Representing Trans Characters in a Modern Setting


#1

So, this is both going to contain some more general questions and some relating specifically to the game I’m working on.

Anyhow… I’m a cis writer and I’m working on a game where there are trans NPCs and the option to play as a trans character in a story that takes place in a ‘pretty much modern day, but with magic hidden in the background’ setting. And, I’d really like to know how trans readers would like to see trans issues handled. (I know there’ll probably be a variety of different and potentially conflicting view points, but I’d like to hear them so I can keep them in mind.)

Any and all opinions are deeply appreciated. Also, feel free to be blunt/critical.


The general, not specific to the game questions are this:

  • If you play as a trans MC, what experiences would you want the option to have talked about in game?
  • What things would you rather a cis writer leave untouched/unexplored/left to your imagination?
  • How often do you want NPCs/other characters to respond to the MC being trans?
  • Would you rather have NPC characters be generally accepting or have some minor NPCs be jerks about trans issues?
  • Would you like to be able to discuss being trans with your love interest? Your family members?
  • Would you like trans NPCs to have options to talk about their experiences with being trans?
  • Is there anything else you’d like me to keep in mind?

So, my more specific questions actually relate to the specific NPCs I have in mind. There are (minor) spoilers here.

I’ll start with describing the NPCs in question.

James: He’s the MC’s oldest brother and a trans man who’s come out a good number of years before the story. Currently, he works as a nurse and does his best to help support the family. He’s not the most chatty sort, unless you get him started on the supernatural or on science, then he morphs into an enthusiastic nerd. He can be a bit impulsive and hot headed, but is generally well meaning.

A lot of his personal story arc deals with finally having the opportunity to pursue his own wants/passions and needs after spending his life mostly making choices for the good of the family.

Cal McGuff: They’re a potential LI and a genderqueer individual. They’re a young, passionate individual with very strong ideals and a desire to leave a positive impact on the world. They think broad and long term, though occasionally they are naive and pig headed. Currently, they’re a history major with aims of going to law school and spend their spare time either volunteering for causes they believe in or writing fluffy romance novels.

Their personal story arc deals with the conflict between ideals and reality, and ultimately how to reconcile the two.

Toshiko/Hideyoshi Takechi: Takechi is another potential LI and is a trans woman or a trans man depending on which gender(s) the MC is interested in romancing. Takechi is both deeply involved in the stories magical community and is in a relatively high position in said community and in their personal life is a stage actor. When you first meet them, they come off as little hostile and a little snobby, though as you get to know them you learn they have a complicated ego (they usually think they’re the most clever person in the room, but can get very insecure when it comes to personal/emotional matters). They’re critical, sharp and deeply emotional.

Their personal arc also deals with the concept of ‘responsibility to self’ versus ‘responsibility to others,’ though they start of at a point where they’ve almost accidentally wound up in a position with a lot of responsibility and aren’t quite sure that’s where they want to be.


I guess the first question I should ask is: is there anything that bothers you about any of these characters? Anything you see as potentially a problem point?

Now some questions that relate to the specific characters:

James:

  • If your MC is trans, would you like the opportunity to talk about that with James? Or would you prefer the game assumes those conversations have already been had? If the later, would you like to be able to decide anything about those conversations or would you rather it be left to your imagination?
  • How about if your MC is cis?

Cal:

  • Cal is a very a ‘out and proud’ sort of character who would be very comfortable talking about LGBT issues in general. Would you like there to be some point where they talk about it? Do you think it’s better to leave that implied?
  • Cal is currently the only nonbinary NPC and probably the character who is most likely to come off as preachy. Do you think that’s a problem? Should I include another nonbinary NPC who wouldn’t come off as preachy?
  • Should I include another nonbinary NPC so Cal isn’t (potentially) the only nonbinary person represented?
  • My current thought for the MC learning that Cal is genderqueer being simply that Cal has a number of pins on their jacket/backpack and one of those pins is a genderqueer flag and another is a pin with ‘they/them’ on it. Does that work? Should I instead/also have Cal say something like, “Name’s Cal. Nice to meet ya. Oh, by the way, my pronouns are they, them, theirs.”

Takechi:

  • Being trans is obviously a challenge in a theater career. Should that be brought up?
  • Unlike Cal, Takechi is a very, very private person who doesn’t like to reveal personal information in general. I’m trying to decide how to best reveal that they’re trans to the MC. My current thought is that this is something that only comes up if you’re close to them, but then that is content that not everyone would get to see. Is that alright? Are there better ways to reveal Takechi is trans without it being exploitative?
  • Just for clarification purposes, the MC will always know that, say, a trans woman Takechi is a woman.

Lastly, a link to the game for a bit more context if you’d like it: A Net of Magic (WIP)


#2

Hey, so I’d like to suggest checking out the trans thread if you haven’t (admittedly it’s been quiet for a while).

I’m not trans, so I can’t really answer your questions, but I would also be interested to hear what perspectives people will have, since there’s a lot of generally useful questions in there :thinking:

Well, I can say that I’ve definitely seen both of these happen in life. I have definitely known people who include their pronouns when introducing themselves (and sometimes ask “what are yours?” as well). And I’ve also seen plenty of pronoun pins. Could be a design with the pronoun in foreground and the flag as the background :thinking: those exist…

You know, my gut feeling would be that that is alright, because you would, in effect, be respecting your character’s agency in when they’re comfortable with coming out… but I will defer to actual trans people on this :sweat_smile:


#3

Welp, I was gonna link you to the trans thread but I got beat to it. I asked a question about ways to establish a trans mc in an urban fantasy setting not that long ago and that should currently be somewhere close to the end of the thread

I think you should do the former. The latter, especially when done by cis writers, tends to just be uncomfortable and doesn’t really have much of a point when the story isn’t about being trans

Wow it’s like me in the alternate universe where I listened to my mom and went to med school instead of art school :joy:

For a trans mc, you could have an aside that goes something like “Being transgender himself, he really helped me out with (whatever)” or maybe a flashack to a conversation that a cis mc doesn’t have?

I’m not sure what kind of discussion you mean though? Ones that I can think of/that I’ve had with friends of mine who are also trans tend to be about stuff like surgeries or hormones, or, on a rare occasion, about someone being a dick to one of my friends because of their gender. We also have jokes about it but jokes don’t exactly count as conversations. Ones with my cis friends just tend to go like “hey that thing you did back there was kinda transphobic” “oh sorry, I didn’t realize. Won’t do it again” and then that’s it

I think it would be probably best to leave out conversations about subjects like surgery, hormones, or dysphoria to give the player room for interpretation and plus it doesn’t seem relevant to your story

While the button thing is a good nonverbal way to show that someone is genderqueer irl or in a visual medium, I don’t feel like it would translate super well into text, plus not every reader would know what it means. I think it would be best to give Cal some dialogue along with it

Bring it up if it’s relevant to the story, like, say, there’s an antagonist whose goals also directly impact lgbt rights in your setting. Otherwise, it would just be derailing your story

It’s good to have a character who’s really passionate about something and there are definitely a lot of real people passionate about lgbt rights, but there’s a time and a place to discuss it and I find that a really common mistake inexperienced writers (whether it’s with trans characters or with just writing in general) is that they just put it wherever and kind of make a really big deal about that character being trans when there doesn’t need to be one

When two people who are talking face to face, conversation topics can certainly change in subject and tone really suddenly, but when it’s in a narrative, it just makes the reader go “wait what? How did we get here?” and sometimes it almost comes off as a charicature of trans people by making it seem like it’s all we talk about and our only aspect is being trans

Also a little thing that’s bugged my about games with a nonbinary character is that that character is usually the only one in the game so then they’re kind of The Nonbinary Character. You certainly don’t need to do it, but if there was something like a background npc or something who’s casually refered to with gender neutral pronouns, that would also be nice

Again, bring this up if it’s relevant. Maybe they auditioned for the role of a trans character (I know there’s at least a few plays and musicals that feature trans female characters but I can’t remember any titles. Unfortunately I don’t know if there are any trans male characters in theater) and a cis actor got the role instead?

That’s a bit of a delicate situation so honestly I’m really not sure. If you think you can do it, go ahead, if you’re not feeling very sure about it, don’t. Whichever way you go though, avoid having the mc say something like “wow I had no idea. You pass as cis” regardless of whether the mc is trans or cis

http://monsterpop.mayakern.com This webcomic has a character in a similar situation to what you described (his name is Percy btw) and I’m super behind on the comic but I’ve heard that it was handled really well so you could probably look and see how it was done there. The character was based on the author’s friend and his journey though, so you should also keep that in mind while reading


#4

signs up to answer this

Firstly, I want to thank you for including binary trans options in your game. I almost cheered when I saw it. I feel like trans women and men get bundled with cis women and men in CoG a lot because it’s not going to come up in the story and the pronouns are the same, so it’s nice when games acknowledge that there are differences.

As a disclaimer, I’m in a weird spot gender-wise and a (sometimes?) trans man isn’t the best source for advice about representing NB people and trans women, so take everything I say on that matter with a grain of salt. I think I can swing it on general trans topics, though.

I also want to say that I truly think no media is ever going to be perfect and that even media made entirely or almost entirely by marginalized people is going to have some kind of problem down the line. If it’s not one thing it’s the other. I encourage you not to stress too much about being flawless and just do your best. Not that you’re not already, but I see a lot of people refuse to write certain kinds of representation because they don’t think they have the skill for it, which obviously means that we get less representation, and since I’m not making a game any time soon (or ever), I would honestly prefer that even a cis person tries their best and listens instead of just not doing it.

I can’t answer a few of your general questions, simply because I don’t know the answer to them. They’re things I’d need to see in-game and make a judgment on afterwards, rather than come up with independently.

Obligatory apology for length.

How often do you want NPCs/other characters to respond to the MC being trans?

This is hard to answer because I’m not sure I’d know how often is often enough without playing the whole game. If I’m given the option to be trans and it’s never mentioned, I’m going to feel cheated, but if it’s inescapable, I’m going to feel like having a “normal” story is for cis people. On the bright side, I think it’d take a lot of work to reference being trans so many times that it’s overwhelming. As long as it’s relevant, and I’m not just being reminded that I’m trans for the sake of it, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Would you rather have NPC characters be generally accepting or have some minor NPCs be jerks about trans issues?

Does it serve the plot or a purpose?

I don’t know how you would include bigotry as a major plot point if the story isn’t about being trans and the struggles thereof. It’s urban fantasy with trans people, not trans fiction with urban fantasy undertones.

Buuut…say, for instance, a character harasses the MC or James for being trans (it doesn’t sound like what you’re asking about would be particularly horrible or traumatic, but just as an example), and perhaps either the MC or James leaps to the other’s defense…that would be a moment to illustrate their relationship, show off their character, etc. But is it appropriate? Does it fit? I don’t know. Maybe only you can decide that.

As for whether or not I want to play that, eh…I don’t know? Having a character defend the MC, or seeing something bad happen to a transphobe, especially as a direct consequence of their transphobia, could be affirming for some trans people. Is that worth potentially alienating readers who don’t want to expose themselves to that? Not sure. I think that’s also something you’re going to have to decide is or isn’t right for your game.

Would you like to be able to discuss being trans with your love interest? Your family members?

Coming out to a love interest that doesn’t know…interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen it done in a game before.

To be clear, although I don’t think this is what you even want to do, I’d hate to romance a character and then be rejected for being trans. I’m not sure if I’d want to have to roleplay explaining it to them, either, so if you did it, I’d recommend a short “hey, I’m trans,” maybe plus a throwaway “and then I told X what that means for them and our relationship and it was great and we can move on now.” Plus, doing a Q&A every time the MC comes out would bring your game to a screeching halt repeatedly. It’d be faster to gather everybody together and shout it at them through a megaphone, or hand out 101 Trans Facts flyers.

However, I’ve heard of trans people post-bottom surgery being able to, say, have sex, without cis partners knowing they’re trans. Trans women can have vaginas and trans men can have penises, testicles, and even get erect through certain methods; the magic of science! (Maybe James would approve.) So depending on whether or not the MC had bottom surgery, a love interest, even one they’ve had sex with, might not even know unless they were told.

I’m assuming choosing whether or not to have had bottom surgery won’t be an option, because picking all the minutiae of being a trans person would be a character creation screen of epic proportions–“Do you pass always, mostly, sometimes, rarely, or never? Are you on hormones? Are those hormones delivered via injection, gel, implant, etc.? Have you had top and/or bottom surgery? What kind?” I doubt anyone wants to code that, and I hate picking even hair and eye colors.

Perhaps you could have a scene, on its own or not (as in, maybe they were talking about something else right beforehand), in which a trans MC has the option of coming out to their love interest, but don’t make it mandatory. As in, the first option ends the conversation/starts a new one, and the second option is something like, “There’s something I want to tell you. I’m transgender.” I think that solves a lot of your problems; anybody who doesn’t want to have that conversation doesn’t have to and vice versa, and a trans MC could theoretically be impossible to distinguish from a cis person, so you’re not making any statements about what trans people look like.

I don’t have any strong opinions on family, right now, since we have James, and I feel like he covers a lot of bases, there. Maybe once I know more about them I’ll feel differently.

Would you like trans NPCs to have options to talk about their experiences with being trans?

If you mean, “Do I want the MC to have the option to ask NPCs about being trans,” I’m not sure. On the one hand, that’s something that could be abused, but on the other hand, it’s not unrealistic.

It also depends on whether or not the MC is trans, themselves. A trans person would probably have different motivations than a cis person to ask about another trans person’s experiences.

If you want there to be an option to ask trans NPCs about being trans, may I suggest using James for that? As the MC’s brother, he would presumably be the most open/understanding to questions, since they have a bond. Better than meeting Cal and going, “Oh, so you’re trans? What’s that like? :slight_smile: ” It could also be one of those conversations that happened before the game starts–maybe James had that talk with them when he came out, and now they’re fairly educated about it and don’t need to ask general questions.

I guess the first question I should ask is: is there anything that bothers you about any of these characters? Anything you see as potentially a problem point?

Something–this is no way an indictment of you, so don’t worry:

Here’s what I know about James from your blurb: Supports his family, quiet, enthusiastic nerd, impulsive, hot-headed, well-meaning.

Here’s what I know about Cal from your blurb: Passionate, with strong ideals and a desire to leave a positive impact on the world, thinks broad and long term, occasionally naive and pigheaded, writes fluffy romance novels.

Here’s what I know about Takechi from your blurb: Comes off as hostile and a little snobby at first, has a complicated ego and thinks they’re the cleverest person in the room, but has serious insecurities around personal/emotional matters, critical, sharp, and emotional.

I feel like there’s a big difference between how you describe James and Cal and then Takechi; I get an overall positive impression of James and Cal, but I get an overall negative impression of Takechi based on your description.

Surely Takechi has positive qualities? I don’t know if you mean “sharp” as in clever or scathing, but if it’s the former, that would support their belief that they’re the cleverest person in the room, and a smart character is always good to have around. I don’t know if it was the intention, but when I read “emotional” I automatically jumped to “empathetic” even though it could mean “intense.” As an actor, I imagine they’re in tune with emotions, both theirs and others’–there’s potential to be secretly empathetic and understanding underneath their mask, and they could learn to harness that to undertake those responsibilities you mention. Also as an actor, they must be creative, certainly not shy, and may even have musical talents if that’s what their job requires. (Singing comes up every now and then, at least in trans male communities, but I don’t know if it applies to Takechi, so I won’t go into it right now.)

Where does their insecurity come from? Does it have anything to do with them being trans? A character who’s a jerk as a defense mechanism is a lot more sympathetic than a character who’s just like that; even moreso if the MC can break through that wall, and even moreso if Takechi can then learn from that experience and carry it into their interactions with others. Takechi ending the game as someone much more easygoing and less critical would be very satisfying for those who choose to try to make that happen.

I’m not saying you must secretly hate Takechi or something and want us to hate them in turn; I’m sure these are the relevant parts of their character boiled down, and if you had reason to write more, we’d have a much deeper understanding of them. A summary is a summary.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think trans characters have to be perfect so cis readers don’t hate them. In fact, I think Takechi sounds genuinely interesting, and of the characters you’ve listed here, I’m probably the most excited to get to know them. This is just advice (hopefully?) for what to look for when you’re writing them/about them so we get the whole character and not just their most extreme traits under a magnifying glass. I suggest putting them in a position where their mask won’t help them, so they have to be vulnerable and confront their insecurity, and preferably don’t punish them for that vulnerability. If they think they have to be harsh to get by–prove them wrong.

If your MC is trans, would you like the opportunity to talk about that with James? Or would you prefer the game assumes those conversations have already been had? If the later, would you like to be able to decide anything about those conversations or would you rather it be left to your imagination?

That would be nice. Being trans is something that’s going to keep being a thing for (presumably) their whole lives. It’s only believable for them to talk about it as such.

There’s a lot of potential for a conversation about being trans with James, specifically, because as you say, “He’s the MC’s oldest brother and a trans man who’s come out a good number of years before the story.” Being in the closet is excruciating. If James is the only/first trans person in the family and didn’t know how they would react to him coming out, he may have understood just how excruciating. Something like that could contribute to his character, and it sounds like that might be the case if his arc is about pursuing what he wants rather than what’s good for his family; at the very least, that’s a very poignant stealth-commentary on being closeted and coming out.

I don’t know how big the age difference is between him and the MC, but presumably he would have come out either before they knew they were trans or before they were ready to come out. Heck, who did James come out to first, or did he tell the family as a group? Kids have the capacity to understand and accept someone being trans, at least before the rest of the world gets to them–could he have come out to a potentially very young MC to test it out? Could he have told them and/or his other brother so he would have backup when he came out to his parents? This is all just spitballing and completely up to you–my point is, there are probably infinite ways you could handle it. He could have been the person who made the MC feel like being trans was okay, their confidante. I would kill to have even a trans acquaintance I know in person right now–there’s a lot of power in being able to talk about shared experiences, even if it’s just to find out that you’re not the only person who’s ever felt a certain way.

How about if your MC is cis?

That awkward moment when you would never play a cis character if you don’t have to…

I don’t see a reason to remove a conversation with James about being trans if it’s already there, unless he’s more cagey about it with a cis MC. Even though I’m out about my sexuality (or a sexuality I previously had) to one person in my family, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to make things awkward or even remind her that I told her, because I wasn’t raised to even consider being not-straight and not-cis an option. Whether or not James would want to talk about it might depend on what messages he got from his family early on and whether or not they encouraged his trust.

Cal is a very a ‘out and proud’ sort of character who would be very comfortable talking about LGBT issues in general. Would you like there to be some point where they talk about it?

Sure. Even better if I get to play a character that can relate and talk to them about it, too, not just listen. (Although sometimes you just gotta soapbox. I understand. Clearly.)

I’d be wary of making Cal a mouthpiece, but…trans people talk about trans stuff. Particularly around other trans people. Particularly when someone needs to vent. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, backspace and it’s like it was never there.

Do you think it’s better to leave that implied?

I don’t see any reason to imply anything. We already have explicitly stated trans characters. If your story is “everything is exactly the same but magic exists,” presumably everything revolving around being LGBT is the same, too. I don’t think you or Cal have to be coy about anything. Let it fly.

Cal is currently the only nonbinary NPC and probably the character who is most likely to come off as preachy. Do you think that’s a problem? Should I include another nonbinary NPC who wouldn’t come off as preachy?

Is Cal preachy, and do you want them to be? I think it’s a perfectly valid character trait, albeit a flaw, and a dangerous one for a trans character to have. Either way, it’s a matter of perception, and you can’t control how people see a character.

Characters that are perceived as only being there to teach a lesson tend to experience blowback, but in my experience, it’s hard to tell the difference between people who are honestly concerned that a character is being tokenized and used as a mouthpiece by the creator, and people who just don’t want to be confronted with realistic social issues, particularly when they’re the ones who are privileged. Or rather, it’s easy to tell the difference, but people rarely want to admit which one they are.

I think as long as what the character says and believes is true to them and not a stand-in for what you say and believe (although there’s nothing wrong with writing something topical to what you believe–sometimes you just gotta soapbox), and you allow them to be more than just a trans person, you should be just fine.

Should I include another nonbinary NPC so Cal isn’t (potentially) the only nonbinary person represented?

If you want. More trans people is always good. I don’t think you have to have a completely even number of characters from every group, but particularly if you feel that Cal would only represent one type of NB person, I see no reason not to add another if you want to. It would be an opportunity to show that there are many, many, many genders under the nonbinary umbrella, at least.

My current thought for the MC learning that Cal is genderqueer being simply that Cal has a number of pins on their jacket/backpack and one of those pins is a genderqueer flag and another is a pin with ‘they/them’ on it. Does that work? Should I instead/also have Cal say something like, “Name’s Cal. Nice to meet ya. Oh, by the way, my pronouns are they, them, theirs.”

Both work for me. Since the MC has a trans brother or can be trans themselves, it’s fair to assume they may be able to recognize pride flags and understand what pronoun pins mean, and therefore they wouldn’t have to ask, or make a mistake and be corrected.

You might also want to consider Cal’s history with being misgendered and how defensive they are of themselves and their pronouns. If they’re not bothered by other people using the wrong pronouns when they first meet, they may be fine with symbols like a “they/them” pin and then correcting anyone who doesn’t notice/ignores that, and if it does bother them (because it triggers their dysphoria if they have any, because it signals a lack of respect, etc.) then they may have started preemptively introducing themselves with their pronouns to avoid that. It’s up to you and how you want to portray the character.

Being trans is obviously a challenge in a theater career. Should that be brought up?

Honestly, if it doesn’t have to do with their singing like I mentioned earlier (assuming they sing at all), I can’t think of a way in which being trans in theater would be distinct from being trans in any other job? Might be a question for somebody else, unless you’ve got any specific examples of how it’s challenging for them.

Unlike Cal, Takechi is a very, very private person who doesn’t like to reveal personal information in general. I’m trying to decide how to best reveal that they’re trans to the MC. My current thought is that this is something that only comes up if you’re close to them, but then that is content that not everyone would get to see. Is that alright? Are there better ways to reveal Takechi is trans without it being exploitative?

I think needing to be close to them to learn they’re trans is a fair trade-off. It sounds true to the character, and it’s much better than them being outed by someone else or a circumstance out of their control. I wouldn’t worry about some players not seeing it. They can always replay, which they probably will at some point anyway, because CoG is aaalll about branching paths and replayability. If they weren’t, you’d all just be writing books. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: It’s like any other choice in one of these games; if you choose to work on that relationship, you earn their trust.

One thing that occurred to me is that if James is always the same gender, and Takechi is always a gender the MC is interested in, you could potentially end up with, say, a gay trans man MC, trans man James, and trans man Takechi, which would mean you would have no trans women in your game, I presume? If you’re concerned about things like whether or not to add another NB character to balance out Cal, I imagine you’d feel the same about representing trans women. I suggest adding a trans woman, if at all possible, who’s always a trans woman, and/or allowing the player to pick if Takechi is a man or a woman–that way there won’t be as large an imbalance. Frankly, as a gay trans man (…so far), I’d love to be able to play the game with a trans woman Takechi and befriend her; such an interesting character.

You may also want to consider that trans women and men, while we have a lot in common, don’t share our struggles 1:1, and this is only compounded by race, sexuality, etc. Since Takechi is very private, it may not come up, but trans man Takechi and trans woman Takechi would experience different things. If you explore them being trans any deeper than surface level, you’re probably going to run into something that would be true for only one version of Takechi.

It’s super late for me, so if I don’t respond to anything in the next…forever…it’s because I’m passed out. But I’ll check in later if anyone needs me. :v:


#5

Versus did it, but it was a character coming out to you, I’m not sure what happens if you’re a trans mc.


#6

Thank you very much for the link :smiley: And thank you for adding your thoughts into the mix.


#7

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. It’s very helpful and so, thank you :slight_smile:

Mostly, for discussions I wasn’t sure if it’d be nice to have an option to, say, for the opportunity to say… have the MC maybe have thoughts like ‘it was kind of nice having my older brother come out before me, made it easier,’ or and potentially have an option to go into that a bit. (Or the option to have a less positive response as well.) But, then, that also would be pretty plot-derailing.

One of my main concerns (which you addressed in a very helpful way) is trying to balance keeping focus on the plot (which doesn’t directly deal with LGBT issues) and avoiding making the story feel like it was written with a cis MC as default and a trans MC as an afterthought.

( And I’m actually keeping up with Monster Pop! :smiley: I’ll go recheck how the author worked that in, since I do remember it was handled pretty well. )

And, just, thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions!


#8

No problem :relaxed:

Also yeah I totally get you with trying to keep things balanced. In my own WIP, I feel like I have a lot of stuff already for just story content so I ended up tossing ideas for MC customizing beyond name and gender completely. Plus I have a bad habit of going off on tangents anyway (most papers I’ve written for school have been returned with comments like ‘off topic’ and ‘idea unclear’) so getting rid of ideas not immediately important/related to topic is something I’m trying to work on myself (though I’m probably proving my own point here by rambling like this…)

Yeah Monster Pop is great :smile: I’ve been reading it I think since like chapter 2 or something and that was kind of around the time I started questioning my gender and the author answering a fan theory that Percy was trans helped me a bit come to terms with it


#9

i would, honestly, prefer the former. as a trans reader (agender, specifically), part of the reason i really enjoy CoG/HG stories/games is that – when nonbinary or trans options are provided, and even LGB options – everyone is accepting of it. when i read this stuff, i like to not be reminded of the jerk-y things people are.

if it’s irrelevant to the storyline, it may cause discomfort in actual trans readers, because perhaps they don’t want to be reminded of this. of course, you could add content warnings to this, but then again part of the reason for having trans characters is for trans readers to enjoy and relate to. you could potentially alienate the trans readers you want to represent.

i don’t, obviously, speak for all trans or nonbinary people. but this is just my 2 cents.

i hope this is coherent. it’s 1:30am in philadelphia and i’m kind of half asleep but i wanted to say something.


#10

Ahh!! First, I want to thank you for such a detailed answer. The length is length is perfectly wonderful. It was very helpful to read over.

Also, thank you very much for the encouragement.

The story sort of deals with oppression (mostly through, like, magical allegory), but the focus is more on dealing with unequal power dynamics between groups of people rather than (overt) bigotry. (I’d go into detail, but that becomes both major spoiler territory and probably irrelevant here.)

So, yeah, it’s definitely the ‘urban fantasy that includes trans people’ option.

My main motivation for asking if I should include bigotry or no was mostly to make sure I wasn’t just assuming ‘nope, no one wants to deal with that, so I can just not put it in.’

I was thinking about something along those lines. :slight_smile: (And potentially thinking of maybe for romances/friendships with Cal and Takechi to have there be the option for a trans MC to say it’s nice to be dating/to be friends with another trans person.)

My thoughts there were mostly… Well, I’m bi and there’s a sort of comfort when I realize I’m not the only LGBT person in a room. Things like, ‘it’s good to have someone who ‘gets it’ in the room with me.’

I mean, with bi/pan/gay/etc. MCs, that’s probably not gonna be a thing that happens because like, all the love interests are bi/pan, James is bi and your other brother is gay and the sexualities of the rest of the NPCs are unstated. Having people who are not-straight in the room is just the norm here.

But, for trans characters, I was wondering if it’d be nice for them to have thoughts or quick exchanges about it being nice to have another trans person in the room or some such thing. Or, if that’d just be superfluous.

Takechi is uh… a complicated case. They’re kind of a porcupine (prickly with a squishy underbelly) who is meant to start of seeming like a ‘rival’ character of sorts. And then that perception gets more complicated once you learn more about them/the world. (They’re one of the LIs with the most ‘screen time’ so to speak, just because of story role. )

I’d answer your questions about them, but that ends up becoming major spoiler territory. (Though, I will say being trans is an aspect of that insecurity but far from the whole story.)

Cal is… well, the best way I can point out what I mean by preachy is (if you’ve seen it) Katara from ATLA. Passionate about the things they care about, very outspoken and when they see something they feel is wrong, they will speak up.

The main things I imagine they’re gonna get really worked up about in game actually relate to more plot things. My current plans for including them caring about LGBT stuff are things like ‘they were coming back from XYZ protest when PLOT THING happened’ and potentially some optional conversations. I’m still developing that, since the subplot they’re involved in doesn’t fully kick off until the middle of the game.

Yeah, that definitely was something I was thinking about. Also the not 1-to-1 experience thing. With the experiences, I figured I’d just have to make sure to be careful, when/if relevant, to have some conversations go different for Hideyoshi vs Toshiko.

…Though, there was a thing I was toying with in my head. There’s a potential LI who is close friends with the MC’s other brother, Robert. Robert happens to have uh… have really poor taste in men. If said potential LI is a man, I was thinking of giving the MC an option to play match maker a little. If I fixed Takechi as a woman and the other potential LI as a man then that sort of works out.

But, the letting people pick a potential LIs gender is a good idea! I liked what Mecha Ace (if you played it) did with that. I think I’ll toy around with that thought, too. (I mean, I’m also having a hard time figuring out how to ask about player sexuality early in the game so that solves another issue.)

Anyhow, thank you so much again! You’ve given me a lot of good suggestions and things to think about. :slight_smile:


#11

I totally feel you with regards to tangents. Hahaha :slight_smile:

And :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: That’s awesome to know!


#12

Thank you for the insight! And you were completely coherent. That’s also what I enjoy about CoG/HG as a bi reader, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just projecting my own perspective there. :slight_smile:

But yeah, on of my main motivations for having trans characters in the narrative is for trans readers. So, I want to avoid discomfort as much as possible.


#13

I always like it when gay ROs get boyfriends even if I’m not dating them. :blush: Do you think it would work if those two were always a set gender while the others (is it another two of them?) change with your preference?


#14

Oh gosh everyone has pretty much hit the nail on the head, but this thread summoned me at the mention of trans characters (and the option to be trans).

One thing I find with cis writers trying to portray a trans character is that they’re often quite uneducated about it. While I appreciate that these people are trying to do, and it’s a good step in the right direction, some portrayals of trans characters can seem a bit hurtful. I even read a book once where the main character purposefully misgendered their transgender friend. Not fun.

Anyway, I digressed a bit there. I think the best piece of advice I can give is that being transgender isn’t the only aspect of a character. While some trans people (me included) cling to that piece of them with reckless abandon, it isn’t the case for others. It really depends on the person.

That being said, I appreciate that you’re trying to include trans characters and am looking forward to your game!


#15

If there are trans characters talking about being trans and Cal is doing things like attending protests, I think that’s enough to acknowledge that this is a “same but different” universe in which transphobia exists, but without having to expose the player to it (and risk scaring them off).

I can relate. :slight_smile:

I don’t think it would be superfluous. If I didn’t want my MC being trans to be acknowledged in some way, I’d play a cis MC. Small details like feeling comforted by other trans people being around is a good way to do that!

Sounds good to me! If what they get worked up about is related to the plot and not…let’s say, “divisive” topics, I don’t think you have to worry about them coming off as preachy. Like I said, it’s a matter of perception, and people will see what they want to see.

No problem! I’m glad you could get something out of that small novel I wrote. :stuck_out_tongue:


#16

I think it would work. (Actually make my job a lot easier, tbh.) But… I’ll probably be ruminating on this for a bit.


#17

I can totally understand the concern. :slight_smile:

I can say that I have done/do a lot of research on trans issues (and on social issues in general) and have written trans characters before (just never for an audience that consisted of more than a few friends). I don’t know if that’s reassuring and I definitely don’t want to assume that any amount of research means I’ve learned ‘enough.’

I can currently, the three trans NPCs all have a lot going on that isn’t related to being trans and different relationships with their identity. But, then, how successful I am at conveying that, well… can’t be seen until the final product.

In the end, the game will sort of have to speak for itself. But, I welcome any critiques of the game, as I want to do the best job I possibly can.

The main reason I wanted to ask these questions is that I want to make sure I’m listening and that I keep listening.

So, basically, I definitely understand your concern and am doing my very best not to be rushing in from an ignorant point of view. I can only hope that it’ll be enough.


#18

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

I’m really glad you took the time to write a ‘small novel.’


#19

i like this idea! or have a pride event. this way it shows that there’s still the existence of transphobia (and of course homophobia), but indirectly. especially because something like pride is a way to make a positive out of a negative.

maybe you can use this type of scenario to maybe introduce a character as trans – inviting the main character to pride, or mentioning that they attended pride, and the main character being like, “oh i didn’t know you were part of the LGBT community?” and the npc being like, “oh yeah, i’m trans! sometimes i forget that not everyone can tell.” or something along those lines.