I’ve been asked many, many times over the past few years when I’m going to “introduce a trans character” to Girls With Slingshots.
I never introduce a character with the sole intent of exploring - or exploiting - the label that they most likely represent to their acquaintances, but if a character happens to fit into a label, it'll be expressed eventually. Darren likes dudes, so he's gay. Thea and Mimi like chicks, so they're lesbians. Erin's not interested in sex, so she's asexual. Jamie is whatever (my personal favorite, but I'm biased).
That said, I haven't felt driven to purposefully write about a trans character, for a multitude of reasons:
I don’t know much about trans issues, and I’m not going to write about a topic so massively underrepresented (or worse, misrepresented and mocked) in popular culture if I don’t feel competent enough to do so properly.
I only know one or two trans people in real life; I’ve had very little real-life experience with trans issues.
I’m extremely cis-gendered; it’s hard for me to understand the emotions that are caused by being born one sex and feeling another, beyond a few fleeting desires. (“God DAMN where can a girl get sneakers her size that don’t have fucking PASTELS in them??” “It would be so much easier to jerk off if I had a dick.” - you know, the usual cis tomboy woes.)
Some of my characters *COUGH*HAZEL*COUGH*CANDY*COUGH* can be a little insensitive, and I don’t want to avoid putting a trans character in the same room with them solely to keep from offending everyone and giving us all migraines by way of violent facepalms. (I shudder to imagine the ignorant questions Hazel would ask a trans character, considering her past.)
For that matter, I can be a little insensitive myself (as my closest friends, the most patient and tolerant humans on earth, would confirm). Particularly when it's my job to make people laugh.
But, most importantly, I don’t want to add a trans character for the sole purpose of adding a trans character. They’d have to have their place in the GWS universe first, be added as a human being, and just HAPPEN to be trans.
(For a good example of trans characters done well, see Questionable Content’s character Claire. Jeph is good people.)
That said, I got a few kind strangers to volunteer their faces for cameos in Monday's strip, and it turns out Ms. Rainbowhair happens to be - to my surprise - openly trans.
I included a trans character in GWS by accident, because I included a human being.
If I’m ever going to include a trans character in the strip, it’ll happen like that. :)
I had a lot more written for today's post, but it was all fueled by the comments under the blog the other day, and Lydia replied to everything exactly the way I would've, like I asked her to borrow my brain while I slept or something. So, if you want more answers to related questions, you can peruse these comments, if you promise to play nice. :)