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Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week & Trans Fiction Week #TransFictionWeek #TransAwarenessWeek

 

Happy Transgender Awareness Week 2016!

  transgender-pride-flag-1-helms   transgender-pride-flag-2-pellinen

 

This year, Trans Awareness Week has been on from this past Monday (November 14) and goes to Sunday, November 20. To celebrate and put trans and non-binary identities up front and centre, the Trans Fiction Week initiative has been sharing posts all week. Or, as TFW puts it more eloquently:

“Transgender and non-binary people are enormously under-represented in media, including in the LGBT fiction world, and yet we have so many amazing stories to be told. So for one week, we are going to be focusing on transgender and non-binary voices, perspectives, and characters as told by the people writing, reading, working and creating queer stories.”

 

Today, my piece for Trans Fiction Week goes live on their site.

The post gets personal. I might be cisgender, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get what my transgender peers are feeling. (Note: being an empath helps. Mix with that my deep-rooted need to understand what makes people do what they do and you get this thing I’m used to.)

It also doesn’t mean the discrimination and exclusion of people who are transgender or non-binary doesn’t piss me off. Because it does. So bad. Discrimination as a whole pisses me off.

So I wrote a post.

It talks more about my approach to characters in my work who are transgender or non-binary and touches on why the issue of transgender representation in literature is important to me. As the Depeche Mode song goes: “People are people”, and that’s how I see everyone. All just people doing their thing, trying to get from point A to point Z the best way they know how while trying to be who they are. And I’m cool with that.

What I’m not cool with is “They’re not like me so f*#k ’em” or “They’re different so let’s exclude them”. I know exactly what it’s like being excluded because I’m different for one reason or another. Because I don’t fit someone’s box of what they think is acceptable. And being scared (or even terrified) of being yourself? Did it. Done it. In certain situations, I still am. I’ve been harassed for no other reason than I didn’t “fit” in the popular group or majority. I know how shitty it is to treat people like they don’t belong, and if it’s over gender or sexuality or anything like that, don’t even get me started.

So I wrote the post.

Being non-binary and transgender is an in-my-own-household sort of personal. We live it around here. Especially this year: my partner has been moving forward with embracing the non-binary part of herself* rather than staying confined to cis, and I couldn’t be prouder. Just because society says there are two boxes doesn’t mean you have to be in either of them. I’m not about to deny my partner or our friends the right to be themselves. (* This pronoun isn’t a mistake; it’s what she’s going by. Though it doesn’t negate that she really appreciates an “Other” box when asked for gender.)

If you’re interested in reading the article, it’s over here. But as an added bonus here on my blog, below are bits about the three characters I’ve touched on in that post annnnnnd an excerpt from Blood Borne, coming out in 2017.

 

Tracel
in Rule Breaker (The Republic #0.5) {in Won’t Back Down anthology}

While Gren might be the main character in RB, Tracel is very much a hero in her own right: she stands up to Allon and makes quick decisions to save who she can. She’s a healer who has had her share of disappointments when it comes to romantic relationships. Assigned male at birth, she identifies as female and really wants to do away with the uncomfortable male bits, but can’t due to medical complications and possible death (their world is very much in the vein of medicine from our 16th to 19th centuries). But she doesn’t let that stop her from being who she is.

This isn’t the last appearance of Tracel in this series, however. Mortal Coils (book #7) revisits Tracel and Gren’s relationship as it moves forward. In that installment, Tracel will also make an important decision about aligning her physical self to how she really feels, thanks to a new friendship she’s formed with someone who understands what it’s like to be in that situation. (Seriously, I’m jazzed about that, because Kessan is going to be so much fun to write. He’s fun-loving, gothic, in a polyamorous triad and… spoilers.)

 

Adren
in Blood Borne (The Republic #3)

Like most of the characters in the series, Adren is complicated and has problems. In BB, cir actions and decisions play directly into what happens in the rest of the series. In terms of identity, Adren is best described as a bigender-genderqueer-non-binary-transgender heteoromantic allosexual. In short: Adren is neither female nor male but both, each with their own presentation and feels. Chosen pronouns are “ce” and “cir”, though trying to get family and colleagues to use those terms is frustrating, especially since most of those colleagues don’t respect cir.

Although Adren’s relationship to Ress is antagonistic in the beginning, Adren’s not a bad person. At all. Ce’s got a good heart and an amazing set of abilities. But ce’s been raised in a family that’s not so good. With their family comes responsibility… and a desperate need to avoid jail. Basically, think of a really nasty mafia. What do you do when your dad’s a mafia BOSS? When your brothers love being in the mafia? As much as ce wants out, Adren can’t just up and leave. Not with this gang. Not when they’re the only family ce has. So Adren gets stuck in positions ce’d rather not be in because ce loves them. It’s the only life ce knows.

Things with Ress, though, have interesting implications. Even better: he gets cir. Not completely, but enough to accept Adren as ce is and move on from there. Love wins big in this one.

For more about Adren, check out the excerpt below.

 

Elly Satuura
in Heart, Lace, and Soul {in Enchanted Soles anthology}

Elly is another professional in the medical industry, but her world is one of high-end technology, science, and magic. Within that world, she’s been at her job for a while, has already been married and divorced, and is moving on to the first romantic relationship she’s had in a long time. But she worries. Hard. She identifies as a transgender bisexual and has gone through gender alignment surgery… with the help of her now ex-wife, who was fine with all of it but their relationship still fell apart. When she realizes the possibility of having something with Vadrick, she worries how her gender will affect the relationship. (Spoiler: It doesn’t bother him one bit. It’s all good news.)

 

~~~

And now for an excerpt from Blood Borne (coming in 2017)

Author’s note: Blood Borne is a queer, HEA, enemies-to-lovers, high fantasy romance featuring two characters living in really messed-up situations. There aren’t any fluffy unicorns here. They also aren’t villains. More than anything, they’re heroes-in-training, whose bravery starts with small actions but has big potential. Themes of the book include sacrifice, family, freedom, making difficult choices in the face of lethal adversity, and doing what good is possible in a bad situation.

~~~

 

Guilt struck Adren’s gut. The accusation was wrong the moment the words floated through cir mind. Maliciousness had never been easy for cir, no matter the circumstances. It was why ce never went on hunts with the Shar-denn packs or joined the reconditioning of wayward members. From an early age, cir father had realized cir value existed in other efforts to take control from the High Council.

Ce was a bleeding heart, an ugly fact ce tried to hide from the rest of the gang, disguising it like everything else ce was.

And now my heart’s bleeding all over this rug. Just can’t help itself, can it? Even when I’m screaming inside, telling it to stop being such a damn traitor. Adren frowned at the rug peeking out from beneath the hem of cir white dress. Although ce tried not to care, ce felt bad about the lapsed marriage between Inesta and Ress. There was no reason to be sympathetic, but sorrow clung to cir emotions, digging its claws in further the more ce tried to shake it off. Even worse, ce was at a loss for words, not that ce had the right to say anything at all. Not when ce had never been in a romantic relationship, let alone any attachments outside of family. No one knew what to make of cir—and no one could when cir father ensured no one got close enough to try. Not that anyone wanted to. There was enough about Adren to ward off the most brazen and courageous men, and that was without knowing the truth of what ce was.

Forget me. What in the name of the Four are you? Adren glared at Ress, watching him scrub the floor. Do something—anything—that’ll take this feeling away. I despise you with the fury of a thousand suns; I want you to be miserable. Do something that makes me so mad I can’t help but kill you. Because what I’m feeling… it can’t happen. I can’t feel sorry for you. I have to smother you in your sleep and steal your stuff. I have to look you in the eye and slice open your entrails then sell them to the faction. So do something, you sneaky, docile bastard!

If ever ce needed to be someone other than cirself, it was now. Ce needed to be cir father’s child, everything the Shar-den wanted. Failure was not acceptable.

And seeing a mark as anything close to human was begging for a slow death.

“I’m going for a walk,” Adren announced before swallowing the disgust leaving an acidic taste on cir tongue. To sit there any longer and delay the meeting with cir father’s men was dangerous. Ce would not believe Ress was as nice as he acted, nor could ce waste time wondering about him. Nothing had changed since cir arrival in Araveena Ford. Not the intention, not the motivation, not the required end. No rogue emotions or unwelcome thoughts could deter what needed to happen.

Ress lifted his head, appearing dazed. “Sure.” He glanced at the kitchen window, the sunlight illuminating his scarred jaw. “Sounds like a good idea, being a nice day and all. I can come with… if you want?”

Why? Adren nearly spat out, biting back the harsh tone. Ce needed to lull him into trusting cir, not keep snapping at him, no matter how good it felt. “Maybe not this time. I need to be alone to think, but thanks.”

“Oh.” Ress’s gaze fell, disappointment splayed across his face. “I should be here when you get back. Then we can figure out this dinner thing. Ines always—” His face reddened and he resumed scrubbing the floor, shifting his weight to and from his injured knee.

“Sure,” Adren muttered, confused by his embarrassment. His reactions made no sense.

With one look at the settee, Adren considered discarding the blanket draped around cir but decided against it. The contrast of black on cir white dress spoke to how ce felt right then—a blending of everything ce was inside, soft and stark all at the same time.

Ce toyed with the rings on the chain around cir neck, tempted to put them on cir fingers. The cold metal clamping cir skin would push back the part of cir that wanted to bathe in the silken caress of flower petals, balancing the delicate connection between appearance and inner self. The urge was no different than what ce had felt earlier that morning, binding cir chest before dressing.

Have you even noticed the difference? Adren’s face warmed as ce forced cirself to leave the house. What did it matter if Ress noticed what ce did or did not do? If anything, ce needed him not to care. Enough people revealed their opinions about what ce did to feel like cirself. The last thing ce needed was someone new chastising cir for not being like everyone else, fulfilling the supposed rules of who ce ought to be.

One of the only good things about being on my own: no one’s telling me I’m wrong. No one’s insisting on calling me by my other name and ignoring the one I chose like it’s something to be ashamed of. I can be me.

Tightening the blanket around cir shoulders, Adren approached the road and turned left, heading towards the river ce had followed to Araveena Ford after fleeing Elsove Hillock twenty days ago. Ce wanted the freedom to be who ce was without explaining or justifying the whys and how of something ce did not understand. Some days, ce woke up feeling like a woman, overcome with the desire to touch beauty, an insatiable need to float on the breeze like the gentlest fabric, and undeniable want for sweet scents. But sometimes, even within the same day, ce felt like a man, taking comfort in unfeeling, lifeless metal, with a craving for spices that could cleanse cir spirit with their potency, and the urge to dig cir fingers into the earth to soak up its heat.

Other days, ce felt the essence of both, a curious tug-and-pull that found equilibrium, allowing cir to dream in the comfort of feeling whole. Ce was all of it at once, all of the time, unable to pick one over the other for too long. Both and neither, ce was caught in the middle of wishing for parts ce did not have and reveling in who ce was.

The presence of other people only complicated matters further. How ce dressed, cir choice to be called Adren instead of Eradrene, how ce acted—all of it was about showing who ce really was rather than hide. The freedom from being on cir own made existing less of a hassle.

Except freedom came at a price ce could not afford.

Adren’s face heated with the depth of cir rage. How dare Ress betray their family and the Shar-denn. They had entrusted him with secrets and given him the means to have influence within the ranks. They had protected his family and taken him back after the High Council arrested him. Barring the fact no one wanted to attack him should he retaliate with weapons they knew nothing about, the Shar-denn not only let him live, they allowed him to continue working. How could he have turned in a faction boss? What else had he done and what were his intentions? Was it a matter of saving himself or was he trying to dismantle the Shar-denn, one betrayed member at a time?

His reasons were irrelevant, Adren decided. A cold breeze swept down the dirt road from behind cir as ce turned onto a flat, well-trodden path descending to the river, a shortcut to the ruins of an old bridge. At midpoint, thick brush surrounded the path, the twigs of dark, half-bare brambly bushes spilling into the leaf-littered pathway. Long, drooping tree limbs weighted with orange and yellow-black leaves formed an arbour above, riddled with holes that let sunshine through. Purple-winged silverbirds hopped branches, twittering upbeat songs as their outstretched feathers dislodged wilting leaves that swayed to the dry red earth. Past the birdsong was the gurgle of fast-moving water flowing over rocks.

Laughter and loud whoops of excitement flashed through cir thoughts, dancing around fragments of bright, vivid colours moving quickly. Giddy with anticipation dragged up by memory, Adren stroked the wilting leaves of the bushes and surrendered cir worries to a lazy smile. If ce immersed cirself in the recollections, ce could almost feel cir brothers whoosh by cir as they used to as children whenever they cut through the brush on the way to the pond near their home. Merasha had taught all three of them how to swim, insisting that any skill was a skill worth having, even if they never set foot on a ship or fell into a river. More than once, she had accompanied Adren, Mordane, and Tethe on their youthful excursions to the pond, teaching them how appreciate life and each other. While Merasha had preferred to bask in the sun at the edge of the pond as they splashed and played in the water, her presence was always felt, each water drop reminding Adren of the moments with cir mother. Not only had Merasha taught them to tread water and keep their heads high, she had taught them control. She had given them confidence and mastery over an adversary.

In those same lessons, she had showered them with the steadfast love of a mother, captured in every breath they struggled to take and the tender embraces that rewarded them. Her calm, soothing voice fluttered around Adren’s thoughts on small wings of memory, reminding cir to hold onto what hurt inside. Ce could not forget who ce was fighting for; ce had to let the pain drive cir. Pain means something’s wrong, Merasha had said often, and that wrong has to be put right before there is peace. No matter what it takes, no matter the sacrifice, we do what we have to do to make that peace. There is no running away, just pushing forward.

Even if it killed the soul in the process.

 

 

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