This blog post is specifically aimed to readers of my material who are trans or belong to trans families. I love you as an audience and love that several of you have talked to me about presenting your gender to the world. (Or in one case your mother did, but don’t worry – it was wonderful.) I will first tell you I am so honored to have your readership. Trans people in today’s world are braver than any fantasy hero, and I’m humbled to be in your beautiful presence.
I’d like to let you know that I haven’t got things quite right in my writing yet on trans, enby, or related issues. But I will try harder for my next series, so please stick with me. Spireseeker was well-intentioned but had several misses on gender. I still think it’s worthwhile and full of heart and spirit, and hope you will enjoy. As for Shkode, the passage in The Fettered Flame that discusses a trans identity is one my favorite. I’m so proud of it and hope you like it. But even The Fettered Flame doesn’t present things just how I’d prefer, and I’d like to explain to you why.
For purposes of spoilers, I am going to refer to two characters as A and B. Character A, and you will know them if you’ve read The Fettered Flame, is fighting against multiple types of prejudice. Basically, a character fighting for a cis identity. There are many more layers to it (related to privilege and hypocrisy—would love to discuss sometime but am worried about spoilers) but basically I thought this was an interesting spin on gender identity. (Whose inspiration maybe I’ll discuss at a later date.)
HOWEVER… as early drafts were shared, people—even people with modern gender views—were referring to A as a transgender character, when clearly they are not. In fact, the character struggles with their resentment against people thinking that one’s actions or appearance make them trans rather than one’s gender. I became worried this storyline would become confused with trans issues, including A’s comments that clothing does not define gender. In no way does this storyline or this aspect speak against trans identity – for example while clothing may be important to express gender, it certainly doesn’t define it. Gender defines gender.
So, in order to make clear the difference, I decided to introduce an open trans character, whom we will call B. This was after the storyline had been drafted. In my quest to create something meaningful, I picked a character of whom I was very fond, one who I considered a great hero of the story, and thought this aspect folded into their heroism well, and gave me the chance to contrast an actual trans character to A, who is fighting other types of gender prejudice, but who is solidly cis. The problem here was: B is a victim of violence, bringing me very close to the trope of trans character as violence victim. Once I realized this, I worked hard on crafting the words not to link the two, but I do understand any wishes this would not have been the case. I wish it too.
So, to you, trans readers:
- I hope you appreciate B’s conversation with Jwala near the end of The Fettered Flame and know the love with which it was authored; I think B’s words should be an inspiration to all of us
- Know that B’s status as victim of violence was not meant to be directly related to their gender or trans experience but instead to their heroism and conviction
- Know that in my next series, I’ll make absolutely sure to feature an complex and heroic trans character and keep them away from problematic links. I mean, characters can be naturally problematic. But we haven’t come far enough on trans issues yet and so we need to be extra sensitive, in my opinion.
I hope you understand and I hope that you will read and enjoy my writing. It is sent to you—to all of you!—with such love.