Little Details

Posted: July 17, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

If you want to write transgender characters well, it’s ironically the little things that will help you the most.

 

It doesn’t take a lot to convince me you googled folks like me. You know what top and bottom surgery mean. You know about shots and gel. You know about those first terrifying forays into the right sections of the clothing stores. Good for you: you can Google. You had Trans 101, probably in a single conversation. Awesome.

 

But let’s face it, it’s the little things that make anyone believe a character.

 

Let’s take crime novels. I work in law enforcement in real life. And I enjoy crime dramas and crime novels…but ninety-nine percent of them don’t actually convince me. Why? Because nobody says, “Clear left!” when they’re the passenger in a car.

 

No, seriously. Every single one of my RL colleagues (and me) does it. Across three forces. Say this to a new colleague who started last week, and they look at you like you’re batshit insane. It’s a very…well, cop thing to do. And without it? I don’t believe the characters are real cops.

 

Writing trans characters is exactly the same. I’m not going to be overly impressed when you know about binders. (And yes, actually, many people in the genre do expect you to be impressed when they know what a packer is.) I am waiting for the inevitable trying-on-make-up scene if your character is a transwoman. I know it’s coming, let’s just get it over with.

 

Or, preferably, let’s get some authenticity up in here. Let’s get some variance. Let’s get some reality.

 

Like how taste can change. I have loathed yoghurt for twenty-five years. Even as a toddler, I had to be MAJORLY bribed. Now, I’m chugging the stuff. I fucking love it. And it’s weird as fuck, because my brain is still not convinced on this. It knows it shouldn’t like it. But my mouth is overriding it, and going mad.

 

Like how you keep some things from your past life, because fuck it, they’re good. Most visitors to my house believe I have a girlfriend who stays regularly, because there’s flowery bubble bath and two scented candles on my bathtub. Because yeah, I go mountain biking at weekends, I do kickboxing, and I am found six evenings a week doing weights in the gym–but fuck you, them candles smell good.

 

Or like the joys of gardening topless. Not because it’s manly, or gender-affirming. But because it’s fucking July and roasting hot and I have to dig up the lawn, damn it. Not every happy moment with our bodies is a trans thing. And let’s be cynical here, some of the changes are good or bad for totally self-serving, not-to-do-with-gender things.

 

Like the one thing I mourn about having my top surgery? I can no longer get instantly served in bars just by existing. I have to wait in line now. Kinda sucks.

 

Like how being trans doesn’t mean being totally in love with everything about your acquired gender, or hating everything about your assigned one. Being a transman doesn’t mean you have to hate your boobs. Being a transwoman doesn’t mean you must have a serious thing for make-up. Some transmen still have wedding-dress dreams; some transwomen still love nothing more than slumming it in crotch-to-the-knees sweatpants and hoodies on a Sunday afternoon.

 

So write them too. See them. Show them. Know them.

 

It’s not all about binders and packers and surgeries and hormones.

 

It’s about that one patch of hair that’s coming in under your nipple when the rest of your chest is as bare as a baby’s arse.

 

It’s about not being into false nails, no matter how many colours they come in.

 

It’s about the little things. And those are the things that make a character believable. And make our lives real.

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