Finished a new short story called “On the Inside.” It is, again, actually not very short (shocker!). It weighed in at about 15,000 words. Speculative fiction, coming of age.
It’s about Lihill, a transgender girl assigned male at birth, born to a polytheistic culture that strongly segregates its males and its females.
Lihill feels that she’s a girl from the moment she’s old enough to express it, but it’s undeniable that she has what’s interpreted as a boy’s body. In her sex-segregated culture, she’s treated as a boy and made to get a boy’s education, most notably focused around embracing gods instead of the community’s goddess and adopting an elemental alignment consistent with male identity.
She’d love to attend the girls’ troop and form a bond with the element Water, but as a boy she has to settle for studying Air. Though her best friend and her sister seem sympathetic and treat Lihill kindly—even including her in traditionally feminine activities sometimes—they don’t truly understand her situation, and her parents won’t accept that she isn’t a boy in her head.
After repeatedly failing to do what’s expected of her as a boy, the family finally consults a wise woman who’s the first to recognize that Lihill must be a girl on the inside. But she’s still faced with many misconceptions about her gender in a world that’s never heard of someone like her, and is consistently bothered by the fact that saying who she is has never been enough.
I actually plan to try rewriting this in third person (maybe with a different angle, too) because a couple spots of feedback I got suggested that my attempt to have a less cerebral character has resulted in Lihill seeming a bit “emblematic.” I’m not sure if I can sell the story to anyone since it’s a bit long, but we’ll see if I ever do anything with it.