Many of you know that I’m the parent of a trans-teen, so there’s certain issues and causes I’m passionate about–but I’m hesitant to throw my hat in the ring when readers are critical of authors misrepresenting trans people. Why? –because my first erotic horror novel did just that.
I crafted Gadarene as an ill-informed CIS-gendered heterosexual, and the trans character in the book displays many idealized misconceptions CIS people have about transwomen. I got away with it I think because the character was emotionally traumatized, and the angst over identity formula is often given a quiet pass. When I look back at Gadarane, I can see that making Wira Boruta deny her true nature toward the end, wasn’t just my ignorant way of making m/m fans happy—it was my ignorant way of viewing a transwoman.
My teen is a non-binary transperson (back then they were 9 nine years old, unable to engage in a dialog with me about my problematic representation of Wira). Having grown with them and seen the struggles, the ignorance, and the downright wrongness aimed at gay and lesbian transpeople, I’m regretful of my CIS colored heteronormative representation of Wira Boruta.
I’m proud of the story that C.B. Potts helped me tell in Gadarene, but I’m ashamed of the choices I made in depicting my trans-character.
Flash forward many years later, to a short story I wrote for an Eastern European magazine. The transman Jonathan Cole in the short Mine to Keep, doesn’t get the full realization Wira did in Gadarene—but my positive representation of him is sullied when falls victim to the sociopathic ego of the surgeon, that made him the man he was born to be.
My teen doesn’t read my erotic works, but upon explanation of the character, found (my) healthy depiction of a transman got ruined by the violence (I) perpetrated against him. They asked me to stop writing transpeople if you can’t portray them without beating them up with your own baggage. I almost dismissed their words, because I beat up every character I write with my own baggage—no matter what their identity, but my teen is right, maybe I should step away if my only use for a trans character is to eroticize, or victimize, or worse.