Penny’s Worth of Thoughts: Transgendered Characters

Penny’s Worth of Thoughts: Transgendered Characters

Written by Jerred “Jack” Fournier

I am going to start with the cliff notes answer, so you can decide upfront if you want to be upset with me. A person’s race, choice in partners or their sexual identity in a story doesn’t matter, for most of us. Unless you are a member of that group who are attacked for being part of that minority, it doesn’t matter. Get over it.

Longer explanation: In My Hero Academia it introduced two characters around Season 3 that were transgendered. For the story and for most of the things the characters did, it made no difference. It was only really brought up in how some of the characters were addressed, and the little bit of backstory they were given. That is it.

As a writer, I personally try not to make those facets of a character a commonly brought up thing, unless it is important to the story or part of the characters drives. Their preferences may be mentioned once and are usually in passing. It doesn’t have a chapter devoted to the reveal or the character isn’t publicized as that way. That is how I feel it should be addressed.

Now not every writer needs to follow that rule. Not by a long shot. If they feel a character has to be vocal about it, or they feel that the character’s story is shaded from their experience in that group. Go for it. I draw the line when characters are suddenly revealed to be a minority group for no real reason. One big example is Soldier 76 in Overwatch when Blizzard got in hot water for something.

What is starting this post of mine is that it is revealed that Marvel is in the talks about having a transgendered hero. If they are going to change a character or create one, I do not know. However, the short answer to this is, I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me and most likely will not affect how good the movie will be. All it will change is the way the movie is publicized and how people are going to complain about it.

The short answer if you feel that you need to complain about something ultimately trivial in a story, then you need to look at your own priorities. Something may be off about you.

Long answer: Reread the short answer 15 times.

Now on a social level, I am glad about this. I have several friends who are transitioning. Not a secret that I support them as they go through what can a very trying time in their life. One of them is an awesome singer who was able to keep singing even as their voice changed during hormone treatment. Making him probably one of the most awesome people I have ever met.

Now I said I support them. I am not only a shoulder for when they need to vent too, but I have also had to set more than one person straight when they decided it was okay to harass them. With that in mind, having someone to represent that group in the public eye and entertainment might help them feel more accepted.

This comes from my own experience on this part. I am not transgendered, so my thoughts and feelings do not represent them. I am going to talk about the feeling of not being accepted and the self-hate. A lot of it comes from my time in the Navy. So buckle up.

When I was in the Navy, I was and currently am, a heavyset guy. I barely made the weigh-ins for the Navy. Was even the reason I was separated early. Now before you judge me, remember that I could pass every fitness test except the weigh-in. So because of my gut, I was considered a substandard sailor.

If it was just performance evals, I could handle that. It was more than that. I was talked about and turned away every time I asked for help. When someone said to me, “I’ve got your back,” it felt like they were just in a position to put the knife there. It wears on you and I became detached from everything. Feeling anything meant I had to feel the pain and loneliness that was there.

During that time I was stuck in a paradox. If I didn’t work out, I was mocked as too lazy and no drive to improve. If I tried I was mocked for not already being perfect. No matter how I tried or pushed myself, in a small crew of 300. I felt like I was a pariah. No matter how good I got at my job. No matter what I achieved. The crew looked at me with disdain because of my gut.

Now some of it may have been created in my head. That is what that seed of self-hate does. As toxic people bury into you they make it hard to see the good people just trying to help you. You assume they are just positioning themselves to plant the knife.

All of that is the point of the representation. My story may not line up with what some people go through. Having a role model in the public eye. Someone who is able to keep fighting when you are having a hard time finding your feet can help you fight your way out of that. Giving you something to strive for.

So I ask you again. What problem do you really have with a character being a little different?