Why I included a transgender character in Landing Love by Elizabeth Andre

Today we’re joined by author Elizabeth Andre. She writes lesbian romance, but in her most recent release, she added transgender character. What follows is how she approaches writing a diverse cast, why it’s important, and how to do it the right way.

Why I included a transgender character in Landing Love, Lesbian Light Reads 6 by Elizabeth Andre

allromanceI write romance fiction featuring women meeting, having sex, falling in love and having sex again, and my stories either represent my world or adventures I would like to have. For example, Right Time for Love, Lesbian Light Reads 5, features a love story between two 65-year-old women. I’m not in my 60s, but I do know lesbians that age who are still getting it on or at least would like to. The Time Slip Girl is my novel about an African-American woman traveling back to Edwardian England and falling in love with an English shop girl. I live in Chicago, but that’s an adventure I would love to have.

Despite my longstanding desire to write a transgender character and the fact that transgender people are part of my world, I didn’t include one until Landing Love, Lesbian Light Reads 6, which was published in November. I hate to admit it, but there was something about writing and developing a transgender character that seemed so much more daunting than all of my other characters.

When author Matthew J. Metzger (a transman) wrote a blog as part of Queer Romance Month challenging cisgender authors to get over the fear of getting it wrong, write transgender characters and give them happy endings, I accepted his challenge. He was right. It was time to stop being such a nervous Nellie and expand my literary repertoire, although I decided to start small. Additionally, I wanted to stay true to my series. Lesbian Light Reads is a series of romantic stories with happy endings and minimal angst. The main characters are female at the beginning of the book and the end. They are not cisgender or transgender men, although I would not rule out a male-to-female transgender main character even though I haven’t attempted that yet. My main characters tend to start out as lesbians and end as lesbians. There’s no coming out. The big change in a Lesbian Light Reads story is that the main characters start the story out single and end the story in love.

I have much more leeway, however, with my secondary characters who are occasionally male or even heterosexual, so I decided to give one of my lesbian main characters a female-to-male transgender friend.

In Landing Love, Lila is a recreational figure skater with a broken heart who decides to take a break from dating and go to every ice rink in Chicago. She invites her friends, including Matt, a transman, to join her.

As a former figure skater and Gay Games gold medalist in figure skating, I loved writing about life on the ice and how Lila meets Ashley, another skater. They fall in love, and Ashley teaches Lila how to land an Axel.

And Matt really wasn’t as hard to write as I’d feared.

I applied the same basic rules that I apply to all of my characters who are not like me.

  1. We are not that different. Look for ways that we are the same. Look for what we have in common.
  2. We are different. Identify, respect and celebrate how we are different.

As I wrote the story, I also started to realize how much I liked Matt. I wanted to get to know him better. I wanted to give him more to do in the story than just be Lila’s friend. I thought he deserved a happy ending, too.

So, in Landing Love, not only does Lila fall in love with Ashley, Matt meets Evan, a fellow skater and, like Matt, a fan of tabletop role playing games. I’d love to find out what happens next and whether they will stay together. I might give Matt his own story, although not as part of the Lesbian Light Reads series. Transmen are not lesbians, but they are part of my world. And they will be a bigger part of my writing going forward.


In honor of this blog post, the Lesbian Light Reads Volumes 1-6: Boxed Set is on sale. Usually $9.99, it is reduced to $2.99. Link: myBook.to/llrboxedset

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Elizabeth Andre writes lesbian erotic romance, science fiction and young adult stories. She is a lesbian in an interracial same-sex marriage living in the Midwest. She hopes you enjoy her stories. She certainly loves writing them.

 

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3 thoughts on “Why I included a transgender character in Landing Love by Elizabeth Andre

  1. Bravo for you! I’ve got my own series going where I’ve been dropping different characters from different walks of life into a rural setting. Book 8 will explore the life of my ‘breaking Amish’ lesbian character a little bit more but I was looking for a twist for it and you’ve given me a great idea. I know several transgender people personally but I really hadn’t considered including a transgender person in a story…until now.

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  2. Good for you! As a lesbian, I think I’d have a harder time writing a trans man than a trans woman. I do have a transgender character in my novel, Wishbone. Let’s just say she’s more than a friend to the main character. When I started writing her, I only wanted to throw something big at her brother. It wasn’t till I was well into it that I realized how controversial she might be. I also have absolutely no cred when it comes to trans characters. I just wrote someone I liked and tried to get to know her as deeply as I could. I would never claim to understand the trans experience; I only know this one fictional person, seen through the lens of a lesbian writer. Glad to know there are those out there urging us cis writers to explore that experience. 😉

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