE INFO ON WRITING LGBTQ+ CHARACTERS, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY OTHER BLOGS:

Part One: Gay & Lesbian: http://www.movellas.com/blog/show/201701070053368454/lgbtq-people-and-how-to-write-them-part-1-gay-lesbian

Part Two: Bisexual: http://www.movellas.com/blog/show/201701072025457078/lgbtq-people-and-how-to-write-thempart-two-bisexual

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