I’m currently working on Rare Beasts, a contemporary fantasy described by many as being Leprechaun Noir, which is a phrase I quite like and a genre I will, of course, have claim to have invented when the time comes.
Anyway, the main character in the book is a female-to-male transsexual. This was suggested originally by my fiancee back when I was deciding whether to make the MC male or female. I dismissed the transsexual idea at first but then realised … yeah, why not? And thus Bren McCullough, mythical animal poacher, was born.
The book is nearing the end of its third draft, and will soon be ready for beta readers. However, I decided to present the first three chapters to my writing group to see what they thought of it. And one thing that came across was that they wanted the character’s transsexual nature to have a point in the story, to “mean” something. But I disagree, and severely.
You see, the point of having a transgender character is precisely that it doesn’t mean anything. Some people are transgender, but that isn’t the most interesting thing about them. It’s just a part of who they are. You never have to justify the gender of a character normally in fiction. Nobody asks: “but WHY is he male?” Bren is a expert in his area, a guy out having an adventure. Being transgender colours his experiences, sure, but no more than being bald or overweight would. I don’t see why it needs to be defended as a story point. It just is, and I think it makes the story stronger through the very fact of not being important.
There is also the point that many literary agents are clamouring for books featuring characters of atypical gender. The world has enough moody young men-men or victimised women in its stories. I decided to go a different route and see where it got me. And to be honest, I’m very glad I did. Bren is awesome and I’m glad to have made his acquaintance.
Note: the book will be ready for beta readers in three weeks or so. If you want to get in on the action, feel free to follow me on twitter and I’ll let you know when the time comes for tossing it out to the wolves.