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Cis authors writing trans stories

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by InfinityonHigh, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. InfinityonHigh

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    I've seen quite a bit of debate on the topic of cis actors playing trans roles, but not as much on this topic. So what's everyone's thoughts on cis authors writing trans stories?
     
  2. randomconnorcon

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    Fiction: Well, I'd focus more on the story and the characters than the author. At least the first time. If they wrote a trans character well - meaning, without all the stereotypes and wrong words and stuff - go them, I'd probably read more. If they wrote a trans character and it didn't work, or worse they showed their own negative views in the writing, I probably wouldn't trust/read their work anymore.

    Biographical type works: Similar to above, would depend on if they could be bothered to actually do research, interviews with trans people, etc.
     
    #2 randomconnorcon, Dec 15, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  3. BradThePug

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    As long as a personresearches before they write a story, I don't think there is a problem. The issue comes when people do not do their research.
     
  4. Matto_Corvo

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    My view on this is the same as my view on cis actors playing trans characters.....as long as they portray the character correctly and do their research then I do not mind.
     
  5. Michael

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    Same as writing about Tuaregs, the 20s or creating a believable character that has nothing to do with you... Do your research, and do your job well.

    I never wondered about the gender or the personal circumstances of any writer, unless he spoke to me on a personal level. I've had many surprises through the years : Men who you'd expect to be women, incredible descriptions of places they never went to, and so on... All is possible on paper.
     
  6. Reciprocal

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    I think that part of the magic of fiction is that you (when writing or reading) can put yourself in someone else's shoes. If the cis author does a good job with relating to the trans character, there is no problem whatsoever.
     
  7. plant

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    I don't mind as long as they use the correct vocabulary, do research, etc. I think the piece they are writing or the character they are portraying would be more effective at educating the public if the writer/actor was trans though.
     
  8. thepandaboss

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    I'm basically just going to echo everyone else here. As long as the author did their research and handles the character respectively, they're good to go. After all, authors write characters of different sexualities, races, backgrounds, and classes all the time. Why not trans characters?

    One of the better examples I've come across recently was "Silver" by Scott Cairns. His protagonist was a trans man back in the Victorian period. His depiction of Avery Silver is actually pretty respectful. (I only read the first half of the book though. Once it switches to his girlfriend, it gets really boring) Male pronouns no matter how the character is presenting (I think this is absolutely key if you're writing from the trans character's perspective and it's part of my limitus test), a somewhat accurate depiction of dysphoria, etc. Maybe it's the fact that the author's male but Silver sounds like a man too, which, as I'm going to explain in a moment, a lot of people miss the mark with.

    My biggest pet peeve is when authors, usually YA writers, just don't know how to make the character sound authentic. And the sad thing is, they're usually well-meaning. My usual example is the character of Grady from Ellen Wittlinger's "Parrotfish". Grady's meant to be a trans boy who's just starting his transition. Ms. Wittlinger meant so well that she even included a glossary of terms and resources in the back of her book. But the portrayal completely falls flat. Grady talks like a middle aged old woman. For a good majority of the book, he doesn't even really refer to himself as male even though he knows he wants to transition.

    Another huge pet peeve of mine is when you see this on the back cover (and "Parrotfish" totally does this): "Elisa McGirly is uncomfortable in her body. But then she transitions to male and changes her name to Eliot McManly. Eliot is cool with his life but as a trans guy, he has issues to deal with."

    Why do I hate that? It's a clunky way for the author to say the character is transgender. The pronoun switch throws people off. And it's a little offensive (at least to me) because half the time the character already identifies as transgender by the beginning of the story. Just say:

    "Eliot McManly is transgender. And he deals with issues throughout the story, blah blah blah."

    That's it. That's all you have to say. If a reader still doesn't get it, they can read the story and find out what it all means through the narrative.
     
  9. DreamerBoy17

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    This^
     
  10. ForNarnia

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    If the characters are good, well-rounded and interesting, who cares who wrote them? If a black writer wrote about a white character, there would be no problem. If a gay man wrote about a bisexual woman, no-one would complain.

    To be fair, I think any author who writes a wide variety of characters which are inclusive of various genders, ethnicities, sexualities and religious beliefs, then as long as they are not writing in an offensive way, they are doing a very good thing for representation.
     
  11. dray7

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    If a cis author writes a trans character (as long as it isn't an offensive portrayal) then that's a great thing! More representation! However, if cis people try to write stories about trans people, about coming out and finding your identity and starting to transition, like, that's the plot, I'd rather not. Let trans people tell their own stories. Include trans characters but don't speak over actual trans people.
     
  12. Matto_Corvo

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    Are you talking about a piece of fiction or a biography?
    I think a cis person can write about these. A person being cis does not mean they can't understand a trans person or write about the transitioning process. And a lot of official bios aren't written by the person they are about, though they were there to answer any questions the arthor would have.
     
  13. loveislove01

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    I feel like it's fine if they've done their research and aren't being offensive.

    I mean, there is such a thing as historical fiction, and I'm sure the authors didn't live 600 years and decided to write a book.
     
  14. MetalRice

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    If they do their research and all that then I don't have a problem.
     
  15. FootballFan101

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    Their book, if theh arent offensive its ok
     
  16. Distant Echo

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    Anyone can write about anything. It's whether they do it well or not that matters.

    Males write female characters, females write male, cis write trans. I'm sure there are trans writing cis.

    Just write well and no issue at all.
     
  17. tgOlivia

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    I want a good, interesting book. If it is accurate that's just a plus. So if they are good writers I really don't care.
     
  18. thepandaboss

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    Oh and I would also like to mention that one day I'd love to see an author (doesn't matter whether they're cis or not) write a story about a trans character that doesn't necessarily revolve around their transition. Now, transition is a big part of our lives as trans people. Heck, I'm sure the day I got my legal name change done is still going to be one of the biggest, best days of my life years from now. That being said, I think it'd be nice to see some more stories that feature a trans character who's just living their life. They can be at any stage of their transition, since transitions are different for everyone. Heck, maybe they do transition in the story. But the story can revolve around something else besides that. I want to see some crazy genre fiction. I want to see stories where the trans characters don't have to explain their own existence. They can just be like any other character. And we're already starting to see this with gay characters in fiction, where their sexuality is simply incidental and isn't the subject of the plot. There will always be room for stories about a character's transition or coming out. But let's widen the field a bit.
     
  19. SpiderGwen

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    I do agree with the general sentiment that, so long as the author has done their research and is respectable when it comes to the character, it's very much a non-issue.

    However, there's also something to be said for having more trans and non-binary voices out there, writing about their own experiences in both fiction and non-fiction. If given the opportunity, I want to be a non-binary voice in superhero comics. I know, silly, but there's a place for LGBTQIA folk in the genre, and not necessarily as background characters or tokens on a predominantly cis-het team. I also don't think retconning established characters' sexuality for the sake of diversity helps anyone. It reeks of tokenism and quotas, and quite frankly, the X-Men should not be the team of tokenism and quotas.

    Really, it'd just be nice to see a non-binary person put together their own book, their own team, and hope it succeeds on a level like the X-Men, because I know that for a lot of us, the X-Men were really the only thing that actually spoke to us as kids, and even then, it was all allegory and code. Mutation was a stand-in for being LGBTQIA, especially in the 90s and beyond. And what sucks now is all the BS going on with the movie rights, where now the comics are trying to replace mutants with inhumans, it just feels like the book that seemed to almost understand us is being replaced for the sake of movies.

    I know, a bit off topic, but it would be nice to see trans and non-binary voices on more than just a small or independent level. Unfortunately, the nature of the beast is that marginalized voices only speak to marginalized audiences, or so they say. The cis-het speak for everyone, but we only speak for ourselves. That kind of crap. But in the meantime, if the cis-het are going to speak for us, and they actually care enough to try and get it right, good on them. Hopefully, it leads to more of us having our voices heard in mainstream media. It'd be nice.
     
  20. baconpox

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    Anyone can write about anything. That includes cis authors about trans characters.