tagHow ToHow to Write Realistic Transsexual Characters

How to Write Realistic Transsexual Characters


Table of Contents

[1] Introduction:

[2] Who are transsexuals?

[3] Who are cross-dressers and transvestites?

[4] What are cross-dressers and transvestites like?

[5] How can I relate to my transsexual characters and get into their heads?

[6] What terminology should I use?

[7] What terminology should I avoid?

[8.1] What do trans women look like naked?

[8.2] What do trans men look like naked?

[9] How do trans people have sex?

[9.1] What are some details for trans women?

[9.2] What are some details for trans men?

[10] Closing Notes


[1] Introduction:

Since being on Literotica, I've been asked by several people for advice on how to write, approach, or even please transsexual women. I've also seen several people asking these questions of others or asking this question on the GLBT forum. Unfortunately, a great deal of the fiction available today (erotic or otherwise) portrays transsexuals in a completely unrealistic manner that can be very off-putting to a transsexual reader or anyone who is close to a transsexual person in real life.

I believe that everybody is entitled to their own fantasies, and everyone is entitled to write them down and share them if they want to; but I also believe it's valuable to know what parts of your fantasies are unrealistic. So with that in mind, I'd like to lay out some guidelines about writing realistic transsexual characters. Since this is being published on an erotic literature site, this guide will be written with erotic fiction in mind. The emphasis is on trans women, since I am a trans woman and that is what I know best, but I've tried to include helpful tips for trans man characters as well, which information comes from my knowledge of the several trans men who have been my friends and lovers in the past.

[2] Who are transsexuals?

Transsexuals are people who have been born with the physical characteristics of one sex but the internal gender identification of the other. A transsexual woman was born with a penis and will develop male secondary sex characteristics through puberty (facial hair, no breasts, etc) but this does not change her internal self-identification as a girl or woman. Similarly, transsexual men are men who are born with a vagina, and through puberty develop female secondary sexual traits (breasts, no facial hair, etc); but this does not change their own internal self-identification as men.

[3] Who are cross-dressers and transvestites?

A transvestite is a person who gains sexual pleasure from wearing the clothing of the sex with which they do not identify. Normally, this means a man who has a fetish for wearing women's clothing. Cross-dressers are people who wear clothing of the opposite sex for any other reason. Maybe they enjoy the shock value; maybe they just have odd tastes, but it doesn't change the fact that they identify as a man even in women's clothes (or vice versa).

Transvestites and cross-dressers ARE NOT TRANSSEXUALS. And transsexuals are generally not cross-dressers or transvestites. There's nothing wrong with writing a story about a cross-dresser or a transvestite, but please don't call them transsexual -- realize that there is a big difference.

It is also true that trans people sometimes begin exploring their own gender deviation through acts of cross-dressing. However, most cross dressers do not have underlying gender dysphoria. Additionally, not all transsexuals cross-dress or ever went through any phase of cross-dressing. Depending on a person's personal identity, they may or may not consider their first experience in clothing intended for their true gender rather than their assigned sex to be a cross-dressing experience. It's possible, but don't assume it's a universal or even a majority-experienced phenomenon for trans people.

[4] What are cross-dressers and transvestites like?

Couldn't tell you. I'm not either of these, I'm a transsexual. If this is what you're looking for, it's not going to be covered in this guide.

[5] How can I relate to my transsexual characters and get into their heads?

If you are a male author, imagine this: you catch a rare disease which causes your penis to collapse in on itself and form a vagina where you used to have a penis instead. Your facial hair all falls out, your muscles wither, and your chest grows fat deposits so that to someone who doesn't know you, they would probably guess you were a woman just from your appearance. Don't apply any mental changes; don't apply stereotypes about what you think you would be like "as a woman" -- you aren't changing who you are, you just have this odd disease affecting your body that confuses people who don't know about it.

Now, this is where many people get it wrong: what you are imagining is NOT what it's like to transition, it's NOT what it's like to be a trans woman, what you are imagining is a rough analogy for what it is like to be a trans MAN; aka: a man with a female body, someone born with female genitalia who seeks to medically and socially transition into being accepted as male. What would you want to do if you had this disease? Would you want to have your new "breasts" surgically removed so that people would stop seeing you as a woman? If a chemical treatment could get you back your strength and facial hair, wouldn't you do that? You never asked to be a woman -- you aren't a woman! It's just this disease that the doctors can try to fix as best they can. This is analogous to the mindset of a transsexual man; the process of having this disease "fixed" is analogous to a transsexual's "transition" process.

For a transsexual woman, just imagine the situation in reverse. For the female authors out there, imagine an opposite disease struck you -- your clitoris grows to an enormous scale and your vagina seals up; your labia grow into dangling, tender lumps -- people who see you undressed think you are a man. Your breasts wither away, your shoulders bulk up, and hair starts sprouting from your face. There may be a few people who would shrug and say "Well, I guess I'm a man now." but most would seek medical treatment to have these effects reversed. This is analogous to the experience of a transsexual woman.

Always remember that transsexuals are people first and foremost, and like most real people sex or specific sexual acts are usually not our highest priority in life -- try to write people, not sex objects. People can have sex too!

[6] What terminology should I use?

Transsexual:Someone who has an internal self-identification of their own gender that does not align with the physical sex they were born into.

Transsexual woman or trans woman: A woman born into a male body (Do NOT mix this up with "trans man!")

Transsexual man or trans man: A man born into a female body. (do NOT mix this up with "trans woman!")

Woman: This is a good term to use for a trans woman if there is no need to specifically call attention to the fact that she is trans. Even if she's been acknowledged as trans earlier in the story, there's no need to obsessively point it out. Just like if you had a blonde character you wouldn't have to refer to her as a "blonde woman" every time you mentioned her, it would just be belaboring the point. It can also be off-putting to any transsexuals reading your story if it seems you are using "trans" not as a descriptive trait but rather as a qualifier which indicates that you do not actually think of trans women as woman, or of trans men as men.

Man: Just as with trans women, if you're writing a trans man, there's no need to belabor the point. Just use "man" when it makes sense.

Two more good words to know:

Dysphoric: Refers to a transsexual person's feeling of the fundamental "wrongness" of their body, and the extreme discomfort associated with have a physical sex that does not match your true internal gender identity.

Cissexual, Cisgender, or just "cis": The opposite of Transsexual, transgender, and trans -- a person who's true internal gender identity matches their external sex. Most people are cissexual.

[7] What terminology should I avoid?

Avoid using qualifiers that would indicate you are thinking of this character as something other than their own identified gender. If you're writing about a trans woman, don't put "woman" in quotation marks as if it's only partially true, or strange or funny that she thinks of herself as a woman.

Along the same lines, unless you want to alienate any trans people reading your story, don't make a big deal about sex with a trans person being "wrong" or "perverse" or "taboo" -- at least not due to the person being trans; you could have the sex be "taboo" for some other reason, I suppose. Trans people are allowed to have sex like everyone else, talking about having sex with us like it is some dirty sin just because we are trans is going to make your trans readers feel that you must not have a very high opinion of us to think that it should be taboo just that we have sex lives at all.

Don't use inaccurate terms like "cross-dresser" if you are not describing a cross dresser. This indicates that you think of a trans woman as a man in women's clothing -- otherwise she would not be cross dressing. This is equally true of words like "gay" and "lesbian." A cis man with a trans woman is a straight pairing, to call it gay means you are thinking of the woman as a man, which she is not. Don't refer to a trans man as a lesbian, dyke, etc -- trans men are men, not extremely gay girls. The same is true for trans women -- don't call us homos or fagots or gays or anything like that, we are women.

As an aside on that last point, note that overlap is very possible -- many trans people are also gay. But remember, a gay trans woman is attracted to women. A trans women attracted to men is straight. Same is true in reverse for trans men. Some of us, of course, are bi- or pan-sexual as well.

Absolutely never use slurs or anything that belittles the person or their identity. Examples include: Tranny, She-male, He-She, Lady-boy, Trap, It (in lieu of he or she).

These words are all often the precursors to harassment or even violence. Any trans person reading your story will find this a huge turn off. If you are writing a story in which discrimination is central to the plot, you might have a bigoted character use these terms as an intentional slur -- but in your capacity as the author/narrator you should never refer to your own characters this way, nor should anyone who is intended to be friendly or supportive. Having someone use an offensive term out of ignorance and be corrected would be realistic, since most people do not have much exposure to this topic until they come into close contact with a transsexual friend, lover, or relative.

[8.1] What do trans women look like naked?

There are as many "right answers" to that question as there are trans women in the world. Always remember that like any other group of people, we are diverse. However, here are some tips about the transition life-process and what it does to trans women's bodies:

1. In early life, transsexuals will look like the sex they were born into. All transsexuals go through at least some portion of their life during which they try to conform to the gender they have been assigned before they come to terms with who they are and decide to try to live and be seen as a member of the opposite sex from that which they were born with. Some people realize this as early as grade school -- others don't decide to transition until later in life, some even after retirement. My personal experience is that many people at least take the first steps towards realizing they are transsexual when they hit puberty, and boys and girls start to differentiate more while their own bodies feel increasingly "wrong" as secondary sexual traits develop.

2. Once a person decides to live as the opposite sex, they will most likely want to try to be perceived that way by the outside world. The art of "passing" as it is called is complex, but it generally involves clothing, hairstyle, and sometimes makeup. Some people are lucky enough to be able to "pass" effectively without any medical treatments; however, many others are not so lucky. It is in this earliest phase of transition that a person is likely to look "wrong" or give off the "man in a dress" vibe or something similar. Like a teenager going through an awkward and uncomfortable phase of puberty and sprouting acne all over their face, this is something most transsexuals will be both distinctly aware of and distinctly ashamed of. Many choose not to try to "pass" at all until medical treatments have given them a better chance at not being noticed as transsexual.

3. In general, the first step in a medical transition is hormone therapy -- trans men will be given testosterone, whereas trans women take estrogen and a testosterone-blocker. This will cause them to develop many of the secondary sexual characteristics they desire, and for many people it is all they need to feel comfortable in their own skins and to pass reliably in public. Once on hormones, a trans woman will begin developing breasts. Her body hair will become sparser, and her skin softer, while her muscles become smaller and less pronounced. She will also generally become more "curvy" with fat being deposited more on her butt, thighs, hips, and breasts rather than concentrating so much on the stomach as in men.

4. Estrogen will not change a trans woman's voice or facial hair. Specific facial hair removal is usually needed, and can be one of the most important steps in passing as it gives you a much softer, more feminine looking face. The most common method of permanent hair removal is known as electrolysis, and involves burning the base of each hair with a small electric shock. The process is long (months of appointments with a specialist, at least weekly), painful, and expensive -- but generally very rewarding in terms of lessening dysphoria and improving a trans woman's confidence in her appearance and ability to pass. Laser Hair Removal is also effective in some cases, but not all. It's cheaper, but not universally successful, and the treatment can still take a year or more to complete. Some trans women undergo vocal training to sound more feminine, others are fine with the voice they've always had.

5. There are several surgical options open to trans women, the most common of which is referred to as "SRS" or "Sexual Reassignment Surgery." You can look up the details of how this is done on your own if you like -- but modern SRS is very effective at giving trans women a vulva that looks and feels very analogous to those of non-trans women, and removes the penis/testicles entirely. Others may choose to have their testicles removed, but keep their penis due to medical complications, monetary cost (SRS can run in the vicinity of $20k, having the testicles removed is only about $2k), or fear of losing sexual sensitivity. There are a variety of things which a plastic surgeon can do with the scrotal skin regardless of whether or not the penis is removed, including a labiaplasty to mimic the appearance of female external genetalia or even creating a sensitive lining for a neo-vagina. Even trans women who decide to have SRS often go without this option while on hormones for quite some time just to save up the money to afford it. Most doctors who perform SRS will also insist you be on hormones and living full-time as a woman for at least one year before performing SRS on a trans woman.

6. Other surgeries that are common include facial surgery for those who feel their face is too "mannish." Surgeries to reduce the Adam's apple are also common; but many trans women also decide to do without facial or tracheal surgery. Hormones generally leave trans women with fairly small natural breasts, which develop through the same biological process as other breasts and feel and look completely analogous, but many trans women choose to get breast augmentation to help them pass and avoid having A-cups all their lives. Many others decide they are fine with flat or small chests and choose not to do this.

7. No surgery today will change your overall skeletal structure, so trans women will tend to be tall compared to non-trans women, though obviously there is individual variation.

[8.2] What do trans men look like naked?

The overall process of discovery, hormones, and then surgery is similar for a trans man as it is for a trans woman. However, the effects of the hormones and surgeries are notably different:

1. Testosterone will cause a trans man to develop pronounced muscles like other men, leading to a more square frame and a less curvy look. It also leads to facial hair growth and a deepening of the voice. However, it will not do anything for their chest.

2. Breast removal or extreme reduction usually follows, giving trans men a flat chest. Prior to this, most trans men will choose to do what is known as "binding" -- using a tight under-garment that wraps around the torso to compress the breasts and make them less visible/pronounced.

3. SRS for trans men is less effective than it is for trans women, and more trans men than trans women choose to avoid it entirely -- meaning that, much their own annoyance, most trans men are left with female genitalia.

4. No surgery today will change your overall skeletal structure, so trans men will tend to be short compared to non-trans men, though obviously there is individual variation.

[9] How do trans people have sex?

As is probably obvious, people have sex in a wide variety of ways and it's based a lot on personal preference, so two different trans people may have very different turn-ons and preferences.

When a man and a woman, neither of them trans, decide to have sex, there is a very natural social-script for how it is "supposed" to go: The man climbs on top, puts his penis in the woman's vagina, and thrusts until he's done and then sex is over. Now obviously this isn't the only way that men and women have sex, but it serves as a good starting point for most people.

Trans people don't really have that. There isn't a default script for how sex should go. It's very hard to generalize about people's sexuality, but as a guideline there are two conflicting factors that come into play for all trans people, both men and women:

1. Sexual Pleasure. Obviously, having our genitals generally rubbed, squeezed, petted, licked, or otherwise manipulated tends to feel good, just like for everyone else.

2. Gender Dysphoria. This term refers to a transsexual's sense that their body is "not right" in that they feel they "belong" in a body of the opposite sex. While it's a discomfort people learn to live with, it's still not something people like to be reminded of. Overt reminders of how different our bodies are than what we would want or expect are uncomfortable, often upsetting, and usually a big turn-off that has the potential to stop sex dead in it's tracks. If you're writing a sexual fantasy, you may want to minimize this. Most erotic stories don't dwell on all the little things that in reality can make sex un-sexy when not handled properly. But with that being said, you don't want to stray too far or the amount of un-reality becomes jarring as transsexual readers can begin feeling dysphoric just from reading a story that ignores this too much.

These two opposing forces of pleasure vs. dysphoria need to be balanced for a transsexual to have a satisfying experience. You can avoid a lot of dysphoria by never undressing or touching, but obviously that's not much fun. Conversely, diving right in could cause too much dysphoria, and stop things short.

Remember that most trans people spend significant portions of their lives feeling the need to repress their true identities out of fear, and many are wary about revealing that they are trans at any point in their lives. As a rule of thumb, this leaves many trans people with less confidence and more sensitivity than their non-transsexual counterparts, at least until they've had the time to adjust to being accepted for who they are after a successful transition; and sometimes even then.

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