There are few things that I love more than a good, nuanced, well written female character. In particular I love a good, nuanced, well written trans female character but unfortunately that type of character is pretty hard to find. Throughout my life as a reader I’ve responded to this scarcity by taking some of my favorite characters and adding a little bit of my own imagination to create some fellow trans ladies I could relate to. Here are three of my personal favorites:
Beatrice: I first started thinking about a trans Beatrice while working on a summer camp production of Much Ado About Nothing; there was something in her determination and the pleasure she took in defying social convention that resonated deep within my bitter old heart. I love the idea of a 16th century trans noblewoman who doesn’t ask for those around her to accept her but instead declares her womanhood with such certainty that they have to acknowledge her. If Beatrice is a trans woman her strong will and ability to assert herself could come from a place of self-preservation, a necessary hardness that comes from a lifetime of fighting for recognition. I imagine Beatrice is so comfortable with her gender and her body that she sometimes doesn’t even shave her face because we all know that Beatrice doesn’t give a damn about other people and their boring, transphobic standards of womanhood or beauty.
Dr. Frankenstein: Ok this one may seem like a bit of a stretch but bear with me because this is one of my favorite headcanons. As much as I love Frankenstein every time I reread it I find myself mildly skeptical of Victor’s driving motives. I get that he’s consumed with an obsession for the glory and understanding the mystery of life itself but honestly I want something a bit more than a sad dude trying to defy nature. What if Dr. Frankenstein isn’t motivated so much by the nebulous concept of life but instead by a desire to understand the living flesh so that she can finally begin to make changes to her own body? In my headcanon she respects the monster she creates and together they work on harvesting tissue and organs from corpses, reanimating those bits, and then join them onto the bodies of trans people who are struggling with bodily dysphoria. A Victorian trans lady doctor, a monster, and trans folks with corpse body parts? That’s a story I would read.
Hermione Granger: When it comes to trans Hermione I will fight to the death to defend my headcanon of her. In my world she grows up with supportive parents but with peers that are far from kind. In response to their cruelty she turns inwards and to the library where she finds a community in books and learning. The arrival of her Hogwarts letter comes as a relief, not only does her life make sense (This does explain why her bullies are constantly tripping over nothing as they pull her long hair and mock her.) but she can get away from her tormentors. Although she’s terrified she approaches this new unknown factor in life by digging into the mountain of books she made her parents buy during their trip to Flourish and Blott’s. Hogwarts comes with a first for Hermione: other trans girls. Once a week she hangs out with her fellow trans lady students in a cozy lounge near the kitchens where they swap stories, joke around, and support each other over cookies and cocoa and under the watchful eye of Madams Pomfrey and Hooch, two women who are ferocious in watching out for their girls. With the support of her trans sisters and her new friends Hermione gains the self-confidence to step out of the abstract world of knowledge into the practical world of activism. Sure she can be a little too enthusiastic at times but her full-throated defenses of oppressed and marginalized communities comes out of her own first-hand experiences. There’s a strong element of wish fulfillment in my trans Hermione headcanon. When I was a teenager I would have killed to have access to the various magical cosmetics of the wizarding world. We know that Hermione used a magical hair straightener when she was fourteen and I can only imagine what other spells and potions she had access to that helped her banish facial hair and enhance breast tissue growth. I love the idea of a young trans girl who has been treated horribly by her classmates coming into a world where she’s not just accepted but where she now has access to magic that can make her dreams come true.