Thursday, January 29, 2015

Geek Out Collection Tour: Alden Lily Reedy's Manifest (Trans)

If you Google 'LGBT bible verses', all the results on the first page, whatever their point, are about homosexuality. Half of them use the term 'gay'. The same goes for the second page. It takes until the third for the word 'bisexual' to appear. Part of this seems to be Google thinking that 'lgbt' and 'gay' are synonyms for each other, but I think it also reflects how people tend to think about queer issues as they relate to religion: here, more than usual, the trans people get forgotten.

Now, when using the right search terms, there's no end of argument back and forth about what the Bible says about transsexuality. But while I've read plenty of LGB stories where religious conflicts at least merited a mention, before writing Manifest, I personally had never seen a story where a transgender character struggled with their religious beliefs, Christian or otherwise. In real life, though, it's a problem for many people, even if the end result is often leaving their religion.

In Manifest, the source of much of the anguish of the main character, Chris, is her perceived conflict between her emerging identity as a transgender girl and her dearly-held Christian beliefs. I am not religious myself, but I do know queer people who are. My best friend, for example, is a Catholic and also bisexual. He gave me plenty of advice when I started writing Manifest. I had another friend invite me to an inter-faith discussion on homosexuality and religion that included Christians, Jews, and Hindus.

Trans people usually have enough to worry about without adding religion in to the mix. It varies from person to person, but we worry about our bodies, how other people perceive us, what our futures hold, and all kinds of things. Adding the worry about endangering one's eternal soul or going against the word of God to the mix - that isn't easy.

Chris eventually learns to accept herself without giving up her religion. The journey to that isn't smooth, of course, but she makes it through okay. Along the way she picks up enviable sewing skills, creates some awesome costumes, and even finds love for herself. Maybe the solution she finds isn't the one I would have chosen, but it's the road she - and many others - has picked.

About Manifest:

The very last thing Chris expects when he's forced to take sewing lessons is to enjoy them. Or for sewing to lead him into the world of cosplay, and a friend with whom he begins to cosplay in earnest—and who convinces him to try dressing up as female characters.

He certainly doesn't anticipate the realizations that cosplaying stirs—realizations that could cost Chris not just his best friend, but his family as well.

Manifest can be bought at Less Than Three Press,  and is part of LT3's GeekOut collection

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