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Chris James

I dare myself to go there...

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Most of you have seen the stories I write. I like to present a diverse spread of ideas and characters which entertain the readers and of course, the author as I bash away at the keyboard. I am always looking for new subjects to write about...and then I saw this:

http://www.advocate....naugural-speech

Perhaps there are others better qualified to write about the transgender folk in the LBGT world. The brief story about this 11 year old left me understanding that I know so little about this piece of my gay community...I want to know more.

Does anyone see an issue with researching the subject and writing, even a short story, about transgender individuals? Perhaps not this young, but it could start there and maybe bring the readers some better understanding. It would definitely educate me as did this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kergan-edwardsstout/the-mother-of-a-transgender-child-speaks-out_b_1868029.html

Ideas? Comments?

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I don't know. Even with research I think it would be extremely hard to pull off successfully. Being is gay is something we've had experience of, so creating fiction within the bounds of one's personal knowledge isn't a stretch. But Transgender is so completely outside one's (my) worldview I'd find it hard, if not impossible.

But then that's what writers do. We write fantasy, so why not write fantasy with a Transgender hero / heroine. Though I think you'd have to tread very carefully.

Sexuality I see as a long line: with totally straight at one end and totally gay at the other. Being Transgendered I imagine as a dissonance/disconnect between the physical and the mental.... That's how I imagine it, though I can't truly imagine being stuck inside a female body. Perhaps it's more to do with the soul than any brain chemistry? The right soul but the wrong body?

All you can do is give it your best, Chris.

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What struck me about that article was that the girl's parents began the transgender switch when she was five. That just seemed way too young to me, which I suppose is simply evidence that I don't know enough about this. But I didn't think strong enought male/female identity existed at that age to make such a fundamental decision for their child.

You've got a great deal of courage, writing about this from the person's perspective. As Camy says, writing about what we know is much more straightforward than having to wonder if every thought and feeling we're assigning to someone is accurate.

C

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I am currently working on the third installment of the Goldendale trilogy. One of the characters is an adolescent M2F. I see no reason why, given enough research and sensitivity, such characters shouldn't appear in our work. We write straight characters, don't we? Granted, we probably know more straight people than transgendered people. If you find yourself guessing what such a character's reaction might be in a given situation, more research might be indicated. The issue of what age is appropriate to begin transition is controversial as is the place of Gender Identity Disorder in the DSM-IV-TR. What amazes me is the complex array of gender identities any of which may match with various sexual orientations. Chris, you may well find resources in your community who will help you with the accuracy of your portrayal. One thing I've learned is that many transgendered people are tired of being asked to explain their situations and feel the burden of education should rest with those seeking education.

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Does anyone see an issue with researching the subject and writing, even a short story, about transgender individuals? Perhaps not this young, but it could start there and maybe bring the readers some better understanding. It would definitely educate me as did this article:

http://www.huffingto..._b_1868029.html

Ideas? Comments?

Grant Bently did this exact thing but in reverse.

http://www.codeysworld.com/grant-bentley/i-never-really-was-one/i-never-really-was-one.html

Do your research and run with it.

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Chris,

Heather Rose Brown has several short stories about transgender teens on Codey's World (http://www.codeysworld.com/Heather%20Rose%20Brown/index.html). I found them interesting because they gave me a view of transgenderism that it isn't something to be hidden.

Colin :icon_geek:

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In my life I have known two transgender people. At the time we met one of them was in his twenties and had undergone reassignment surgery male to female. She was a wealth of knowledge on the subject at the time but I think she didn't have a handle on her emotions and needed psychiatric care. The other was a sixteen year old actor who was working on his transition without the support of his parents. He had a long road ahead.

Both those cases did nothing to make me feel comfortable with the subject. I will need to do a whole bunch of research if my characters are younger. I have already begun to assemble some facts and thought to present them in journal format, a diary of changes if you will.

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What struck me about that article was that the girl's parents began the transgender switch when she was five. That just seemed way too young to me, which I suppose is simply evidence that I don't know enough about this. But I didn't think strong enought male/female identity existed at that age to make such a fundamental decision for their child.

That's my take as well, Cole. I don't think anybody knows that much about their sexual identity until they're a lot older. There's quite a bit of medical research out there that shows that a large percentage of transgendered patients ultimately regret the switch within five years. Me personally, I say accept what you're born with and learn to live with it.

Having said that: I have no problem that people should have the freedom to do what they want with their lives. It'd be hard for me to identify with the protagonist of a story who went through this procedure (in either direction), but I salute Chris for having the courage to even consider trying it.

I have known a few transgendered people, and some of them you'd believe 100% as their newly-acquired sexual identity. Others look like a fat guy in a dress (or what my partner calls "The Chaz Bono Effect.") Too often, I think people who are trying to change their sexual identity are searching for something they can't find. To me, the problem is more between their ears, not what sexual apparatus they were born with. They need to learn to love themselves, embrace themselves for what they are, and make the most of it.

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I think it is impossible for me to know what it is like to feel driven in this direction. What I do know, however, is that five year-olds don't have the maturity or the wisdom or the perspective to make this decision. Parents who aid and abet life-altering decisions made by immature children are not, in my estimation, competent to be parents.

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I am discovering while reading, and have known from other sources, that the permanent change of sexual assignment is not taken lightly. So far it seems that most laws in this regard place a heavy burden on the medical establishment to evaluate these kids and adults wanting a change. Years of therapy preceed any application of medicine that prevents puberty.

I understand that puberty is considered a crisis point for many transgender persons, usually around age 13, but sometimes as young as 11. I think if a child is under professional observation at an early age it allows a doctor to watch the development and inform the parents. Parents alone cannot make this diagnosis, and from what I read most are very confused about the behavior of their children in the early stages.

Should these kids be allowed the transition? I don't have an answer or any religious bias on the matter. Thwarting puberty only allows more time to contemplate the reassignment possibilities or the application of drugs that will assert male or female characteristics. But the individual will eventually have to make that decision and some choose not to have the surgery.

My hope is to write (and I have already begun) about my character as an adult facing the permanent reassignment and look back on childhood development as a means of understanding the feelings, the need. At this point I have no idea how my story will end.

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There's a pretty stunning book written some years back about a boy who was accidentally mangled as an infant by a doctor during routine circumcision surgery. The doctor advised the parents to put the child through sex-change surgery, which they reluctantly did. The child grew up as a girl, but spent its life being confused and concerned, because it was naturally inclined to do a lot of "non-girl" things. Eventually, they admitted to the child what had happened, and I think the (now-grown) child made the decision to take male hormones and go back to being male. I think eventually, the man committed suicide, so it's a harrowing story.

This has nothing to do with Chris' story, though, and I'm curious how this might go. There's already a story in the news about two transgendered teenagers (one M->F, one F->M) who have somehow hooked up as a couple, and you know... they look pretty damned good together. If they're happy and life works for them, more power to them. Still, Howard Stern has had quite a few transgendered people on as guests on his radio show, and most of them admit that orgasms are not the same in their new body. I'm not sure I see the point of a guy with a vagina having sex with a guy, vs. a guy with a penis having sex with a guy.

But again: I try very hard to be a tolerant guy, and I concede that what's right for me isn't right for everybody. I'd like to see where Chris takes the story, especially if it was a guy falling in love with another guy... and the latter used to be a girl! Lots of inherent conflict with that plotline.

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