On the Inside


Technical Aspects
Story length: 15,700 words/43 pages double spaced
Voice: First person, present tense
Genre:Speculative Fiction
Copyrighted: 2012
Story information
Main character: Lihill
Character description: A transgender girl assigned male at birth, born to a polytheistic culture that strongly segregates its males and its females.
Supporting characters: Younger sister Cyani, best friend Mymei, father Alet, unnamed mother, unnamed grandmother, wise woman Teinan, various other religious teachers and leaders and community elders, a few classmates, a couple of Cyani's friends, an incidental uncle and cousins.
Setting:An invented polytheistic Pagan culture, hinted to be agrarian and apparently situated near a significant body of water.
General Plot
Lihill feels that she's a girl from the moment she's old enough to express it, but it's undeniable that she has what's interpreted as a boy's body. In her sex-segregated culture, she's treated as a boy and made to get a boy's education, most notably focused around embracing gods instead of the community's goddess and adopting an elemental alignment consistent with male identity. She'd love to attend the girls' troop and form a bond with the element Water, but as a boy she has to settle for studying Air. Though her best friend and her sister seem sympathetic and treat Lihill kindly, even including her in traditionally feminine activities sometimes, they don't truly understand her situation, and her parents won't accept that she isn't a boy in her head. After repeatedly failing to do what's expected of her as a boy, the family finally consults a wise woman who's the first to recognize that Lihill must be a girl on the inside. But she's still faced with many misconceptions about her gender in a world that's never heard of someone like her, and is consistently bothered by the fact that saying who she is has never been enough.
Information, inspiration, and other notes
I've been sympathetic to transgender rights for a very long time, and the thing that strikes me as the most frustrating is that people describing their lived experience are so often dismissed and told they're not qualified to describe their own feelings. So many people don't understand that for transgender people, it isn't that they "want to be" the sex they transition to or are "confused" about their gender or that they just don't like their bodies. The concept of having one gender identity but going through the wrong puberty is especially terrifying to me, which is probably why it came out the way it did when I was writing it. I was a little disappointed that because of the format of the story, nearly every bit of it focused on Lihill's gender, and if it were a novel I'm sure I would have fleshed her out as a person a little more, but I hope I hinted at enough detail of her personality and her world for people to get a sense that there's more unsaid beneath the surface. The story was chosen for publication and will be available to read in 2015.
Related Art: [Profile sketch of Lihill at age 8] [Full-body sketch of Lihill at age 10] [Color anime style doodle of Lihill, Cyani, and Mymei playing house]

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