An Author's Guide to Supporting Transgender Individuals Through Inclusive Storytelling - Mo Fanning Author

An Author’s Guide to Supporting Transgender Individuals Through Inclusive Storytelling

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As authors, our words can create change, foster empathy, and inspire understanding. Even if we don’t have a vast platform, what we write, say, and act matter. Transgender people face unique challenges, and educating ourselves to understand these experiences better helps create content that breaks down barriers and facilitates acceptance.

Educate Yourself

The first step to becoming an ally is to educate yourself about the transgender community, its history, and its unique challenges. This knowledge will provide the tools to create more accurate and sensitive portrayals of trans characters in your work. Some resources to begin your education include:Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein

  • Books like “Gender Outlaw” by Kate Bornstein, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves” by Laura Erickson-Schroth, and “Transgender History” by Susan Stryker
  • Websites such as TransActional, and GLAAD
  • Social media accounts and blogs by trans activists and organisations

Listen to Trans Voices

To create authentic and respectful portrayals of trans people, listening to their experiences and perspectives is essential. This can be done by:

  • Following trans authors, bloggers, and activists on social media
  • Reading memoirs and essays written by trans individuals
  • Attending workshops, conferences, and events that feature trans speakers and panellists
  • Engaging in conversations with trans people in your personal and professional networks

Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language is crucial for making your writing accessible and supporting trans individuals. Some key points to keep in mind include the following:

  • Using “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring to someone whose gender is unknown or unspecified
  • Respecting and using a person’s chosen name and pronouns, even if they differ from their legal name or the pronouns they were assigned at birth
  • Avoiding gendered language that reinforces stereotypes, such as “fireman” or “chairman,” and opting for neutral terms like “firefighter” or “chair”

Create Authentic, Multi-Dimensional Trans Characters

When crafting trans characters, avoid relying on stereotypes or tokenism. Instead, strive for well-developed, multi-dimensional characters with motivations, goals, and personalities. Some tips for creating authentic trans characters include:

  • Avoiding common tropes such as the “tragic trans character” or the “deceptive trans character”
  • Ensuring that being transgender is not the character’s only defining characteristic
  • Depicting the character’s gender transition as one aspect of their life, rather than the sole focus of their narrative
  • Showing the character experiencing the full range of human emotions, challenges, and victories

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Consult Sensitivity Readers

Sensitivity readers are individuals with personal experience or expertise in a specific topic who can provide feedback on how accurately and respectfully that topic is portrayed in a manuscript. Hiring a trans sensitivity reader can help you identify potential issues or biases in portraying trans characters and experiences. They can also provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

Support Trans Authors and Artists

As an ally, you can also use your platform to amplify the voices of trans authors and artists. Share their work on your social media channels, recommend their books to your readers, and collaborate with them on projects. Doing this, you help create more visibility and opportunities for trans creatives.

Advocate for Trans Rights

Finally, use your influence as an author to advocate for the rights and dignity of trans people. This can be done by:

  • Speaking up against discriminatory policies and practices that affect the trans community, such as anti-trans legislation or healthcare discrimination
  • Raising awareness about the unique challenges faced by trans people, including high rates of violence, mental health struggles, and barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare
  • Supporting organisations and initiatives that work to improve the lives of trans individuals
  • Encouraging your readers to learn more about trans issues and become allies themselves

Becoming an ally for trans people as an author involves a multifaceted approach, mostly about educating yourself. Authors have a platform to foster understanding, promote empathy, and contribute to a more inclusive and just world for all. Remember, your words can create change; wield them responsibly and compassionately.

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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