As part of preparation for my novel Boy & Girl I collected photos related to gender ambiguity on a Pinterest board (*). It was not easy to find suitable material. For some reason, many males who dress as females feel a need to exhibit their masculinity in a way that is not suitable for the wider audience. Some commentators maintain that photos of ‘traps’ (crossdressers who could pass as female) are only valid if there is a photo proving they have a penis (**). Others go in for derision which doesn’t fit with the preoccupations of Boy & Girl either. Peter, one of the main characters in the story, wanted to look like a girl not parody them.
In Boy & Girl, Peter struggles with his desire to dress as a girl, at a time when such behaviour was seen as homosexual which in turn was illegal in Britain. Both in Boy & Girl and in the subsequent In Search of Lost Girls, Peter tries to come to terms with what cross-dressing means for him with the help of some extraordinary people he meets.
The photo above is of Ella who went to great lengths to look like a girl and was very successful at it. She wrote extensively about her situation and about her desire to transition to being a girl. Her blog, Becoming Ella, was last updated in 2018 with a description of the difficult choices she was facing.
(*) Note that Pinterest (subsequently) deleted all my content and my account without the slightest explanation.
(**) This choice of posting photos of a man/boy dressed in female clothes while unambiguously displaying male genitals raises some interesting questions. As it was not the subject of the Boy & Girl series, I did not explore it further.
The Boy & Girl Saga
Boy & Girl – Imagine Peter’s delight when he finds himself in the head of a girl, he who secretly dresses as a girl. Yet, despite his wild hopes, that girl is not him. She’s Kaitlin, the daughter of a mage in a beleaguered world. Peter has his own problems when a new girl at school threatens to reveal his girly ways. Becoming friends, Kate and Peter confront their problems together.
In Search of Lost Girls – In search of Kate, his lost soul-mate, Peter is beset by individuals hell-bent on stopping him dressing as a girl and besmirching the name of all those who befriend him. Meanwhile Kate has been dumped into a girls’ orphanage where, despite constant abuse and mistreatment, she emerges as a decisive figure in the rescue of her fellow orphans.
We Girls – Peter is beset by an existential choice, retain his androgynous ambiguity or say goodbye to his girlish self. Circumstances, however, force both him and Kate to take up other challenges. By straddling the line between child and adult, between carefree creativity and weighty responsibility, between play and work, they find imaginative ways to confront far-reaching problems on which adults persistently turn a blind eye.