Here’s something I missed because I have been busy with other stuff. Mark Charan Newton has blogged about his latest novel, The Book of Transformations [buy isbn=”9780230750067″], and I can now note that he asked for my help in writing it. Not, of course, that I know much about writing fiction, but Mark wanted to include a trans woman as a character, and he came to me for a bit of advice.
I haven’t been heavily involved in the creation of the book. Mark just sent me a couple of extracts in which the thoughts and behavior of the trans character, Lan, are foregrounded. I made some comments, which he mostly accepted. Hopefully between us we have made Lan a more realistic character (I hesitate to say “believable” because so many people have difficult believing anything that trans people say about themselves.)
I’m pretty sure that Mark is going to get denounced by someone in trans activism. There are simply far too many ways in which people can be trans. Lan is the sort of person who would normally be described as a transsexual, and there are some trans activists who take the hard-line feminist attitude that all such people are self-deluded, brainwashed by doctors, or lying. You really can’t win this game.
What is important, however, is that Mark has chosen to put a trans woman in his book, not because she is trans, but because she happens to be one of the heroes of the story. And he has done his best to try to treat that character respectfully. Furthermore, his editor at Tor UK didn’t insist that he drop her for the sake of sales. This is all very positive, and I’m proud to have played a small part in making it happen.
By the way, I haven’t forgotten that I promised you a review of a book that gets a trans character badly wrong. I’ve just been too busy to finish it, and it does have to be done right.