laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
So there's a story I've been poking at over the last few weeks, trying to coax it into shape for a deadline at the end of the month, and I think it's time to admit that it's defeated me. I'm trying to negotiate Here Be Dragons territory, and it's just too tricky for me to manage on a deadline.

The as-yet-nameless protagonist (first person lets one get away with that for a while) is of uncertain gender, you see. I know how the character presents, and what anatomy the character has, but not how that translates to identity. And depending on how I went with it, that could wind up being extremely problematic—because the character is also not entirely human.

If I decide I'm writing a butch lesbian, then the problem is somewhat ameliorated: she's a strange magical thing, but she's not the only lesbian in the story. The other woman is fully human and not a magical creature at all. She doesn't take on the complete-otherness stigma of having her sexuality represented by magical monstrosity.

If, on the other hand, I decide I'm writing a trans man, then I'm in trouble. He'd be the only trans character in the story, which means there are drastically unpleasant implications to having him be so inhuman that his true face scares the piss out of someone. It becomes way, way too easy to equate his monster nature with his gender, and holy mother of whores do I not want to go that direction.

Laid out like that it sounds like my choice is easy: like my protagonist should be a lesbian, end of discussion. Except that doesn't feel right. Pinning this character down to a female identity leaves me feeling unsettled and unhappy. Am I writing too close to my self, here, trying to write a character who's somewhere in that no-man's-and-no-woman's-either-land, maybe shifting, maybe just straddling a line? Would I be better off trying to just discipline myself and write it as straight-up (ha) lesbian fic? Is it worth trying to wrestle this gator to the ground and find a way to write it as trans fic without making it gross?

I don't think I have any chance of getting answers to this one quickly. Probably I'm going to have to shelve this draft and let it stew—and write something else for that deadline.

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laylah: an illustration from  Through the Looking Glass: a black kitten pawing at a ball of yarn. (Default)
Laylah Hunter

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