0

This question

https://writing.stackexchange.com/questions/55633/restrooms-for-characters[1]

inspires me to ask about a story idea I have been thinking about.

The problems of using a fake identity as a member of a different gender in a contemporary American high school.

And of course there are many thousands of contemporary American high schools and there are probably at least a few where the character would not have any problems with their deception, but It would be better if they could manage it in a more typical high school.

The premise is that a rather weird and eccentric ten year old boy has three separate strong reasons to take on a new identity, which I won't bother explaining. So, with the advice and cooperation of a few adults he plans to move to a new community and assume a new identity as a ten-year-old girl entering the seventh grade junior high school. Being highly intelligent it is easy for him to skip a grade, and he intends to only take about every other grade and graduate much sooner than usual, skipping several more grades.

HIs only reason for going to a school instead of studying on the internet is to have a chance of making at least one friend to replace the ones in the old school he had to leave.

Fortunately he is so cute that in his old neighbordhood he was often described as a beautiful little girl dressed like a boy, so if he dresses iike a girl he should not be suspected of being a boy, and everyone will think he is a weird and eccentric little girl instead of weird and eccentric little boy.

Obviously it would be wrong for him to use either the boy's bathroom or the girl's bathroom. I never used the boy's bathroom in six years at my high school, but my home was just a block away so I went home and used our bathroom during lunch break -I only ate in the school cafeteria once. But it might not be possible for him to go home during lunch break, and he might not be able to avoid using the bathroom all day.

I hear that some modern schools have restrooms for students who are not gender typical, and those should be small enough for only one person at a time, so he might be able to get permission to such such a bathroom.

When I was in high school such an impersonation would never work, because the boys showered after gym class, and presumably the girls also did. But I have read that in some modern high schools that is no longer the practice. If that is the case he can get away with his deception.

As I remember, kids changed into and out of their gym costumes for gym class. And of course if he did that with the girls he would see them in their underwear or less. Being a highly eccentric child, he prides himself on never doing anything wrong, and on his reputation, and if it is ever discovered that he is a boy, his reputation will suffer.

So maybe he will wear his gym costume instead of regular clothes all the school day instead of changing into it for gym class. Or maybe he will negotiate a reason to be exempted from taking gym class, perhaps on the grounds he will probably graduate before becoming full grown and thus will always be much smaller than his classmates.

Anyway, those are the main factors I can think of which might make such an impersonation impossible.

So how could my charcter handle those problems and are there any other big problems I haven't thought of?

Added 04-25-2021

One thing he could do is go to an all boys school which is going to becoming co ed in the future. So they plan to build facilities for future girl students a few years in the future.

So possibly the school might be persuaded to take him as a test to see how the boys might react to girls. Though of course they wouldn't realize just how much different he is from a typical girl or boy, or how little the school's experience with him will relate to their future experience with normal girls.

Thus he would be except from using the boy's locker room and showers, and the girl's locker room and showers would not exist yet.

6
  • I'm going out on a limb from the writing and guessing that your not an American nor is English a first language. Could you please give your first language, and nation of origin? This will help better address some of the differences between school systems. Also more for my curiosity than anything else, but why pick an American School instead of one you are aware of?
    – hszmv
    Apr 22 at 18:20
  • @hszmv if OP wants the setting of his story to be in US (or any other particular country), imho we should just respect this choice.
    – Alexander
    Apr 22 at 18:35
  • 1
    @Alexander: Nothing wrong with asking where the inspiration for a creative idea came from. I enjoy hearing non-American's perspectives on my own country.
    – hszmv
    Apr 22 at 18:37
  • 1
    Just to clarify, this is a boy who wants to pretend to be a girl for "reasons", not a trans girl? I would be very, very, veeeerrrrry careful about this. Trans people really don't need more stories about cis people pretending to be a different gender and "fooling" everyone into believing it. Apr 23 at 6:47
  • @hszmv I happen to be an American, and I went to high school there long ago. But Iwonder how much things have changed in high schools since then, and I tought that asking here would be a lot safer than asking random high school kids. Apr 25 at 18:38
1

Struggling to pass as a gender that does not match one’s birth sex is a problem that real people face. The key for you is to research what that experience is like. Then, do it justice.

The most helpful keyword for your research is “transgender” or another closely related term such as “gender nonconforming”, “non-binary” or “gender expansive”. (It doesn’t particularly matter here what your character identifies as, though finding an accurate label can only help with your research.)

There’s a lot of resources out there describing how this is approached from all angles in the real world: what the school does, what the parents/guardians of the student do, how the student themselves handles it, and how their peers react. It’s likely as important for you to research the approaches that make it both easier and harder for the student.

A good starting point would be the Gender Support Checklist for Transgender and Non-Binary Students, which lists relevant questions that school administrators will need to consider to best handle such students. You may not be able to answer the questions at first, but it will help you determine what questions you’re likely going to need to answer.

It will also be helpful to read A Guide for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, which is to inform the student of their rights and how to navigate the school system.

Statistics like those found in the Gender-Expansive Youth Report are also helpful to get an idea how how likely certain problems are for students like this.

I would also suggest getting in touch with people with a similar age/sex/gender to your main character. (They exist!) Learn about their experiences. See what their feedback is on your writing.


You should also consider how your idea fits into the wider picture, literature and media and society as a whole. What you’re describing is a serious issue for many of those who face it, sometimes even to the point of life or death. It’s also a subject that the media has been criticized for portraying in a hurtful manner. Think about it: What messages do you want to send with your work? Are you sending only the messages that you want to send?

How you describe the character in your question resembles the trope/stereotype that the paper Reel Gender calls the “transgender deceiver”, which are characters that, despite not always identifying as trans, are “trans images”, and send messages to audiences about trans people. Read the criticism of this type of portrayal and ask yourself the hard questions, such as: Does your portrayal of your character send the message that trans people are deceptive (and therefore act unethically)? Then, adapt as necessary.

0

I'm delighted that you thought my question was inspiring so here my answer: Impossible is a challenge that you need to break. You could skip the formality and go right ahead for your main character to request private space from others.

The main thing that you need for your plot was to know, does he like being known as a girl or a boy? If he wants to be a girl, gender transfer would be his goal. If a boy, he might want to prove his gender by doing stand-out actions.

I hope this was helpful. I wish I could be much more accurate with my meaning.

Edit: Use shower curtains and stalls.

2
  • I have tough tof another possibility and added it to my question. Apr 25 at 19:01
  • Why don't you change the settings to having at least a private space that is specially made for him? Apr 25 at 21:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.