Friday, October 13, 2017

Face-Lift 1363

Guess the Plot

The Transgender Myth

1. If a transgender person is allowed to pee in a public bathroom, the world will end.

2. Paula is devastated when she realizes she can never get pregnant. Especially when she discovers the reason: She's actually a Paul.

3. Having spent seven years as a woman and then being changed back into a man, Tiresias is in great demand as the only person who can settle the argument of which sex enjoys sex the most.

4. The real story of Hermaphroditus. You won't believe what happens in chapter four.

5. What happens when you're born half minotaur and half centaur? Let's put it this way: you have to put up with a lot of bullshit and a lot of horseshit.

Original Version

Dear Agent

The Transgender Myth is the curious belief that there are but two distinct sexes, each with its own unique gender that defines specific abilities

Paula’s childhood was typical of most girls[,] without knowing [with one big exception:] her assigned sex was male. She dreamed of being a mom like her own mother in the glamorized media style of housewife in the 50’s. That changed when she was enrolled in a school that separated boys and girls, providing her with the realization that she was a boy, and soon, the harsh realization she was never going to be pregnant.

After two devastating relationship[s] with men, she discovered the love of another woman and her young child. As provider in the image of her father, she went on to have two more children in the traditional homemaker image of her mother. Tensions grew during the 28 year marriage until Paula was forced out of her home under allegations a transgender woman was unfit to be a mother. [How old were the kids when this allegation was made?]

Despite the overwhelming consensus that no judge would ever give her custody of her son, Paula was unwilling to abandon him. She represented her son’s interests as her own attorney in a four[-]year custody battle. [She had two children; why is this one son the only one at issue? Has the 2nd child reached adulthood?]

Isolation and the economic and emotional stress combined with threats from the court drove Paula into a near[-]suicidal depression. The love of her son prevailed. Paula regained custody while becoming the woman she had once imagined as a young girl. [Becoming or pretending to be?]

Whipping Girl took transgender women from the genre of Lesbian non-fiction into the realm of feminism. The Transgender Myth broadens that scope, challenging our perceptions of gender, invoking the complimentary [complementary] notion of gender put forth by The Feminine Mystique and asserting that men and women do in fact come from the same planet.

Inspired by Paula’s costly legal battle to retain custody of her son: a battle against social prejudice and rigid legal norms. She examines society’s gender norms within family relationships, creating a challenging perspective on the true meaning of gender equity.

The book has a central position in gender studies for its historical context and contemporaryview [2 words] of gender, examining the social, political, economic and legal impact on Paula’s life as a transgender woman. It evolves within the context of feminism, gay rights, and today’s transgender movement, while challenging many of the media representations. It is not a story about transition. It is a journey from blissful innocence, through fear and isolation, past denial and defeat into acceptance and triumph, examining the best and the worst of living in both genders.

This true autobiography is complete at 93,000 words with an attached appendix of a short play written and performed by me in 1999. I trust this story will appeal to your interest in LGBT narratives. My manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration.


This is a little long. Removing the red words will get it closer to a good length.

It's standard to summarize the story in present tense. No reason not to here.

Perhaps it's my ignorance of transgenderness, but if Paula's assigned sex was male, why was she having a childhood typical of most girls before she went to the school where she realized she was a boy?  

I'm not clear on what this sentence means: As provider in the image of her father, she went on to have two more children in the traditional homemaker image of her mother. Maybe it would be simpler to say: After two devastating relationships with men, she discovered the love of another woman, with whom she "fathered" two children. (I'm assuming she didn't give birth to the two children, as it was previously stated she was never going to be pregnant.)

If you haven't already, check out Manuscript Wish List. A lot of agents and editors are hungry for LGBT.


Mister Furkles said...

It's a book I'd never read: nobody murdered, no horses, no magic. Recognizing that, it may be a story many would like to read. Even so, the query makes it seem boring.

The purpose of the query is to make the agent or editor to want to read pages. So, spice up the description more. Give the reader a reason to want to know about Paula and to care about her dilemma.

It reads more like a synopsis than a query. Even an autobiography is a story.

St0n3henge said...

I agree. There's a story here, but the words are obscuring it more than bringing it out.
Start with EE's suggested edits to make it more clear. Then, re-post and we'll see what else it needs.

AMY said...

Sorry, this sounds like the classic After School Special - preachy and ready to Enlighten me. Nah, I just want to read a good story. This sounds boring as heck. What does this character DO, other than obsess about gender?

davefragments said...

The only transgender people I know have (from very early ages) known that they are the "other" sex from what their bodies are.

The one I witnessed go through Gender Reassignment Surgery told people that from the age of three or four he considered himself a girl and because his body was masculine, he tried to become that man. He was a married with children, a cave-diver, a marine, did lots of hyper-masculine things, but at some point, he ceased to believe that his gender matched his body. Last time I saw her, she was a quite attractive lady.
And for those out there with no personal experience, no person is happier than the person who transitioned to become wheat their minds always said they were and their bodies did not agree. It's a success like nothing I've seen with heterosexual people.

If this is about a dystopia or some alternate society where babies are assigned gender regardless of the genital equipment then i can see how that works in your story.
If this is set in the USA where some parents raised a boy as a girl for 7 or 8 years (or more, possibly) and then sent the child to school without having given the child some coping mechanism for that opposite gender years, then I'm not quite sure how this query describes that.

I do know the argument that "transgendered people are not fit parents" and I think that argument is political garbage. It is however, believed by a segment of the population. That is also being discussed in various transgender forums.

And that brings me to my biggest suggestion -- if you haven't already, talk to several transgender persons. You have to seek them out and earn their trust. Only then do they open up and talk.

Good luck with the book. There is a market out there for this type of story.

Anonymous said...

The confusion people are feeling here probably has something to do with the writing being... not as good as it could be. State clearly what you want to say.

And, as Samuel Goldwyn said, if you've got a message, send a telegram. By which he meant that fiction should tell a story, not teach a lesson.

khazarkhum said...

I admit that I am hopelessly confused by what you are trying to say. If you want to do a book on someone going through the process, fine. But as others here have said, don't turn it into a Heavy Message one, like those Godawful 'NOW!' novels about Today's Issues they shoved down our throats when I was growing up. I'm still scarred by those horrors.

St0n3henge said...

I believe part of the confusion is that it isn't written in first person. Generally, you're not supposed to do that in queries, but that's a rule that applies mostly to fiction. This seems to be an actual autobiography but it's written with such narrative distance it sounds too psychologically removed from the source material.

If this is a real autobiography it needs to be written with more immediacy. I'll give you an example.
Three years ago, my brother took his life in prison. It was the end of a long, arduous confinement that began when he was seventeen. I saw him just a few weeks before his suicide. The mentally ill, pale and physically exhausted man with angry red scars on his wrists resembled my brother almost as little as the black plastic box of ashes with his name on it that I carried out the mortuary. I realized I'd lost my brother a long time ago.

I could tell you all about it but it would be extremely painful. What you've written sounds like someone who is writing a newspaper article about the new Mayor of a small town. Conversational and almost bored.

It just doesn't work with the material. Is this an autobiography? If it is, you're going to have to get closer to the pain. If not, you're not selling me on this story being raw and real. It isn't meaningful if I can't get close.

Anonymous said...

The title sounds like it is non fiction and reading through the query I wondered if it were a biography rather than a fiction piece. If it is a biography, then I think the querying process is quite different.

I empathize with Paul/Paula's situation but as others have stated, a query needs to hook the reader in. At the moment the premise is clear - it's about the difficulties that a transgendered person faces in his/her life. But that's not enough for a plot.

Author, you're fortunate that editors/ agents are seeking this type of fiction. Don't blow it - follow EE's advice (the good man knows what he's talking about)and refine the query.

Unknown said...

Thank you.

Love the feedback