A friend recently forwarded me an interesting invitation from a publishing company seeking fiction submissions “by and about transgender people and culture.” I at-first filed the email away in that folder where I store projects that sound cool but that I know, deep down, I’ll never look at again until I’m frantically deleting in an effort to free space on my hard drive. My reality is that I’m never short of writing projects; and , while whimsical and fun, this project didn’t sound particularly worthy of a time investment when the payoff would be low in academic value when compared to journal articles and textbook chapters.
The idea resurfaced for me a few days later while attending a writer’s workshop. As I was contemplating the presentation of case study research that I’m placing in book form, it occurred to me how freeing a creative writing journey could potentially be. I began having fantasies of characters who would develop, and how they would move through their stories. I realized that, as much as I love my academic research and writing of the transgender liberation struggle, I was yearning for the literary creation of something that would liberate me from purely scholarly work. For the first time since high school, I realized that I could use creative writing as its own emancipatory process.
Thus, I begin my journey into the brave new world of fiction. I’m currently weaving my protagonist’s story, which interestingly, seems to reflect subtle aspects of my own character that I’ve located on a road I didn’t choose. What’s occurred to me in launching this effort is that fiction presents an opportunity for us to fully flesh out alternate routes in our own lives, fantasies that aren’t bound by normal time and space, or even discarded or disowned parts of self. My realization has been that writing fiction is in fact a greater possibility for self-exploration in that we live in each character we create. I’m not entirely sure what this means for Tara, my transsexual protagonist, but I can’t wait to find out because she’s already fascinating me and I’ve not yet written very much!
Stacee Reicherzer is a counselor, a faculty member at Walden University, and a private consultant with special interests that include: transgender issues in counseling, lateral (within-group) marginalization, and sexual abuse survival.