The Transgender Day of Visibility occurred this past Sunday. For anyone who doesn’t know or isn’t sure, transgender means “not the gender assigned at birth.” Some folks realize that they are a woman despite being assigned male at birth and vice versa, and take steps to express themselves and own themselves as the gender they are. They are transgender. And some folks identify as neither gender, or perhaps as a mix, but they are neither male nor female. These folks sometimes call themselves nonbinary, as in they identify as outside the gender binary of male/female. Some other ways of referring to them are genderfluid or genderqueer.
It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around, especially for those of us who are cisgender (that is, we identify as the gender we were assigned at birth). I’ve had a firsthand education in trans/nonbinary issues because my 23-year old is nonbinary. Nathan came out to my husband Michael and me a couple years ago, very matter-of-factly, saying “I’m not a man or a woman. I’m nonbinary.” They were assigned male at birth and at first they went easy on us in the matter of pronouns and said it was okay to refer to them as “he/him.” But as time went on it became important to them to not be referred to as “him” because they are not male. It’s still hard not to slip and call them “he” or “my son” instead of “they” and my… kid? Offspring? Progeny? I always correct myself and they are forgiving of my lapses.
So although the language can get awkward and takes some getting used to, I find that Nathan being nonbinary fits them so well. I remember Nathan as being pretty equal in “masculine” and “feminine” traits growing up. There was a softness and sweetness to them, and still is, that made them friends with everyone. There were never barriers between them and folks of either gender. They were always their own person and really didn’t have a concern what others thought when they marched off to middle school wearing eyeliner. Yet they were decidedly “straight,” as in attracted to girls.
And that’s another thing I had to learn. Gender (or the lack of it) has nothing to do with sexual preferences. Straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual… all of that is a separate conversation from one’s gender identification.
It’s a lot to take in. But as I said on Facebook, I love my nonbinary kid, their nonbinary partner Lily, and all of their friends, some of whom are cis but many of whom are trans, genderfluid, or nonbinary. I love their freedom of expression. Nathan tickles me when they leave the house wearing a skirt over fishnet stockings and combat boots, a touch of eyeliner, and a jeans jacket. They continue to teach me that life needn’t be confined to a box of two genders, tied to some physical characteristics at birth. There are so many colors in the rainbow and they and all trans and nonbinary people show me new ones every day.
I am happy to report that my 3rd Stories From The Shore novel has come back to life. This is the one about Miles Elkins, who was a key character in In Over Our Heads as the genderfluid younger sibling of Walter, Anthony Vallen’s long-lost love. Miles is a beguiling character and quite a bit younger than the other Shores MCs, being only 22. I struggled with this novel, with they/them pronouns, with what I wanted the story to be. I finally put it away and wrote The Kinsey Scale and The Player’s Protégé instead. But I got some great feedback from fellow writer Lynn Lorenz on the Miles book and it’s time to show my genderfluid Miles and their sweet cis Jewish guy Chad the light of day. I just joined CampNaNo and aim to have the novel finished and submitted by the end of April.
I have written one other trans character, who is one of my favorite characters ever. Her name is Morocco and she is MC Charlie’s cousin in Sex, Love, and Videogames.
In keeping with the trans/nonbinary theme of this post, I want to feature one of my closest writer friends, Charley Descoteaux, who also goes by Charli Coty. They are genderqueer and have written several books with trans characters. Their Buchanan House Series for Dreamspinner has a trans gal (Alex in Buchanan House and Safe House) and a trans dude (Evan in Tiny House and Holiday Weekend). As Charli Coty, they have written Speedbump and Torque, both of which have trans MCs. Charley’s stories are always real, as are their characters. You don’t find many millionaires and definitely no royalty in their books. But I highly recommend them if you want unusual characters and even more colors of the LGBTQ rainbow in your romances.
That’s it for this month. Take care and talk to you in May.
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work, and her characters are travelers too, traveling into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming-out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intently at her laptop.
CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards. All the Way to Shore was Runner Up for Best Bisexual Novel in the 2017 Rainbow Awards.