Advice needed for writing trans characters

Hey all!

I’m in the midst of writing a novel atm, and have a character who happens to be trans in it. I don’t know any transfolk irl, and don’t recall ever meeting one. None of my characters in the past either have been part of this community, so I have very little experience overall.

I want to treat this character with care and respect like I do with the rest of the cast, but as you’ve all probably guessed I don’t have an accurate idea on how to do that.

I have read through a few IFs to try and get an idea, but I can only gleam so much through prose and whatnot. I don’t even know if the examples I’ve read are good portrayals.

Anyway enough with my rambling, I don’t mind what type of input it is. Whether it is a more general experience, or something more specific like motivations, fears, interpersonal interactions, etc.

Any advice would be absolutely lovely, thank you everyone in advance!

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Here is an article about some basic pitfalls to avoid which may be helpful. There are also a few older threads on the subject which may be of interest too: here and here (although it seems that it ended up devolving into fights, there are likely some useful points of interest there too).

The most important thing, really, is that you want to treat the character with care and respect, so you’re coming at it from a good standpoint. The next important thing is to keep in mind that trans people aren’t a monolith and even if a lot of trans players feel you’ve got a character “right”, others will not - and it’s helpful to make peace with that. You are not going to be able to find a checklist that will make your work definite good “representation” unfortunately!

While there are common experiences, every trans character is going to be different - two trans women will look and be different to each other because they’re different people, let alone a trans woman and a trans man; some nonbinary people don’t see themselves as trans at all; people transition in different ways and with vsatly different feelings about their gender. All of which to say is, as with any character, it’s worth really getting to know your character, their personality, and how you’d describe them.

There are various trans youtubers who documented or discussed how they feel about their gender and transitions, and lots of memoirs from trans authors which may be helpful. I also suggest seeking out books and games about trans people, preferably created by them - this can be tricky sometimes because not all trans people are out - and exploring them. Around ten years ago there were loads of free Twine games made by trans people about their experiences, and you can find a lot of them archived on IFDB. There are plenty from more recent times as well, and there are a number of ChoiceScript games with trans characters - it is slowly becoming more common.

For a variety of reasons, I was nervous about writing binary trans characters, or going into more detail about nonbinary characters’ relationships with their gender, for a long time. When I was writing the trans characters in my new game, I took time to solidify and write down each character’s relationship with their gender, how it evolved over time, and so on. Then I did the same for the cis characters and their relationships with gender, masculinity, and femininity. It helped me understand the characters better and feel that they were more fleshed out. This may be helpful for you to do as an exercise.


There is only one thing I would add to @HannahPS 's post above:

Keep the golden rule of: “Write your character as an individual first” in mind as you write, and the core of the character should be solid and appreciated.


Thank you for the extremely detailed answer, it’s given me a lot to consider for the character and will be super helpful!

But yes I forgot to mention in my initial post that I wasn’t expecting there to be ‘one size fits all’ answer, as no two people are the same.

Thank you again! I can’t stress enough how helpful this is.


Thank you and of course! I think it makes the characters feel much more genuine this way, and can help different readers connect with different members of the cast.

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