What would you do?

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kris0707
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What would you do?

Postby kris0707 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm

Hopefully I'm writing this in the correct area, but I was hoping for some opinions about the conclusion to the first book I'll be writing. It's a story about a girl who has Asperger's Syndrome and also suffers with Gender Identity. I had two conclusions in mind for this story and the problem is... I've heard one of them is highly offensive. Here are the conclusions.

Conclusion 1 - The main character loses their only friend, but in the process learns to love themselves and accept themselves as a transgender.

Conclusion 2 - The main character loses their only friend and learns that the only reason she ever wanted to be a man is because she felt inferior as a woman. Her attraction to women was only there because she thought she HAD to be a man to mean anything and had to look at women in a sexualized manner due to how she was raised. This self-discovery leads her to realize her father was wrong in teaching her the way he did and that she could mean something as a woman. Finally, she confronts her dad and learns something in the process and, in the end, accepts herself as a woman.

In the story, the MC has a father who is always joking around and making sexist comments about women. Because the MC has Asperger's, she doesn't pick up on her father's sarcasm and takes the jokes seriously. I keep hearing conclusion number 2 is offensive to transgenders, but I've also heard that from a story POV, it's good because it's different than the expected outcome. I should probably say, I am basing this story on something that really happened and the MC is based on myself. I don't want the MC and I to be 100% the same, though which is why I'm questioning which ending to give the story.

Which ending would you go with? Any input/advice is greatly appreciated. :)

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ostarella
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Re: What would you do?

Postby ostarella » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:33 am

I can see where the second option would be... problematic. Now, I'm definitely not an expert in either area, but the transgender part, as far as I've read and discussed, is being unable to "fit" into the gender one was born with/into, regardless of who they're attracted to. I'm not sure that, even with the AS taken into account, feeling inadequate as a female would be enough to be believable. You could be opening yourself up for a lot of criticism about choice versus biology on that.

That said, if the story hinted at an uncertainty about being trans, then the combination of the AS and her father would be logical while at the same time allowing you to retain that "twist" at the end, using the second option.

Again, that's my take on it as a layman.
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Re: What would you do?

Postby miketom » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:05 am

I don't feel conclusion #2 is a good enough reason for wanting to be a man. No, stick with #1. It'll more believable.
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kris0707
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Re: What would you do?

Postby kris0707 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:11 am

Ostarella - You are correct about being transgender. This is very much based on something I've been going through and I felt that way most of my life, but the father character is in fact, based on my own. I have been accused of not being trans and just having a bad view on women because of how he's brought me up and this is one reason I'm making this story. I plan on going into all of the things I went through and my feelings about myself. Still, I wasn't sure how to end it like I said I guess because I still don't have a final diagnosis. In fact, I've been diagnosed with both Gender Identity and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I'd wait to write the story until I have a final diagnosis but to be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever have a full answer to what I am. Plus, I really didn't want this story to be 100% non-fiction because when I tried writing it 100% accurately it was really hard to write and the story goes over a seven-year time period so I can't remember everything that happened 100% accurately. The gist of the story is how the MC meets their first and only friend but ultimately loses them due to jealousy and insecurity with themselves.

Miketom - You are correct that feeling inferior as a woman is not enough to warrant wanting to be a man. However, the MC in my story still has all the issues of a transgender. They feel like they are in the wrong body, dress as a man (or at least want to). Use the men's restroom, and feels like they were "cheated" out of being the gender they were "supposed" to be. Other things as well, but if I listed everything the character does here we'd be here all day lol.

I think you both have a good point though. I should probably stick with conclusion number 1. I don't want to offend anybody. I'd just like to get my experience as someone with both Asperger's and Gender Identity out there.

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Re: What would you do?

Postby RobTheThird » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:23 am

Criticism on something personal, derived from real people, is always a touchy subject. I try to approach this as a reader, who may or may not know the "reality" of story elements. But I also want to be sensitive to how such criticism can be taken personally.

So with that caveat, let me say the general principle: Every idea is terrible... until someone does it well.

You have to let the story tell itself. Maybe option 2 makes sense for that story and that character. I would strongly suggest that you think about the story, and let it decide the "proper" outcome. Yes, people may take offense, or protest.

But, consider: When a patient appeals for gender reassignment, every doctor that I've read (not many, admittedly) includes that the character take on the "destination" gender for at least a year before surgery. Why do you think that is? Is it merely to get ready to live life as a man or woman before the surgery makes that (effectively) permanent? Not from what I've heard. Or, rather, not only for that. There are conditions (like dysmorphia for one example) that can make one feel "wrong" in one's gender, when it is, in fact, a self-perception issue. This prerequisite might help such people realize that it's not gender driving what they feel.

You *can* go against the proverbial grain. You *can* write a good book that makes people angry. Ask Salman Rushdie. Heck, ask JK Rowling. We live in a world that bans Tom Sawyer for depicting slavery as it does. You cannot avoid offending people. Not on subjects like gender identity.

So I say don't worry about who you may or may not offend. Think about what it's been like for you, being told to be something you don't think you are, to fit into an identity that may be wrong for you. Do you want to do that to your characters, to your story?

People are going to think what they think. Do what's right for your characters and for the story.

I'll finish with a fictional example. The movie Captain America: Civil War. In that movie, Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, is in a room talking to two other heroes. Vision and Hawkeye. Hawkeye convinces her not to submit to an "enhanced people" registry and be subject to UN authority. Vision tries to stop her. As she acts to get away, he warns her that people will fear her more.

She replies, "I cannot control other people's fears. Only my own."

Exactly. You cannot control what people will think and say about your story. You can only make the story as good as can be.

Let the story be what it needs to be.

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Re: What would you do?

Postby ostarella » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:06 am

Agree with Rob as to the fear of offending. My first thought was the second ending was too "twisty" if it came out of the blue - not exactly a deus ex machina but similar. After reading your second post, I would have little to no problem with the second ending because the story would actually contain (or focus on?) the uncertainties of the main character.

As to offending people, I think we need to be mindful of the effect our stories have on others, but we should not write so as not to be offensive (tends to dull reading). We do need to make sure we are not, even implicitly, re-enforcing misinformation or false stereotypes. In this case, that second ending could re-enforce that being trans is a choice, and not biological (much like being gay), and that falsehood would be offensive. But with the additional info that the MC's uncertainty was dealt with over the entire story - it's not only accurate but honest. Thus, anyone being offended by it is through no fault of the author.
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kris0707
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Re: What would you do?

Postby kris0707 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:59 pm

RobTheThird - I had never heard that principle before, but it's very interesting. I'm currently seeing my first counselor who specializes in gender reassignment surgery and she had just brought up the whole dressing up as the opposite gender for a while. I agree it isn't just to get ready to live life as the opposite gender but to also be sure it's what you really want. I'm currently trying to decide myself. Something I'll be including in my story is I come from a religious family so it can be tough going through with all of this and getting judged by them and the whole fear of acceptance. You mention dysmorphia and what I have is considered gender dysphoria which is where a person feels "wrong" in the body they were born in. The other condition I brought up - Body Dysmorphic is very much a self-perception issue and has been compared to eating disorders like anorexia. The reason is when you look in the mirror you see yourself as disfigured or "unsightly" when there's really nothing wrong with you at all. I was thinking the MC could have misread what she had as gender identity when it was really Body Dysmorphia all along. I don't know if it makes sense how the MC could get the two confused, but I plan to go into that in the story if I do go with the second ending. I agree with what you said though about people thinking what they want to think. This is a very touchy subject to write about. Thanks so much for your response.

Ostarella - Yeah, I think on this subject it's hard not to offend somebody in all honesty. Thanks for letting me know that. If I do go with the second ending I'll be sure to include the struggles the MC has with questioning themselves on everything then.

I would love for my story to be able to help someone going through anything similar to what I'm going through just because it is so difficult and confusing figuring out if gender reassignment is right for you especially if said person really has Body Dysmorphic. It's supposedly so rare to have both gender identity and body dysmorphic so I keep hoping to figure out if I actually have one over the other because that's usually the case. I've heard such horror stories about people getting surgery and then changing their minds and I'd love if my book could help someone with deciding if it's really for them or not. Still, I don't want to give the message that being transgender is a choice because I definitely don't believe that it is.


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