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girly girls, crossdressers, pansexuals oh my (1 Viewer)

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kunox

Senior Member
I have an interesting problem. I want to write a crossdrsser and a girly girl into some of my books. I even want to expanded upon and make relationships more of a thing in more of my books as well. the thing Is I suck at writing these things... despite being ftm trans. I can't do it without being stereotypish. I want to include moire variety of things like tis in my books because I vaguely touched on them early on but never got to them... any thoughts.
 

thepancreas11

New Writers' Mentor
WF Veterans
I have been thinking a lot about this myself, actually. I've traditionally only written straight, cis, white male characters--as that is what I am, but I also recognize that who we write is as important as how we write. In trying to expand my own repertoire of possible characters, I try to do two things:

First, I try to read books about characters like the ones I want to write. I will make a list of things that felt natural and things that felt out of place, things that surprised me about the representation and things I thought were stereotypical. I try to find authors that are like the characters I'm writing, and I read how they represent themselves. They know details about their lives that I could not possibly know, and the things they focus on are generally different from what characters like me would focus on, though always adjacent. I try to capture those subtle differences as best as possible. If you are writing a character going through an experience like your own, your life is a vast wealth of resources. Take note of the things that you notice and how you notice them. You'd be surprised what you find about yourself in that process (I've tried to do it many times for characters I've written like me, and it's spooky).

Second, I try not to make a character's uniqueness based solely on their difference. I won't write a trans character just to be trans. I won't write a South Asian character just to be South Asian. They just happen to have those traits in addition to their personalities. I do this because I'm not the person to write their experience of going through the world, but I am a person who knows people like them, which means I can include characters of a diverse representation in my writing. Right now, I'm writing a character that is non-binary. They are a powerful military leader with hints of both masculinity and femininity but mainly humanity. Their personality is not derived from their identity.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I have an interesting problem. I want to write a crossdrsser and a girly girl into some of my books. I even want to expanded upon and make relationships more of a thing in more of my books as well. the thing Is I suck at writing these things... despite being ftm trans. I can't do it without being stereotypish. I want to include moire variety of things like tis in my books because I vaguely touched on them early on but never got to them... any thoughts.

You're trans, right? If I'm reading that correctly. Then write from your own experience. If what you experience falls into the 'stereotype', so be it. It's YOUR experience and on account of you being trans, who's to say you're wrong? Don't worry about stuff like this. Tell it as it is from your own perspective. If I was going to write about gays and lesbians, I reckon a lot of people wouldn't even recognise them as gay and lesbian. I used to be what's called now 'progressive' and so mixed with everyone without thought. Went to gay bars with my girlfriend once ... that was an experience and FUN. Everyone was wearing mini chandeliers from their ears. In general though, my experience is simply on a friend basis. For some reason there were a lot of gay and lesbian postmen/women. All I can say is, if they hadn't told anyone they were gay, nobody would have known. So, yeah, from my experience, my gay characters would just be ordinary folk doing ordinary stuff. But another person's experience would paint a completely different picture.

Just write it and don't worry.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Don't worry about stuff like this. Tell it as it is from your own perspective. If I was going to write about gays and lesbians, I reckon a lot of people wouldn't even recognise them as gay and lesbian. I used to be what's called now 'progressive' and so mixed with everyone without thought. Went to gay bars with my girlfriend once ... that was an experience and FUN. Everyone was wearing mini chandeliers from their ears. In general though, my experience is simply on a friend basis. For some reason there were a lot of gay and lesbian postmen/women. All I can say is, if they hadn't told anyone they were gay, nobody would have known. So, yeah, from my experience, my gay characters would just be ordinary folk doing ordinary stuff. But another person's experience would paint a completely different picture.

Just write it and don't worry.

I understand what you're staying...AND representation matters. I feel like it is important that diverse characters are really just seen for the whole people they are, as you suggest, but I also think there are subtle/less overt ways to make it clear that the characters populating a story come from diverse identity groups. As a writer who can only truly understand the identity groups to which I belong, I feel that learning about other identity groups enough to competently weave their details into the character development and story is possible and important.

As a lesbian, there are characters who I will watch or read that I read as lesbian (even if they are not overtly presented as such) because there are mannerisms, ways of dress, and perceptions of experiences that are consistent within the lesbian identity group. Yes, a number of these things are stereotypes, but used carefully and accurately, these details can build a character of that identity that doesn't feel one dimensional/tokenish (just there to be that identity).

I like that your characters would not overtly be labeled as their identity group, but as their writer, if you know and capably represent their identity group, it opens that character up to be identified with by someone who sees themselves in the subtle traits that make that character who they are.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I understand what you're staying...AND representation matters. I feel like it is important that diverse characters are really just seen for the whole people they are, as you suggest, but I also think there are subtle/less overt ways to make it clear that the characters populating a story come from diverse identity groups. As a writer who can only truly understand the identity groups to which I belong, I feel that learning about other identity groups enough to competently weave their details into the character development and story is possible and important.

As a lesbian, there are characters who I will watch or read that I read as lesbian (even if they are not overtly presented as such) because there are mannerisms, ways of dress, and perceptions of experiences that are consistent within the lesbian identity group. Yes, a number of these things are stereotypes, but used carefully and accurately, these details can build a character of that identity that doesn't feel one dimensional/tokenish (just there to be that identity).

I like that your characters would not overtly be labeled as their identity group, but as their writer, if you know and capably represent their identity group, it opens that character up to be identified with by someone who sees themselves in the subtle traits that make that character who they are.

If I was going to write a story about gay people then of course I'd have to make sure I showed they were gay in some way. I just wouldn't go the Hollywood route of making sure the label fits the stereotype. It's an interesting question to consider actually. How do people know that the 7th guy they shot in Call of Duty wasn't gay? Was it because we expect them to 'look' gay? The same goes for action films. Why is it it can go without question when it's a straight man, but it can't go without question for a gay man? Why does it need to be telegraphed?

I had a really naive friend who once told me she had a 'gaydar'. Probably because she thought I was guy. She wouldn't have been the first person to ask me that. Evidently, talking to women in bars all night and not wanted to take them home is a very suspicious thing to do. She didn't have a 'gaydar', she could only see the stereotypes she'd been sold on by the media. No matter how many times I tried to explain to her that most gay people don't act or look like that, she wouldn't have it. She'd walk past hundreds of gays and lesbians all her life and only ever see those that match the stereotypes.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
I can't do it without being stereotypish. I want to include moire variety of things like tis in my books because I vaguely touched on them early on but never got to them... any thoughts.
Sometimes, a stereotype is factual.

Example, Dallas Buyer's Club. Jared Leto played a character that dressed as a woman and that was filled with what some may call stereotypes. What made it a great portrayal was that didn't stop his humanity from showing through the stereotypical behaviors he portrayed. You may need to find a location where crossdressers are and talk to them and see the person behind the makeup. Give them a reason for existing in your story beyond simply being a person that dresses like the opposite sex.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Hi there Kunox,
The major problem here is the TV. It has distorted reality and now we are stuck with some weird stuff.

Sexual orientation, gender, ethnic minority. These are artificial divisions. People are the same inside.

Whether your character is a normal person with an attraction to the same sex or someone who has gone full Julian Clary it matters not. Just write them with feelings like yours.

Good luck
BC
 

kunox

Senior Member
Hi there Kunox,
The major problem here is the TV. It has distorted reality and now we are stuck with some weird stuff.

Sexual orientation, gender, ethnic minority. These are artificial divisions. People are the same inside.

Whether your character is a normal person with an attraction to the same sex or someone who has gone full Julian Clary it matters not. Just write them with feelings like yours.

Good luck
BC
I agree... I am just afraid of making a caricature instead of a character....
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
It's an interesting question to consider actually. How do people know that the 7th guy they shot in Call of Duty wasn't gay? Was it because we expect them to 'look' gay? The same goes for action films. Why is it it can go without question when it's a straight man, but it can't go without question for a gay man? Why does it need to be telegraphed?

I think it depends on the importance of the character. The guy you shot in Call of Duty could be gay, or not... it doesn't matter for the context of that setting and character. And honestly, with the queer baiting/killing done especially in shows/movies, I would rather not know the characters getting killed are gay in that scenario. But, if there is a character that appears recurrently or has lines who is gay, I think it is a good idea to learn how to subtly insert some cues signaling that potential to the reader. There are plenty of visual, verbal and social indicators of queer culture (or that of any identity group) - some are stereotypical, some are not. It doesn't mean someone straight can't share the traits, but it opens the character up to be relatable to queer readers (many of us are looking for those little signs). For example, here is a list of traits that could be somehow written in to potentially signal a lesbian character (obviously some would be super stereotypical/less desirable to use when writing a character than others):

a girl telling a girl she "likes her style"
moving emotionally fast in a relationship/uhauling
willingness for long distance relationship
cuffed sleeves
beanies
Vans/Doc Martins
flannels
slouching/sitting loosely in chairs
undercuts
short fingernails
finger jokes
jokes about the lengthy sex
being a reader
talking about not wanting kids or wanting to adopt or sperm banks
having chickens/goats
doing things like car repair or riding dirt bikes
jokes about having no one to kill the spider
rainbow jewelry, accessories, or on clothes (subtle or obvious)
being a cat person
into crystals, identifies as a witch, into zodiac signs
androgynous dress
hoodies/t-shirts with pride lines (just google pride merch)
(This list could go on and on)

Obviously, those are traits/characteristics that could be displayed by anyone and a lesbian could display none of them, but they are things lesbians joke/talk about or actually might do/exhibit. If you put a few of them together over the course of a story...you could have lesbians identifying with your character without having the character identify as a lesbian.


Having books about queer characters is great (although the coming out story is one of the more common, and not always the theme we want to digest). Having books populated with queer characters (where their queerness is not the story) is equally, if not more important (at least to me). I guess that's what I'm getting at when I say representation matters. :)

When adding characters from identity groups outside of our own, it think it's important to get readers from the identity groups we are trying to represent in order to catch red flags, inappropriate stereotypes, really any issues with representation.
 

kunox

Senior Member
I agre4e with ajoy.... lol.....I have a character named lolas who looks androgynous even as a ninja.... I haven't released that story yet... I swear he is just a male kunoichi{a.k.a a guy female ninja}.. kunoichi means female ninja...
 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
The more you learn and the more you practice the better you can get. None of us are born knowing these things, we have to experience the world, put effort into learning, to meeting people, to doing things. Then we can write about it.
 
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