I’m having a hard time understanding the joy of what has happened over this last week. I’ve gotten six pages into a rough draft on a new version of a story with unpublished characters who have been bumping around in my mind for decades.
The main point of this: I get to write from the perspective of a narrator who happens to be a transgender man. It’s giving me a gigantic amount of catharsis, and it’s reminding me of why I started writing.
I don’t find myself on the verge of chemical or social transition to masculine-of-center, at this point (though the latter might not be a bad idea). But just to be able to think through a situation from the viewpoint of a man (who is not me) — and not necessarily a cisgender man — helps me see where we differ. The commitment to a version of reality in his words, helps me see myself as the author, in contrast.
In earlier versions, he was cisgender. The decades have developed him.
I’ve been developing this character since I was around 14 or 15, and I imagined him to be 16 or 17. I’ve been exploring my own gender since I was about 19. Especially in early college, our identities were blurred; but hey, I was a teenager. I hadn’t had the chance to figure out who I was.
I consider myself currently gender-nonbinary. I’m fine with my body — fine enough to avoid becoming dependent on outside hormones, for now — though I do wish I were a bit fitter (which I can work on). It is easier to be accepted as trans* masculine when you put effort into it…and maybe I could take a hint and move the dial just a little so that I’m faster, stronger, trimmer.
I’m working on creative self-actualization, self-care, and health, in all areas of my life. It wouldn’t hurt to trial this.
There is no reason why I need to support a feminine appearance for myself: especially as, my gender does not match, “woman”; and neither am I invested in heterosexuality where it comes to my own future. The major issue of breaking the rules of heteronormativity is stigma, but the alternative to stigma is invisibility, which — in the absence of self-assertion — leads to erasure.
Truthfully, I still don’t know quite what to do with my gender. It’s a big part of the reason I’m still in therapy: there is no one right way to be nonbinary. And themes involving personally potent concepts like this, unavoidably come up in my writing. I then have to find some way to understand them, and reconcile them with my own self-concept: to recognize the fiction, as fiction, and yet learn what I can, from it.
Luckily, I have had experience since I first became a Creative Writer…and I have some relatively clear ideas of where I’m coming from, now. The not-quite-self-aware identity at 19; the recent graduate in their early twenties who couldn’t cope with the implications of their stories; is meeting their own adult version, as I write through the problems and worlds I’ve experienced.
I do need to stop telling myself the same stories as I have been. It’s uncreative. I can literally feel the difference between nonfiction and fiction, as I’m writing. One type of writing is reporting a dead story that has been repeating for decades. The other type is experiencing a new one.
It’s much more refreshing to move on. To develop, and change. Right now, it’s very apparent that one of my characters is dealing with stagnation. I can see that. It makes me want to help both of us.
And writing as this narrator is essentially being able to take on his character. For an asocial person, it feels like it would be close to my version of acting. In private. With many chances to get it right; to tweak the lines. To add needed support. What drives him? What part of myself that is him, drives me? Where does the boundary of authenticity lie, with me? With him?
I get to take on the mindset of a person who is not me, but who may be born from me. And I haven’t experienced this, in years.