You know that old writer’s saying – something very few creative writing professors will actually recommend to their students – that whole write what you know business? I prefer to write what I want to know. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of writing at all? With The Poet of Boroughs, Texas – which may or may not remain the title of story I’m working on – I’m writing a subject I’ve never ventured before – gender identity.
While, yes, I’ve written about homosexual characters – mostly men – before, I’ve always implied they were rather cisgender, or gender normative. Just because they liked sleeping with men, didn’t mean they wanted to be women. And while I’ve been known to put on a skirt in the past, doesn’t mean I know what’s going on in the minds of people who were born into the wrong gender role.
Transgenders fascinate me in ways other than creepy fetishism. It was only a matter of time before I opted to write about transgenderism. It’s not an activist tale I’m transpiring; it’s more of a love story gone awry. It’s not just gender roles I’m focusing on, it’s the sexuality business that has tainted media culture for a while now. Because my narrators usually the play the role of the what-I-know in the story, the Poet doesn’t subscribe to sexuality – much like the god (me) who breathed life into him. This unlabeled sexual group was – inevitably – labeled pomosexual. His social group is made up of the openly homosexual, Michael Quinn (shorted to simply Mike in this version) and bisexual Fiona (who went through several names in the other versions). There’s straight guy and musician, Steven Michaels (whose younger brother, Peter, is a character bit I started up in high school). Possible lesbian ex-girlfriend, Jennifer de la Cruz also plays a role in this version of the story – the girl was named something else in other versions, but I combined her with the name of an only mentioned character of later drafts). [Note: I based the original Jenn on an Internet acquaintance who acted as the main character’s moral compass. She was only mentioned at the beginning of another version as a salutation – “Dear Jenn.” That version of the story was a letter to the unknown character, and I felt her importance was insignificant. This version, now named Jennifer, doesn’t serve the same purpose, and, obviously, not based off of anyone.] Dick Masters serves a role as the Female-to-Male transgender, while Kelly Winters (formerly Richards) serves as the Male-to-Female transgender.
Like with most large projects, I’ve opted to make a playlist to listen to – meditate to, really – when I get stuck. This one kept most of the same songs that original versions contained. Because I’m a sucker for sharing playlists, I’m gonna go ahead and list it:
- Post Blue – Placebo
- In The Shadow of the Valley of Death – Marilyn Manson
- Malchik gay (original Russian version) – t.A.T.u.
- Lollirot – Jack Off Jill
- Lenore’s Song – Yunyu
- Waste – Staind
- Dear Joan – Tabitha’s Secret
- Sleep Well, My Angel – We Are the Fallen
- I’m a Monster – Ours
- Wasted (Acoustic) – Stabbing Westward
- Anthems For a Seventeen Year Old Girl – Broken Social Scene
- Capital G (Switch Remix) – Nine Inch Nails
- Odno I To Zhe (Long Repeat Mix) – t.A.T.u. & Rammstein
- Ur a WMN Now – Otep
- Glimmer – The Album Leaf
- Epiphany – Staind
Because I’m a big fan of music, I normally don’t just play the playlist and write. These last few nights I’ve listened to just about anything. Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, VNV Nation’s Future Perfekt, Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV, as well as, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s The Social Network soundtrack, most things t.A.T.u. (both American and Russian albums), the Radiohead 01/10 playlist and whatever my phone just happens to hold.
This story’s heavily infused with gender issues and music – but music always plays a vital role in my writing. As does pop culture, though the references in this story are limited and whittled down to just literature references. I’ll see what direction it’ll take me, and what I take from it in the end. And as I’ve said in the last post, I might just share a piece with you.
- Cross-dresser: “I Don’t Want To Be A Woman,” [Gender Studies] (jezebel.com)
- Art that Empowers Girls (drdeborahserani.blogspot.com)
- Gender Differences in Emotional Health (everydayhealth.com)
- Neurosexism examined: Delusions of Gender (boingboing.net)
4 thoughts on “Gender Bending Confusion”
Just a note – trans people aren’t transgenders, a man assigned female at birth is a trans man and a woman assigned male at birth is a trans woman (certainly not a trap) (and there’s not just two binary genders). Don’t get pulled into the fetishism thing, trans folks get enough of that crap anyway. By all means write about us, I’ve written what I can’t experience enough in the past, just try to do it from a standpoint of knowledge and compassion. There’s plenty of stuff online about trans people, our experiences and the challenges we face; have a read of the blog Questioning Transphobia. (http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/)
I was under the impression that the term transgender covered three bases: those who do not conform to conventional notions of gender roles; those who were assigned a sex at birth, but feel it doesn’t describe them correctly; and the non-identification with the sex one was assigned as birth. And that the terms trans-man/woman were used during the transitional phases. Of course, I’m an outsider when it comes to the “community.” Transsexual, the term used medically, would be a better term to use? As for the term trap, well, you know where I picked that up as I mentioned the – very made up – term anonspeak. I have no intention of dragging the fetishism into the story, though (at the heart of the plot) it does have a small role – the character Dick Masters is a pornographer of sorts. I’m not sure how I can explain it without giving more than I already have away, so I’ll just refrain from it.
Thank you for the site, by the way. I’ll check it out. I’m hoping it’ll shed a little more light on the phobia that litters the world. Not to mention the misconceptions – such as, homosexuality plays a role with gender identity, etc.
Transgender does indeed cover the second two of the three bases, not the first so much; that’s gender nonconformity, and putting it in with transgender tends to end up with a lot of people getting angry (trans people for misappropriation of trans identity, gender nonconforming people who still identify with their assigned sex for erasure of their identities). Trans man/trans woman (note the space; trans then becomes a descriptor like ‘tall’ and so emphasises the man/woman part) are words that you use if the trans status is what you are talking about; otherwise woman/man is fine. The terms are useful regardless of ‘transition status’ since the concept of transition status is meaningless; some people have individual preferences though. Transgender is an adjective (it’s a loong time since I thought about grammar…) and should be used as such; transsexual ditto, but it’s still being argued as to which is ‘better’. Don’t worry about trying to explain it; I write myself and I know it’s hard to explain without giving away.
Hope you find Questioning Transphobia useful, they write very well on a variety of topics. Also, you might fancy having a read of http://tranarchism.com/2010/11/26/not-your-moms-trans-101/; it’s a trans 101, but without cissexism, binarism, transphobia and all the other stuff that so often infuses trans 101s.