A Thought on Gender-Bending

This is an odd subject. Still, I’m going to give it a try.

The reason I have been considering this is due to some progress with the novel. As I am home, I have been discussing with people whether I should change a certain character’s gender. The character has been female for some time, but I am considering changing her to a male and a male character to a female. Oh, the things that go down in the second draft…

So it has been going on in my head, this question… why? Why should I change their gender and when is it necessary to do so?

It has come to my attention that I may not need to do so at all. I started considering it because the story I am writing is based on another story. If I were to follow the same storyline, it would force me to either change the love interest’s gender or keep it the same. The second option did not seem so much uncanny as much as it seemed unnecessary. But then I began to look at this from another angle.

Was it the romantic interest that was keeping me from changing gender, or was it something else? Was it perhaps the character themselves?

I had always felt that something was missing from this character. I had an idea of this character when I began, but it never seemed to work. I now worry that I had become so absorbed by making a realistic female that I actually made her unrealistic. I had heard a saying that a truly complex character works as both genders. I’ve never met a person who fits every single stereotype for their gender. That’s because complexity makes things not always line up evenly. The human brain is a maze, not just a straight path.

At first, that sounds strange. I think to myself, well, wouldn’t translate perfectly as a female! Certain characteristics just wouldn’t translate! Does that make me not complex? Or would they? Maybe things don’t have to translate directly. When translating the English phrase “you’re welcome” to Spanish, you get “de nada”, or “it’s nothing”. It may not have exactly said “you’re welcome”, but it’s the same idea. So it goes with personalities. This means that masculine men can translate to girls and girl women can translate to guys.

Changing a masculine male to a female doesn’t necessarily make her a tomboy. Doing the same with a girly female doesn’t make the boy that comes of this feminine. A motherly woman can be translated as a protective man. A brawny guy can be translated as a girl that doesn’t think so much with book smarts.

It was due to all this thinking, I have officially decided that I will separate the second draft. The one side will have this character as a male, the other as female. And perhaps through translating this, I can make a more complicated character out of both.

But, after all, this is just the ravings of a mad scient… I mean… amateur writer… ahem. I swear there is no secret lab in my basement. Nothing to see here.

So what did you guys think? Any further ideas? Any refutations?