Trans Joy is a blog series celebrating the positive side of trans experiences, in an attempt to bring some balance to contemporary trans discourses. This week I’m talking about casual trans representation.
Trans visibility is a complex topic, one which I’ve explored several times. Good trans representation is by its nature diverse and varied. I want content which addresses the struggles of being trans, and the journey of self-discovery associated with coming out as trans. But trans characters can also simply exist, and have an identity other than being trans.
Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors. Dwarfs are gendered as male regardless of sex in the Discworld, some rebel against this and identify as female. There’s a clear trans analogy there. But the example that comes to mind is Pepe, a non-binary dwarf character in Unseen Academicals. Pepe ‘s partner describes them as “Pepe is … Pepe. And there is no changing him, as it were, or her. Labels are such unhelpful things, I feel.” I first read that years before I realised I was trans. FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON that character stuck with me.
Another example is Questionable Content, a slice of life webcomic which unapologetically includes trans characters without making it a big dramatic plot point. One of the central cast is a trans woman whose dating a straight man and neither of their identities has ever been questioned or disrespected within the webcomic. (I also slightly love the author for drawing a bong which says “Fuck Terfs” in response to critics xD)
This more casual representation can be wonderfully affirming, you can have trans characters who are not defined by their transness or their trauma. It’s important to see representation of important trans issues in the media we consume, but it can also be exhausting. Sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy content where trans characters are, first and foremost, people.