Hi guys, we have Francis Gideon popping in today with his upcoming young adult transgender release The Santa Hoax, we have a briliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
The Santa Hoax
When Julian Gibson realizes he’s transgender, he doesn’t think anything has to change. His parents and friends still call him Julia and think he’s a girl, but so long as Julian can still hang out with his best friend Aiden and read sci-fi novels with his dad, life seems pretty good.
Then high school happens. Aiden ditches him, and a new girl, Maria, keeps cornering him in the girls’ bathroom. A full year after discovering he’s transgender, Julian realizes life changes whether you’re ready for it or not. So Julian makes a deal with himself: if he can tell his secret to three people, it is no longer a hoax. What happens during his slow process of coming out leads Julian down odd pathways of friendship, romance, Christmas shopping, random parties, bad movies, and a realization about why kids still believe in Santa—it’s sometimes better than discovering the truth.
My young adult novel entitled The Santa Hoax comes out with Harmony Ink Press on December 1st. This title is my first YA with the DSP people and it’s also my first YA trans romance. I’ve written other trans romances in the past, but writing a YA title gave me a new set of circumstances and challenges to overcome that I’d like to blog about today.
The main protagonist, Julian, is a trans man who is still in the beginning stages of coming out. He knows who he is and who he likes (identifying as bisexual, mostly, after he falls in love with his old best friend Aiden and his new best friend Maria), but he’s still overwhelmed by the idea of telling people everything. Coming out as gay, bi, or lesbian is never easy, especially because it always happens more than once. Being trans, though, provides a new set of parameters to navigating a coming out story for me as an author–mostly, through pronouns, names, and point-of-view.
I wrote this story from a third-person limited perspective, focusing behind Julian. Julian sees himself as a boy, so I’ve written his thoughts from that perspective and referred him by his chosen name and pronouns. This was easy enough to do, but what this stylistic choice ends up meaning is that other people–like his mother, like his friend group–end up referring to him as Julia and she/her when around him.
This is deliberately jarring for a narrative, but I thought it was crucial to tell the story this way. So many of the YA trans books I’ve read try to get around the pronoun issue by simply telling the story from the first person perspective, and that works in a lot of cases. It adds a human element to the story, especially when the trans character isn’t sure about their identity. From a first-person perspective, the reader gets to watch the discovery process, which can be illuminating (and educating) for those who aren’t transgender.
The thing is, most trans people I’ve ever met (and I work in trans studies at my university and am trans myself), are almost never unsure about who they are. They may be confused about what their feelings mean, especially since our culture does not understand gender identity, but as soon as they’re given a word like ‘trans’ and have it explained, they know that this fits with them. And they almost never waiver in that conviction (as most cases of de-transition are over-emphasized in medical journals and not standard). I once had a therapist who specialized in trans clients reframe any doubt or confusion to her patients as such: if you think you may be trans, you probably are because cis people don’t spend this much time Googling ‘am I trans if…’ or losing sleep about their gender. Cis people just know from somewhere inside that they’re cis, so trans people should be able to tell in that same, instinctual way as well.
Julian is like that. As soon as he realizes there is word for his confusion, he grabs that word and identifies with it. Because he is sure of himself, I wanted the narrative to reflect that through the use of his chosen name and pronoun from page one. But since all stories need conflict, he had to struggle with something, so I made the outside world the one that was confused. It’s not that Julian is trapped in his body–like the typical trans narrative we hear–it’s that he’s trapped in people’s perceptions of his body. So when people call him his birth name or he’s referred to as a girl by his classmates, the story itself can feel claustrophobic to mimic that ‘trapped’ feeling. Since we’re on Julian’s side from page one, though, we know that the world is in the wrong, and must catch up.
Julian’s way out of those claustrophobic perceptions is to finally come out. And here is where the story really begins: Julian concocts a plan to tell three people he’s trans by Christmas, and slowly puts his plan into action–while also shopping for the perfect gifts and falling in love. The excerpt I’ve included here is one of those gift-giving segments, but it’s also when he finally tells his friend Josie his real name.
I really hope you enjoy the book if you pick it up! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope it helps to humanize many trans issues that can seem too difficult when only framed in news headlines while also providing a fun romance story. Thank you!
“Now your turn,” she said. “How did you stop believing in Santa?”
Julian shrugged. The familiar sensation of dread in the pit of his stomach returned. He wanted to push it away but didn’t this time. For once. “When I was younger, I realized my dad was dressing up as Santa. I saw his watch—the watch my mom had given him that year, complete with engraving—and I realized that he was pretending to be Santa. When I asked him about it later, pointing out the watch, he couldn’t lie to me. He told me it was just a game and that everyone, really, was pretending to be Santa. It was supposed to be fun, but the presents stopped appearing under the tree as marked from Santa that year.”
“That’s kind of sad,” Josie said.
“You didn’t get presents one year!” Julian said. “I still got them. They were just marked from Mom and Dad after that. I’m just… whining here.”
“Hey, this isn’t the Oppression Olympics. That sucks for you because it was your actual belief being challenged and taken away. Mine was just about money. I knew I was in the right. But you just felt… slighted, I guess. You didn’t have a choice to believe anymore, whereas I just thought Santa was a dick before I figured it out. Am I making sense?”
“I guess so. I was like, eleven, so really, it was about time for me too.”
“Yeah, I guess most kids become little detectives then and try to figure it out. I mean, if it takes Jules Verne to get around the world in eighty days, then Santa in one night is ridiculous.”
Julian smiled. “I like that book.”
“You like every book.”
“No, I really like that author too. Jules. It’s kind of like my name.”
“Ah, yeah, I see that. Jules and Julia. Makes sense.”
Julian paused. His list came back to him in his mind. Three people. Tell three people and then it’s real. Then you won’t have to stop believing if you look too closely. Mr. Singer was almost there, but maybe Josie could be his first real one.
“No, not Julia. I… I always wished my name was Julian. That way, people calling me Jules will think of Jules Verne. And I could be a sci-fi writer, instead of a robot.”
“Oh. Oh.” Josie paused, her mind seeming to put the pieces into place as Julian privately hoped for the best in his mind. “Wait. Why don’t you dress like you did in your school picture?”
“Because I hated the hair,” Julian said. “I hate long hair so much. It looks good on you or Maria or Hannah, but not on me.”
“No, I meant the shirt. I’ve never seen you in a collared shirt before. It looked like it belonged to a suit.”
“Yeah!” Julian said.
After getting off his bed, he moved to his closet and dug out the full suit from the back. He held it up to show Josie, who grinned.
“Yeah, that! Why don’t you wear that anymore? You would look good in it.”
“Because everyone thinks girls shouldn’t wear suits,” Julian said, then took a breath. “But I’m not a girl.”
“Oh. Oh,” Josie repeated. “I get it.”
“Yeah, I think so, anyway. Hold on a sec.”
Julian’s heart skipped as Josie got off the bed and walked out of his room, pulling the door shut behind her. What have I done? Is she gone now—and going to tell the whole school about me?
A knock quieted his thoughts. He knew it was Josie on the other side of his bedroom door, but why was she doing this? He walked over and opened the door. She stood outside with a smile on her face.
“Hello,” she greeted. “Now, pretend you’ve never met me before and you could introduce yourself all over again. But this time, we’re like—in a Renaissance fair. Yeah. So, if I tell you I’m Josie Morales, fourteen years old, and here playing a duchess, how do you answer?”
“Hello,” Julian said, stepping forward to meet the hand Josie stuck out. “I’m Julian Gibson, fifteen years old, and here playing a duke. Or a prince. Or something. Anything.”
“So long as it’s a guy?”
Julian nodded, repeating feebly. “So long as it’s a guy.”
“Then it’s nice to meet you, Julian,” Josie said, shaking his hand.
When she sat back down on the mattress and then began to talk animatedly about really going to a Renaissance fair because she was super into dragons, obviously, Julian couldn’t say anything in return. All he could do was listen as his mind still adjusted to what had happened. There was no drama. Nothing like that at all.
And now he was halfway there.
Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante. He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal.