The Crux Between Social Issues and Storytelling

I am a writer. Always have been, always will be. And one of the things I love about writing (other than the character development and world-building and seeing your story come to life) is that it’s an instrument of changing. Stories challenge social norms, force us into transformative states, open our minds to endless possibilities. Reading The Help is more than watching the friendship grow between Skeeter and Aibileen; it’s a serious discourse about race relations and gender roles. Brave New World warns against chemical manipulation and the rejection of all emotion for fear of pain. Even children’s stories, such as Horton Hears a Who, challenge our every day notions and help us grow as human beings.

I aspire to be another such writer, who weaves in these revelations within the narrative of fantasy and science fiction. For example, as I go through and edit the first draft of The Midnight Tide, I’ve already started working on its sequel. The Amber Veil is the next step in Rhiannon’s journey, forcing her to make unlikely allies and face devastating truths about her origins.

One of these allies is Yuri, a royal assassin that assists Rhia and company on their travels. She’s strong, resourceful, deadly, and undeniably beautiful. She, also, happens to have been born biologically male.

I didn’t necessarily set out thinking, “Hey! I want to have a trans character!” Yuri was already trans in my mind; she just evolved naturally into that person. I want to stay true to the organic nature of her creation, but while treading carefully. Her being trans has nothing to do with her abilities, or the monsters they face, or the difficulties they endure. It’s just a matter of fact truth, like Rhia being a Caster or Gabriel being from Scacia.

Of course, transgender issues have recently come to particular light in the media, creating a firestorm of conflict. Having a trans character will likely be divisive, barring many from reading my novels on the basis of their own personal beliefs. And, it’s not my intention for my stories to be merely a soapbox, disregarding the narrative entirely. But, while I want to tread carefully through that maelstrom, I think it’s even more important that I stay true to the character herself.

Yuri is a woman that deserves to be read. As a writer and human being, I owe her that.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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