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Transexuals in Indie books?

Discussion in 'Tea Room (Book Chat)' started by atry, July 31, 2018.

  1. atry

    atry Member

    I just realised that I've read more indie books with were-seals in than transexual or transgender individuals. In real life that numbers are reversed (unless there are a lot of selkies who keep a really good masquerade). So why is this? Unless the books dealing specificially with the issues, they don't seem to feature at all.
  2. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire Scribe

    To be fair, unless you're writing romance, how many characters' gender or orientation really affect the plot, or get mentioned. What an observer thinks other people are is mentioned, but if it is close-third or first person, those are just assumptions on another character's part and there's no one to correct the reader.
  3. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    A good point. While it is unlikely all of the characters seen in passing are LGBT, there are likely to be at least a few, or the even rarer a-, inter- or bi-sexual characters who aren't close enough for the main characters to notice or care.

    Fictional characters may have a gender, but unless you actually see them unclothed, why assume fictional characters are the same biological sex as the gender they represent as? What is under those clothes should surely be relevant only to family and partners.
  4. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    Ha, I would imagine there are more transexuals than selkies in the world. It can be difficult to write from the perspective of someone you're not. In the case of selkies, it's easier because there aren't living, breathing people out there that you could be stereotyping. The fear of misrepresentation might be holding them back.
  5. skye

    skye Member

    It is great to challenge views and encourage acceptance, but one of the major concerns for indies has to be getting the biggest following they can. If Stephen Hawking can remove something as close to his heart as equations from a Brief History of Time to get more readers, I think many indie authors may write around a difficult topic or just avoid it.

    This isn't only a fault of indies though. Didn't VHF have a story about being asked to change the race of one of his characters by a publishing house for that reason?
  6. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    That brings up another issue, whether it is better to have a best effort attempt at featuring a group which risks accusations of stereotyping, or to simply omit them altogether and risk accusations of erasure.
  7. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire Scribe

    Excuse the hi-jack but:
    Yep, and I know the details. One of the first houses that wanted Fire Season insisted all references to Matt being a Maori were removed. The result was a fit of author's pique removing all physical descriptions from all characters in the book, before he pulled the manuscript out of their hands. There's one reference to grey hair, and that's it.

    The publishing house is now closed, so I won't name them. I will confirm it wasn't RA, who got the book and published it after a series of small press issues.
  8. Mine all mine

    Mine all mine Member

    I suspect mostly it is just not in because it is just not relevant to the story. Guy's guarding your back with a gun, do you care if he used to be a girl, or if he can shoot straight?
  9. Meandering

    Meandering New Member

    Never attribute to malice that which can be put down to lazy writing;)?
  10. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    Some genres really won't cover characters' genders in detail anyway, like children's books. Other genres might not be percieved as friendly to it. For example, books aimed as comfortable reading are going to avoid anything that might challenge the readers, and some authors will think that publicly acknowledging transexualism would be a problem. Others would see it as slowing the story if it is not a focus, or as 'othering' transexuals if no other character receives that degree of background detail.
  11. penumbra

    penumbra Member

    It almost seems like a lose-lose for the author which might be why some simply opt for not going into detail. As others have said, a character's gender isn't always important either. It's a difficult line to walk. Being vague about gender honestly seems like the safest choice.
  12. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire Scribe

    Yes, after all in a fantasy world with shapeshifting and polymorphing spells, there is no reason that the shapely, drop dead gorgeous, sorceress that the party are hired by might not have started out as a scruffy apprentice named Bob. Bob's long and dangerous quest to acquire the power to correct their ill-fitting male body, through the school of illusion at first, then driven to raiding dragon's lairs for mystical ingredients, the struggle to seek accepting deities, and eventually scribing the Scroll of Greater Polymorph to achieve her dream and solve her lifelong affliction, finally taking a new True Name to celebrate her new union of body and soul, just doesn't happen to be the focus of the story she's in.

  13. Duckie

    Duckie New Member

    Read this. Yeah uh. No words. [mod-edit]Pejorative religious reference made with deserved sincerity[/mod-edit]. It is the [mod-edit]Justified reproductive reference for emphasis[/mod-edit] twenty-first century.
    Last edited by a moderator: August 5, 2018
  14. Bookangel

    Bookangel Administrator Staff Member

    Hello Duckie. Welcome to the board, and I hope you enjoy your stay. While I agree with your sentiments entirely, swearing is only allowed in The Dive forum, so I have mod-edited your post to fit this board. Message me at @Bookangel if you have any problems.
  15. Post-Life Crisis

    Post-Life Crisis New Member

    I will never look at arm candy the same way again.
  16. Mine all mine

    Mine all mine Member

    Fixed that for you.
  17. Post-Life Crisis

    Post-Life Crisis New Member

    Never been a fan of Evil-Lynn. She always seemed rather two-dimensional:p.
  18. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry Member

    That was bad, and you should feel bad.
  19. atry

    atry Member

    Write it. I. Will. Pay. You.
  20. Cece

    Cece New Member

    I think that this might be part of the equation.

    With selkies, I'm sure they're included for specific reasons. You don't just have, "A wild selkie appeared," and then do nothing with it. At the least, they might be mentioned for world-building purposes. I don't know if the same goes for transgender characters. It feels like they need more intent to be inserted into a story. It almost feels like more of a slight to throw in a transgender character and then not really explore their story more fully. Does that make sense? I'm not sure I'm getting my thoughts across well.

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