Thursday, July 24, 2014

Transgender Models and Writing

For those of you that don't know or have stumbled upon this blog for the first time: I've written over 3 million words which translates to 78 stories of both long and short fiction. In almost every single one there is usually a gay male or a feminine man. The mystery series has a lesbian woman of color and I wrote a novel about a person who transitioned though not in a very nice way. That one's complicated, seriously. There is also an asexual male and a gender neutral character who's not really gender neutral, yeah it's complicated. We'll leave it at that.

The funny thing about this is that I am a straight female. Yeah, I do feel "masculine" at times and I've wondered what it would like to be male but despite my complaining once a month: I am female and happy as a female.

The odd thing is that even though I have written male characters who were feminine (I'm looking at you VanHelgrove clan) I didn't know what it was called. And when some of these male characters started wanting to dress as women I got really confused. All that was solved three (or more) years ago.

Back in 2011 (or so) I discovered the model Andreja Pejic. She was billed as being "The Prettiest Boy in the World." Yes. SHE was billed as being the Prettiest BOY in the world. At the time Andreja was an androgynous model: a male who made a living off dressing feminine which is something I'd never heard of until discovering her.

And of course, I swan-dived (I'm a horrible diver) right in for the sake of the characters who were trying to do the same thing and leaving me completely confused as to how to write them.

I tend to research everything I'm interested in like crazy and Andreja was no different. I found interview after interview and studied picture after picture. I'm pretty sure I've collected everything about her that I possibly could.

It was a whole new thing I'd never heard about (no offense intended as I live in a small city that's a good decade behind the rest of the world) and I began broadening my research to include the "trans" part of LGBT.

What I found was amazing. I had no idea there were people out there who didn't feel comfortable in their skin. I had no idea there were men and women out there who sometimes dressed as the opposite gender all the time because that was how they felt comfortable. Yes, I had heard of drag (that's a whole story it itself) but trans is entirely different.

Anyway, I had no idea there were people out there who were born as one gender but felt the opposite and sought to change their outer body to match their inner self. I had no idea that those characters were a part of the trans community. I had no idea what the word androgynous really meant.

Suddenly I needed to include more people into my stories. I'm not saying that to be arrogant or to get some kind of nice "push" from any kind of community. I say that because I believe that despite what's happening in my worlds: everyone should be included.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't look at my characters and go "Okay, well, you have to be trans because I need a trans character." That would be WRONG OF ME. I also don't look at my characters and go "Oh you have to be a person of color because I need more people of color." Again, THAT WOULD BE WRONG OF ME. Why? Because then I would become that writer that's including people for the sake of being Miss ALL INCLUSIVE AREN'T I NICE? *giggle giggle*

No. Discovering a trans model like Andreja enabled me to give these male characters who wanted to dress feminine a voice. Seeing what trans was and really looking into it helped me make these characters who they were supposed to be. It helped me to discover who they really were: NATURALLY. I knew what they wanted to do but I didn't know why. Knowing why helped me make them into real people, the real people they deserved to be.

Because of Andreja characters like Shawn (Seer/Seeker), Drew (Testing Grounds), Dragon (Lies), Star Van Votte (Model), Andre (Chosen Ones of the Forbidden Object), and Jordan (Changed) FINALLY had their full identities. These stories had always been in my head and sitting in my "why can't I go ahead with this thing? What's MISSING?" pile.

Because of Andreja the above characters were finally allowed to grow and become who they really were when before they just had a huge question mark beside them because I couldn't figure out who they were, not really. I didn't understand that yes they were a male who wanted to dress as a female because before Andreja I didn't understand it. Those characters and those stories just sat there and it wasn't fair for them.

Now when I find myself thinking/writing "he" and "she" about the same character I know it's not weird and I'm not confused about it. Now I can sit that character down and ask them exactly how they feel without wondering what the Hell is wrong with me as a writer or that character as a character.

The best part? Because of Andreja I will be writing an entire fantasy trilogy based around a transgender main character: Blaire. Blaire is physically male and dresses as female but does not prefer either personal pronoun. I'm not sure if Blaire will transition into a female in the story as (s)he's going to be saving the world and all, but we'll see in November.

So a big thank you goes out to people like Andreja Pejic, Lea T, Laverne Cox, Ines Rau, and many others for helping me see that there is more to gender than just what you're born with and that sometimes your physical and mental/emotional gender does not match up. Thank you for helping me see that it's not weird or wrong and that everyone deserves the freedom to live their life as they feel they need to, including the imaginary people I write about daily.

Thank you for helping my characters become who they really are and allowing them to express themselves as they needed and wanted to for their stories to be told. Thank you for helping me understand. Thank you for being the powerful individuals you are and for representing people who may be struggling with what they see in the mirror. Thank you for being true to yourselves. You're all beautiful, no matter what anyone says.

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