To Readers in the Trans Community

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.

With admiration,
E

I don’t like sharing the bathroom.

I find, “Would you really like to share the restroom with a dude?” to be such a creepy and winless question. Of course the answer is no.

First, the question is generally meant to mean a transgendered woman, or as I call her, a person. Or, preferably, her name. If I know it.

For those who don’t already know this, the use of gendered bathrooms by non-binary or transgender people has been an issue for a long time. The resolution usually goes either go one of two ways: a quiet acceptance and lack of publicity so people who might get fussy don’t find out (meaning, they just go to the bathroom, nothing bad happens, and people don’t tell anyone who would be a jerk about it), or a separate unmarked bathroom that is then flocked to by other people for private dumps (this is horrible and I’ve seen it several times). Though this has been, for many, a heart wrenching issue for a very long time, recent gains in LGBT civil rights have people now concerned enough to pass new laws about it. Or, in most cases post righteous memes on social media, while in the meantime real people are living a nightmare.

There are few notions more offensive to me than the narrative that a person of either non-binary or trans gender is going to assault people in bathrooms. In fact, that’s all I plan to say on that. But, if people don’t have that reason to worry, then the question is why should they worry? The answer – no reason. If you don’t agree with people living transgendered, or don’t think it’s a real thing, so? Maybe you don’t agree with gays, or divorce, or people wearing old Steely Dan T-shirts – these people are all allowed in the bathroom. There is zero reason to single one group out, just because they bother someone else. This is America. Freedom.

Just the idea of people now checking IDs at the door, or questioning what it “looks like” to be a woman saddens me. Or what it “looks like” to be anyone. Or making sure people are normal or attractive or appropriately feminine, or wherever the heck this is going. Hey, dads, want to help your young daughter in the restroom? Men with elderly or special needs companions? Men’s room is getting cleaned? Come on in. It’s a bathroom.

So, would I like to share a bathroom with a dude? No. Would I like to share a bathroom with a trans-woman? No. Why would I want that? Would I like to share a bathroom with a little girl? Uh, no, weird. What about an awkward teenager? Not in the least. A band of old ladies? Not particularly. How about my female co-workers? Nope. Not specifically. Neighbors? No. Complete strangers. Not really. Husband? Do I get a choice?

In fact, here’s my position on the issue: My ideal public bathroom would be a network of locked, fully sanitary chambers, reserved for use only by me and never shared by others. (Except that people are allowed to clean it while I’m not there, because I don’t like cleaning bathrooms either.) This restroom will also play only Madonna, will smell like evergreens, will have one of those hand dryers that makes your skin wiggle, and will feature vegan soaps and sanitizers. Oh, and the floor will always be dry. Also nature-inspired tilework mosaics and real wood window frames like in old-school rest areas.

In closing, I do not want to share a bathroom with anyone. Now, would I share a bathroom with someone else? Sure, whatever. It’s a public bathroom. My priorities: 1) ability to “go” 2) least amount of time there as possible. If you don’t agree with me, well, think about it. You may realize it’s really all ok. It comes back to the golden rule of America: one person’s freedom is more important than another person’s discomfort with that freedom.

This Independence Day, remember liberty is a wonderful – and precious – thing.

Cheers, E.

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