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Emermouse
02-16-2015, 07:16 AM
I brought this up in the Quiltbag forum and I've been doing all kinds of research on the subject, but I still have a few questions regarding the subject that I hope someone can help me out with.

I'm working on a sequel in which a character, who had been in the background, plays a larger part. I've decided said character is a trans male.

My genre is YA post-apocalyptic. All the adults are dead as a result of a virus, so I know my character is limited in what he can do to pass as his chosen gender. I've done enough googling on the subject to know that there are low-tech ways of strapping and packing, so to speak, but I kind of wonder what other means would be available to him in this setting? Like would hormone therapy be too far beyond his means or something? Because I figure there'd be pharmacies/hospitals that he can loot, but yeah, no one needs to tell me that radical hormone therapy without the help of a doctor monitoring you is kind of a risky venture. But are there other options I'm overlooking?

If you're wondering, the story is a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic where the adults are dead as result of a virus. So that in itself kind of limits how far my character can go with his transformation. In fact, I've been reading up on Trans Men, and trying to figure out what means are available to my character. Yeah, I know there are several, low-tech ways of strapping and packing so to speak, but I also wonder about other stuff he could do. I suppose he could get access to hormonal therapies from hospitals and pharmacies and whatnot, but yeah, that sounds like a risky avenue to go down. But I do want to know what other options are available to him.

I have sketched out a rough background for him. He knew from an early age that he was boy, no matter what everyone else said. It was a long time before he stumbled onto the concept of being transgender, but once he did, he pretty much did everything he could to educate himself on passing, the tricks and all that, dreaming of someday trying them for himself.

As terrible as it sounds, the outbreak served as a liberating force. He'd spent most of his childhood miserable, unable to be the girl people wanted him to be, but unable to be the guy he wanted to be. He spent most of the outbreak trying to do whatever he could to take care of his family, but when they died, he stumbled onto the realization that he was free. He could move somewhere, be the boy he always wanted to be, and live the life he wanted without having to worry about breaking his parents' hearts. Lot of people changed their names/identities and as a general rule, most in the post-Virus world are pretty laissez faire when it comes to sexuality/gender. Most of the survivors generally assume you are who you say you are and don't care about your gender/sexuality unless it directly affects them because everyone's struggling to survive.

But even despite this, he still nervous. No one has to tell him that transgender people face dangers from people who don't understand, so as a result, he tends to be a little standoffish. He's fallen in love with a girl, but he doesn't know how to go about voicing his gender identity, so he's accepted that there are limits to how close he can get to the girl he loves.

As a general rule, everyone assumes he's just one of the guys and has no reason to question otherwise, but are there any clues that might inadvertently tip someone off to his complicated gender identity?

Yeah, sorry for the long post, but any help you can provide would be nice.

Brutal Mustang
02-16-2015, 07:34 AM
Your story sounds insanely interesting. Today Crack posted an article titled, 6 Awful Lessons I Learned Transitioning from Female to Male (http://www.cracked.com/article_22096_6-awful-lessons-i-learned-transitioning-from-female-to-male.html). I haven't read it yet, so I don't know if it's any good.

Emermouse
02-17-2015, 05:31 AM
Yeah, I've read the article. It's pretty cool, but y'know I'm always on the lookout for more information so I can do the subject justice and all.

auzerais
02-17-2015, 08:10 AM
Hormone therapy is probably out...I am, in fact, horrified at what unmonitored access to testosterone might result in.

But transition is so much more than hormones, really. You have to break down all of the little behaviors that are gender related, most of them cultural. And there are an astronomical number of tells. How does he act around people? (If you sit down next to a woman, she will probably move over, to accommodate you in her space. She makes herself small. Men are not usually taught to do that.) How does he walk? How does he communicate when he has a problem? I'm sure that he's studied people to try to pinpoint how men act so that he can emulate it.

It sounds like he has some anxiety about passing as a male. I imagine that he may focus on traditional male behaviors and act more stereotypically male. He may also be self-conscious of certain of his traits that are more stereotypically female. His hands, for example, might be an issue. He will not have an adam's apple.

I hope I've been useful.

kuwisdelu
02-17-2015, 09:14 AM
But transition is so much more than hormones, really.

Yup.

In your setting, I wouldn't even worry about any physical changes.

Focus on the psychological, behavioral, cultural aspects of transitioning.

cat_named_easter
02-18-2015, 01:27 AM
Disagree a little with the couple of comments above. If your character's true gender is male, I don't think they need to "learn" or study male traits at all. If this is who the character feels inside, they will surely already be behaving and acting in traditionally male ways. If a biological male transitions to female, he doesn't have to learn how to "act like a woman" - he will already have these traits, hence the reason for his transition in the first place.

I guess some of the cultural things that are definitely learned (holding doors open for women etc.), yeah maybe. But then depending how far into the future your novel is set, these social customs might not be part of your imaginary culture anyway.

The adam's apple thing's a great suggestion. Also his voice may be a little higher-pitched (perhaps not noticeable). There would also be the whole issue of periods and making sure that's kept hidden...

As for your first question (sorry - sidetracked!), I don't see what other options or avenues the character will have in their transition. Apart from hormone treatment, their only other outlet physically would just be the way they dress and cut their hair. They probably won't wear makeup/pluck eyebrows/shave legs etc. Could they attempt to "draw" on fake facial hair? Haha oh god, that sounds ridiculous. You never know...

StormChord
02-18-2015, 03:41 AM
If I were a transgender male in a post-apocalyptic world…

I'd keep my hair cropped shortish but messy, to help disguise the roundness of my features without looking feminine. I'd wear a lot of layers on my torso and stick with baggy cargo pants, both for the extra pockets and the looseness disguising my hips. A sports bra or a chest binding would be good, but not necessarily readily available.

And I might, if it were possible, raid an abandoned drugstore for birth control drugs like Quasense - which is a common and easy-to-find pill-form drug that eliminate periods if taken constantly and lasts up to three months. I'd shy away from testosterone treatments, because (a) as previously mentioned, uncontrolled doses could be devastating and (b) they could react poorly with any other drugs I'd be taking, including the aforementioned birth control.

I'd train up my physical strength, both to survive and to build up enough muscle to more convincingly pass as male. I'd probably up my aggression, too.


Of the things that I imagine would tip off the others - not having to shave ever, not (ahem) relieving himself the same way as the other boys, and most likely being overall somewhat weaker than them seem like the biggest ones to me.

BaneStryfe
03-16-2015, 07:52 PM
Disagree a little with the couple of comments above. If your character's true gender is male, I don't think they need to "learn" or study male traits at all. If this is who the character feels inside, they will surely already be behaving and acting in traditionally male ways. If a biological male transitions to female, he doesn't have to learn how to "act like a woman" - he will already have these traits, hence the reason for his transition in the first place.


I can't help but disagre with this. I am a transgender, male to female, but that doesn't mean I don't have to learn how to 'act like a woman.' I grew up as a man, didn't even really know what I was until I was 18. There are a lot of male traits I have because that was how I grew up, and they are very hard to change when they are so ingrained in you. I think that how a transgender is raised defines how much "learning" is required to be comfortable with being the opposite gender, or whereever the transgender decides to sit on the spectrum.

A person who is transgender doesn't have to be female or male, they can sit in the middle. they don't NEED to get surgery, or take hormones, or whatever. Sometimes they're comfortable sitting more to one side or the other, but not committing to a full-blown change. I will add that it can be difficult to want a full-blown change into another gender when you've spent most of your life as the other. It can be a very frightening prospect.

Chase
03-16-2015, 08:41 PM
I'm so sorry. I entered a request in the wrong place. :e2paperba

MrAtley
03-17-2015, 11:13 PM
I'll try to answer this as best as I can via mobile device.
Hormone therapy (I can only speak as a trans male) needs medical supervision. Testosterone dosages need to be monitored because too much can revert to estrogen, can damage organs, cause too many red blood cells, and several other things.
For injections, even if they decided to do this with all the risks of no doctor, this person would need access to clean needles and knowledge of where to inject (it cannot be done just anywhere)
Creams/gels still need to be monitored and do have a transfer risk (if someone is sharing a bed with a spouse, has small children on them frequently this isn't usually a great option)
Pills are not used. They are insanely destructive on the liver, and other organs.
Over the counter things, like testosterone boosters, are meant for cis men. They are dangerous to trans men and will likely do very little as far as changing features.

Binding: ace bandages and taping are dangerous. They cause tissue damage, lung and rib damage (pneumonia, broken ribs etc) as well as deform the ribs among other awful things. A proper binder poses risks as well, though with proper wear and knowledge the risks are much lower.
Depending on his chest size there are things like compression shirts, similar to what athletes/cyclists wear. This may be an option for a small chested man.

Packing can be done with socks, a condol and hair gel, a packer (though I doubt in this scenario there is much access to) and many other things. In this world this area could get a little creative. Also, many trans guys don't pack. It comes down to preference, dysphoria, setting etc. I personally do not and no one has noticed ever.

As far as personality/behavior, this world you've created is going to have people acting differently I would imagine. It's post apocalypse so people may be more on edge, violent etc. This could play into anyone's mannerisms.

Again, on a mobile device so feel free to message me if I can answer anything for you.

Emermouse
09-06-2016, 05:25 AM
Hey, thought about starting a thread about this in QUILTBAG, but decided to just perform resurrection on my old thread. Sorry if that offends anyone.

Again, like I said, the character I'm writing about is a transgender male. In my first book, he was mostly a background character, but I decided to bring him more to the fray in Book Two.

Anyway, I'm kind of nervous, since I'm a cisgender female and no one has to tell me that this is a delicate issue I'm getting involved in. Since you guys were so much help with earlier inquiries, after a recent post in Where (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?76001-Where-are-you-(in-your-novel)&p=9934306&viewfull=1#post9934306) Are You In Your Novel? didn't receive any replies, thought I'd try linking to it here and seeing if anyone here can give me some good sound advice.

Like I said, given that this is the post-apocalypse, there are obvious limits to how far my trans character can go in transitioning. No surgeries for obvious reasons. Though at the same time, people have bigger things to worry about than GLBT people. To the extent the other characters in my series notice my character, they know he's odd, but don't really have any reason to question whether he's one of the guys, both because, again, they've got bigger things to worry about, and also, even in ordinary times, most people just assume you are who you say you are, until presented proof otherwise.

Anyway, just thought I'd do some thread resurrection to make sure I'm on the right track. Figured someone could point out where I'm off-base in my thinking, or talk about the way my trans character might present himself, y'know, the stuff he does that might cause someone to be like, "Okay, he's kind of strange." I talk about it a little, about how he's fanatical about sleeping apart from everyone in his group, even though in winter, since the only heat comes from fires, most people hang close together, and he's paranoid about people seeing him undress, but I thought the people on this board might have some other suggestions.

Orianna2000
09-06-2016, 07:35 PM
FYI, there exists a handy little device that allows women to pee standing up, like guys. There are different brands, just search Amazon for "pee funnel" and you'll find them. I bought one years ago to use while camping, but never actually had the opportunity to try it, so I can't testify as to its comfort or reliability. But I've heard good things about several of the different varieties. The one I have is called the pStyle, it's a lavender plastic funnel, of sorts, that's sort of squashed, instead of round. You stick it in your pants and pee into it, and the urine comes out the other end. If you're discreet with it, I'm sure it would help tremendously in passing for a male.

mayqueen
09-06-2016, 11:23 PM
People have been living as their authentic genders for thousands of years prior to medical intervention. Maybe use some pre-modern medicine sources to help flesh out how your character might experience his transition and accomplish it? (I can't think of any good books off the top of my head, but it might be worth investigating.)

Since gender is socially contextual, what your character has to do to transition is going to depend on what gender looks like in your post-apocalyptic society. If all the men are in pants and all the women in skirts, that's one thing, but if everyone's just trying to stay alive and no one cares, that's another. Has your society hung onto discriminatory ideas about trans people, or have they evolved? Meaning, is there a lot of stigma about being trans that your character will have to deal with, or is everyone pretty much accepting?

He'll have to manage his menstrual cycle, unless he got a Mirena or something before the collapse of modern medical society. :) And while self-administering hormones is dangerous, even in today's society it's pretty common thanks to medical discrimination. So I don't think it's inconceivable that your character could be doing that if he has access to the drugs.

L. OBrien
09-07-2016, 05:44 AM
FYI, there exists a handy little device that allows women to pee standing up, like guys. There are different brands, just search Amazon for "pee funnel" and you'll find them. I bought one years ago to use while camping, but never actually had the opportunity to try it, so I can't testify as to its comfort or reliability. But I've heard good things about several of the different varieties. The one I have is called the pStyle, it's a lavender plastic funnel, of sorts, that's sort of squashed, instead of round. You stick it in your pants and pee into it, and the urine comes out the other end. If you're discreet with it, I'm sure it would help tremendously in passing for a male.

If your character can't get ahold of one of these devices due to it being, you know, the apocalypse, it's still possible for AFAB people to pee standing up without a device (easy to learn, probably not. Doable, yes). Not that you're probably going to go into the mechanics of how your character pees, but it's worth noting that technology isn't necessarily a limiting factor on that front.

Also in terms of periods, its possible that a lot of teenagers in a post-apocalyptic setting might not be having regular periods since they're probably under a lot of stress, not getting adequate nutrition, and doing a lot more physical activity than they're used to, all of which can upset their normal cycle. If your character is dealing with regular periods, I imagine that the issue is going to be complicated by the fact that pads and tampons are going to become a limited resource pretty quickly.

If all of the characters are teenagers, the fact that he doesn't need to shave might make him look younger, but he wouldn't be the only guy who can't grow a lot of hair. I'm not sure if the perceived gap would diminish when he stopped shaving his body hair, since I imagine that most female characters would also stop shaving and it would cease to be a gender norm.

Beyond those considerations, I would say that what your character does depends on a few things. First, how concerned is he with passing? (Does he just want to be perceived as male, or is it important to him that he passes as a cis man? Not all trans people are interested in passing.) What are the prevailing attitudes of the survivors regarding trans people? (Especially since older generations tend to be more opposed to trans equality. What happens when they aren't there to shape the opposition?) Are there any notable social differences between genders that have emerged as a result of the crisis? And does he have anyone helping or supporting him? Particularly, other trans people?

frimble3
09-07-2016, 09:51 AM
Not really OT to the OP (what might give him away) but, as far as how people treat him, I imagine that if he's got useful skills, or is particularly hardworking and handy to have around, people will ignore minor 'slip-ups' and deliberately not notice things like how very private he is about relieving himself, etc.
I would think that in an apocalyptic survival situation, people are going to care less about appearances. They won't want him to leave, or be hurt or killed, if he's a valuable member of the group (despite any doubts they may have about gender).
And, depending on your scenario, he may not be the only female body presenting as male - it's likely that some cis-women are pretending to be men for safety's sake and practicality. Unless he admits he's trans, how many people will ask about his motives?

Menyanthana
09-15-2016, 07:18 PM
Not really OT to the OP (what might give him away) but, as far as how people treat him, I imagine that if he's got useful skills, or is particularly hardworking and handy to have around, people will ignore minor 'slip-ups' and deliberately not notice things like how very private he is about relieving himself, etc.
I would think that in an apocalyptic survival situation, people are going to care less about appearances. They won't want him to leave, or be hurt or killed, if he's a valuable member of the group (despite any doubts they may have about gender).
And, depending on your scenario, he may not be the only female body presenting as male - it's likely that some cis-women are pretending to be men for safety's sake and practicality. Unless he admits he's trans, how many people will ask about his motives?

One thing to keep in mind is that not only will many, many women/girls try to pass as male, even those who don't actively try will drop things such as make-up, shaving, etc., so simply not performing femininity won't help much with passing. Women who famously passed as male, like Mary Read and Anne Bonny, did so in times when people would see trousers and assume "male", while nowadays people look at a person in trousers and shirt and think "person, could be either sex".
You'd think people in an apocalypse setting would care less about appearances - but on the other hand, in politically unstable situations, a lot of males tend to rape, as they can get away with it. That would up the stakes for having to pass, both for the transgender male character and women who just want to be safe.


I'm at the moment working on a story of a woman who identifies as transgender male, but will eventually detransition. Does anyone have tips how I could foreshadow this development? I've read some blogs by detransitioners, but nothing of what they reported about the time when they identified as trans seemed really different from what people who continue to identify as trans report.

Ms.rachel
09-17-2016, 08:57 PM
Someone mentioned lack of facial hair as a problem, so could he tattoo on stubble. Though, depending on how in shambles the world is, the clothing and binding might be the most believable.

kuwisdelu
09-20-2016, 09:12 PM
Can I change my answer?

I'm planning a post-apocalyptic story and securing access to hormones will definitely play a role.

:)


I'm at the moment working on a story of a woman who identifies as transgender male, but will eventually detransition. Does anyone have tips how I could foreshadow this development? I've read some blogs by detransitioners, but nothing of what they reported about the time when they identified as trans seemed really different from what people who continue to identify as trans report.

Uhhh my first question would be why. There are so few positive portrayals of trans people, so what is the motivation for writing about a character who detransitions? And is the character trans but decides transition isn't for them, or are they cis and mistakenly thought they were trans?

I would be highly skeptical of blogs. A huge amount of the information online about so-called detransitioners are politically motivated and collected by people who are anti-trans and want to show that transition doesn't work.

Most trans people who return to living as their sex-assigned-at-birth do so because of social and familial pressures, non-acceptance, and societal abuse, hardship, and harassment, not because they desire to do so.