Gender Fluidity in Transgression

Friend and author Theo Fenraven stopped by to give us the scoop on his latest book Transgression. You can also read his original short story The Elevator only on this blog. 

Transgression 300x469Last I heard, Facebook offers fifty-seven different gender choices when you sign up for an account. This change went into effect after I opened mine, so I went back and checked “gender fluid.” You’ve heard the saying, right? “Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears.”

Most days, I am happily male, but there are others when I want to celebrate my female side by putting on something girly or painting my nails. There is makeup in my bathroom cabinet, and I enjoy wearing it. I can walk in heels, but I don’t like them and currently don’t own any. I do like how skirts let the air circulate between my legs. I’d wear them more often if society didn’t frown on it so much. Well, “frown on it” is putting it mildly, isn’t it? I’d get the shit beat out of me if I went out in public like that.

After all this time, it’s nice being able to label what I am, but at the same time, it’s not required. The label, or lack of it, doesn’t change who I am, and I’ve always known I travel freely along the gender curve.

I announce being gender fluid carefully, choosing who to confide in, never knowing how it’s going to be received. Most people don’t know what it means, and I have to explain. They almost always look puzzled, then usually change the subject. “Hey, what’d you think of the game Sunday?”

I’m exaggerating. It’s unlikely I’d ever tell a football fan I’m gender fluid. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d probably get the shit beat out of me. Bloody noses and black eyes aren’t a good look for me. Why take the chance?

And that doesn’t bring me to the topic of discussion, which is my book Transgression, but let’s talk about it anyway. I first published in the m/m genre. I’m comfortable there, and I’m pretty good at it. I know and understand men, and I like writing about them.

So when a character named Sky Kelly popped up in my head one day and insistently whispered sweet nothings in my ear, I ignored her. I’m not ashamed to admit the thought of writing a female, and a male-to-female transsexual to boot, scared the shit out of me. I knew nothing about transgender people, and I was afraid I’d let Sky down, not understand her well enough to do her justice. Zach, the male bisexual? I “got” him right away. I knew what motivated him and how he felt and what was important to him, but Sky… lovely Sky was a mystery.

I kept telling her to go away. I never got mean or rough with her because hey, she’s a lady, but turns out she had balls of steel. She wouldn’t leave me alone, so I started doing some research. Just looking around, ya know? And I got more and more interested in telling her story. I’ve also learned I do my best work when I’m scared to death. I guess it’s the challenge. I’m always up for learning something new, especially when it makes me want to run away.

So I took her on, wrote her story, and didn’t regret it for a moment. Tapping into my gender fluidity helped. The more I wrote the character, the more I “got” her. I’m pleased with the result and hope you will be, too.


Book Blurb:

Zachary Fox can’t sleep.

His acting career is taking off. Public recognition is picking up. Now more than ever, he understands how key reputation is to his success. But his relationship with his co-star, Kris—arranged around publicity rather than genuine feelings—is suffocating him. She once understood his needs, but her demands are beginning to grate with every shrill order she gives.

Zach has a secret. The breakout star of a new medical series, he’s been hiding his orientation from co-stars, friends and family, the studio, and his fans.

On the recommendation of a friend, Zach seeks out Sky Kelly, a well-connected herbalist whose concoctions are natural magic, as is her stunning beauty. On the surface, she has it all: her own house, a thriving business, and good friends, but the things she had to do to get there are a time bomb ticking away, and when it goes off, she’ll be teetering on the edge of a chasm that can put her right back where she started.

Sky has secrets. Like, she’s got a Y chromosome and the original equipment to go with it. Like being a highly paid escort. Like, if Zach is seen with her in public, it could ruin his career. Like someone becoming so obsessed with Sky, that obsession threatens them both.

Secrets… everyone is hiding something, and instead of finding The One, it could be The End.

Author Bio:

Theo Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is hot and sunny all year long. Connect with him on Twitter.

  • Kari Higa

    Hi Brandon. This is my first time posting on your blog but I’m a fan. Theo, I enjoyed Transgression tremendously. Skye is one of my favorite characters and I think of her often. I recently saw a 20/20 segment about an 11 year-old male-female transgender child. I was amazed by her story and her incredibly supportive family. Sadly I know this is not the norm. Brandon, I read your Fatger’s a Day post and I agree that a parent has to love his/her children unconditionally. I have three children and I cannot imagine not loving them for who they are. I hope that someday all kids will have famies like Jazz. Thank you both for thought -provoking posts.

  • Helena Stone

    Transgression was one of my favourite books last year and, it is a story that still pops into my mind regularly, despite having read numerous books since then. I love it when a book teaches me something I feel I should have known to begin with and opens my eyes and mind.
    I was going to say that this may be one area where girls have it easier than boys but saw you said the same in an earlier response. Of course us girls won’t have found complete freedom until we can walk around bare-chested should we want to 🙂 but we do have a lot more options when it comes to our appearance than boys.

    • fenraven

      If females strutted around with bare chests, I think most men would get over it pretty fast. 🙂 A friend suggests it’s the competition with other women that would be the problem; he was speaking about size.

  • Beverley Jansen

    I think I may have mentioned that I loved Transgression and I’m sure my review might have mentioned it too. It is a brave novel and with a great deal of subtlety I identify more with gender fluid, although I’m unhappy with labels because with labels come boxes and expectations. I love the thought that you have days to be feminine, and hope for a day when we can all express our ‘gender for that day’ without anyone thinking anything of it.

    • fenraven

      It’s easier for females to express gender differences. No one looks at them funny if they wear pants or even a tie, but let a male don a skirt and all hell breaks loose!

  • Tom Chicago

    thanks for the revelation. never. blend .in, ♥♥

    • fenraven

      Doing my best!

  • Jaycee Edward

    Kilts! Yes….kilts! I loved Transgression. It was a very thought-provoking book for me. It opened my eyes on a couple different topics, including cross dressing. Awesome book.

    • fenraven

      You’re probably wondering if I have pairs of lacy ladies panties… Not gonna tell ya. Heh.

      • Jaycee Edward

        Wasn’t wondering. LOL! After reading Transgression, I would totally get it if you do, though! 🙂

  • Kathy

    Outstanding interview!! There are a lot of things I don’t know either, and depending on the company, I may not feel I can ask. Transgression taught me things that I’ve never been exposed to, made me stop and think, and for that it will always be one of my favorites. Plus…..Theo Fenraven is an incredible author, so I always know, I will learn something new.

    • fenraven

      Thanks, Kathy. Appreciate the comment!

  • Allison Hickman

    I have hope that someday, sooner than either of us expect it, you will be able to wear skirts and makeup and anything else that you want to out in public without fear.

    You already know how much I love Sky and Transgression but for others that are reading this, you need to read this book.

    • fenraven

      Thanks for the comment, Allison. I hope I live long enough to see everyone free to express wherever they are on the gender curve.

  • Ardent Ereader

    Hi Theo, I enjoyed your post and I like how you explained your thought behind picking gender fluid. With regard to skirts, hmmm I guess if you move to Scotland you could wear Kilts. I loved your novel Transgression, it was the first of your books that I read. I became so engrossed in the lives of your characters I didn’t want the story to end.

    • fenraven

      I wonder if they sell kilts here?

      • Jaycee Edward

        Yesssss. They dooooo.

    • fenraven

      So glad you enjoyed the book. One day I hope to be brave enough to stride down the street wearing my favorite skirt.

      Always wanted to visit Scotland. 🙂

      • Ginny Farnsworth

        I don’t think there is anything femimine about the kilt though, apart from having to be a little bit lady like about the way you sit, or risk giving some unsuspecting soul a bit of an eye full (You would, of course, need to wear it properly) But I don’t think I’ve seen a man that doesn’t look good in a kilt, whatever his age or size.

        And yes, come to Scotland, it’s a stunning country!

        • fenraven

          It’s on my list of countries to visit before I die. 🙂