I want to welcome you all here today and give a big thank you for stopping by on the first day of RGR’s Trans Aware Event. I would also like to give a huge THANK YOU to Z. Allora for taking time out of her schedule to join RGR and talk about writing a transgender romance. Lets all give a warm welcome to Z. Allora and heartfelt gratitude for kicking things off for this event.
Pitfalls of writing a transgender romance…
There are too many to list but some that make my personal terror list: reinforcing negative stereotypes, sexualizing the characters, skating over issues, thinking you’re putting one thing on the page but someone reads your words with their filters and gets something entirely different, doing harm, and basically getting it wrong… It’s enough to keep me up at night, but not enough for me not to write characters who happen to be transgender.
Let’s start with things you probably already know:
*Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to (pointing to my heart).
*Gender identity is who YOU go to bed AS (pointing to my head).
*People who are transgender can be heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, and any other way someone wants to label their orientation.
*There is no one way to be transgender. Just like with any other stripe of the rainbow, the T of LGBTQIA+ has many variations within it. People are unique.
*The transgender stripe of the rainbow serves as an umbrella term for folks who do not identify exclusively as male or female this includes (but is not limited to) folks who are transgender, gender variant, genderfluid, gender queer, bigender, pangender and agender.
Since gender identity is in your head, everyone is starting at a different place. Some people who are transgender want to transition. Transition is changing your presentation &/or your body to more closely match their gender identity. This can vary greatly. Some people may need to have affirmation surgery (top surgery=chest area changes and/or bottom surgery=below the belt changes), and/or hormone therapy. Some people don’t want/need that while some people simply cannot do that for health, financial or other reasons. Some people only wish to change their dress and hair. Some don’t change anything. The extent the person decides to transition does not in any way relate to how “trans” they are.
I am gender queer of the transmasculine variety. For me, this means I present as female but in my head, I’m more male. Although I don’t have the body dysphoria (meaning I don’t struggle in my own skin or feel the need to change anything about my body) and in my case, that’s partly because I’m nonbinary (meaning I don’t adhere to what society considers male and female although I understand the lines all too well).
So, I’m able to present as society expects a person assigned female at birth is “supposed” to look without harming the boy in my head. Not everyone has that luxury >>> Everyone’s journey is unique to them. This can make it uncomfortable at times for me to claim the transgender stripe of the rainbow, but visibility is important.
One of the reasons I publish is I want to share the validation all variations within each stripe of the rainbow desire… but I write SLLLLOOOOOWWWWLLLLLLY. (It frustrates the hell out of me trust me!) Thus far, I have published three characters who happened to be on the T stripe of the rainbow that also label themselves as such.
I want to share an excerpt from Secured and Free which is Orion, Marcus & Hunter’s story. Quillon & Xander are secondary characters. We are in Hunter’s point of view. The scene takes place at Entwined (a BDSM club). Xander is Orion’s best friend. Orion is pushing Xander to speak to his crush Quillon. Hunter’s a Dom who is witnessing their interaction.
Orion answered, “Xander would love to chat with you.”
Quillon stood slowly, and some of his confidence drained away. “You know I’m trans, right?”
Xander shrugged. “I’m pan.”
Folding his arms, Quillon glared. “Why did you say that? To let me know that you’re still interested even if I’m not a real guy?”
“Um, no. I thought we were sharing who we were.” Xander ducked his head and muttered, “I know some guys have issues with me being pansexual, so I figured I’d share that upfront.”
Quillon studied Xander. “Why’d you shrug?”
“I don’t know. I do it a lot.” Xander shrugged again.
Xander pushed away from the table and stood. In anyone else, the slow measured movements might have appeared aggressive, but Xander’s longing glances toward the nearest exit eliminated that interpretation. “Look, maybe this is a bad idea.”
Hunter rooted for Quillon to salvage the opportunity, but he better get to it.
“Nah, man, my bad. I’ve got a hair trigger on certain things.” Quillon put his left hand in his back pocket. “I’m sorry I assumed.”
“It’s okay. I get it.” Xander’s quiet voice broke a little.
“I’d like to get to know you.” Quillon ran his fingers along Xander’s forearm.
Orion cleared his throat. When he had Xander’s attention, he nodded.
Quillon quirked his lips and asked, “So, um, pan. What type of flute do you play?”
“Ha-ha. Can I say all of them?” Xander’s words were strained, but a chuckle snuck out. “No, pansexual…. I have a kitchen fetish.”
Quillon snorted and rolled with the joke as he led Xander away, asking, “Does it include all kitchenware or just pans?”
Quillon’s concern is a valid, and here I paired him with a person who happens to be pansexual. WHY THE HELL WOULD I DO THAT? It’s a twisted path but follow me. I’m going to blame it on Jake O’Neil.
My character Jake O’Neil from Illusions & Dreams is responsible for this Xander/Quillon pairing. Jake is a wild and sexually expressive bad boy who happens to be pansexual. Xander is pansexual but very much Jake’s opposite.
Jake’s pansexual and I paired him with my adorable but VERY kinky Boon-nam. They were paired for what they each wanted out of life, sex and love not based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. She happens to be a transwoman.
Clearly, my own kinky filter I view the world through affected why Jake and Boon-nam were paired. Boon-nam craved someone who could keep up with her desire to explore the kinky side of sex and Jake needed someone who was his equal in bed as well as in life. Bad boy Jake is sexy Boon-nam’s match. Unfortunately, this could be seen as me reinforcing the idea only someone who is pansexual would find a trans person attractive >>>> which was NEVER my intent and is truly incorrect!
SIDE NOTE: You can also ask me why the hell would I make Boon-nam kinky when that walks a fine line of sexualizing? (My editors did) But here’s the thing some trans people are kinky, and that’s okay. Boon-nam gives her best friend Lalana vapors over her “non-ladylike” desires and behavior… However, I think it’s important (even being at the risk of being accused of sexualizing) to represent a trans people who embraced their sexuality without shame just like anyone else. I hope I struck the right balance in Illusions & Dreams. BTW: I also don’t fade to black during the sex scenes nor did I sugar coat some of the complications that can go along with affirmation surgeries.
Back to Xander. We first meet him in Lock and Key. He was just so damned sweet and protective of Orion. I explored who he was and found out some amazing things. He wasn’t Orion’s love interest and I discovered he was pansexual though the exact opposite of Jake.
Around the same time, I talked to someone who was pansexual in my PFLAG. We discussed how people’s perceptions of what pansexuality was and how it impacted their life.
Ah Ha! (insert mental image of Z. jumping up and down) I was thrilled I could now show a character who was pansexual but wasn’t wild like Jake (who literally fucked a hole in the wall at a party…). Double happy dance!
I discovered more of my character’s history, and found out Xander had a crush on someone… and Quillon appeared and DAMN! The notes on the scenes I have between the two make me very excited to write their story.
But OH SHIT! I did it again. I paired someone who is transgender with someone who is pansexual again! ARGH!!!!
Of course, I don’t think that’s the only orientation that would be attracted to someone who is transgender… But my damn kinky filter and slow writing makes it appear this way. (Granted I could simply change the orientation of Xander, but I’m one of those authors who can’t be dishonest about who the characters are…)
Though I trust most people know it is just happenstance that two of my pansexual characters fell for characters who happened to be transgender based on their kinkiness. It’s not a statement beyond my own BDSM filter.
And while I’m here explaining myself: When Illusions & Dreams was submitted several years ago the publishing house had very different criteria for their transgender books. They decided to keep Illusions & Dreams on their bookshelf even though it no longer quite fit their criteria. I am very appreciative of that fact.
While there are pitfalls when writing characters, who happen to be transgender I’d encourage everyone to write who your muse gives you. I’d invite readers to go out of their comfort zones and reach for some books that include characters who happen to be transgender.
An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues.
Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet he can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level.
But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?
Find Dana and Wendy’s review of Secured and Free here: ‘Secured and Free’
Randy Camster failed at being married. His life now centers around work, TV sports, and listening to his friend Jake complain about how Randy’s lack of a sex life will be the downfall of mankind. Not true! Well, not totally. He’s just never understood the fascination with sex until… ladyboy performer Lalana Dulyarat shimmies into his world via an Internet ad for Thailand tourism.
Jake O’Neil’s open pansexuality yields him interesting bedmates, but he’s never chased after the mythical illusion of love. He focuses on others, like his best friend Randy, who needs a Bang-Cock vacation. Finding an adorable little imp named Boon-nam wasn’t on the itinerary. Gay, straight, and undecided, Jake has had ‘em all, but never a virgin aching to take a walk on the kinky side after having her affirmation surgery. Talk about pressure. And what’s with everyone warning him not to break her heart? His is the one in danger.
Find Bethany’s review for ‘Illusions & Dreams’ here: ‘Illusions & Dreams’
So, I’d like to offer 3 e-books of Illusions & Dreams and 1 e-book of Secured and Free. The giveaway ends on August 27th at 11:59. To enter please tell us if you’ve read any characters who are transgender, and what struck you the most about them.
Many hugs, Z. Allora
Z. Allora believes in happily ever afters for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel and China. Now back home to the USA she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.
To contact Z. Allora:
FACEBOOK: Z Allora Allora