Two men of noble status and less than noble intentions conspire in the shadows of a gala.
Everyone knew about Duke Hyden. He had been granted the title by the King himself after his magical annihilation of an enemy city. How could the king not reward him, for ending a war single-handed? The King declared it a miracle - all others would call it a massacre.
In peacetime, Hyden's cruelty turned upon his countrymen. His reputation was poison among the peerage, or anyone else unfortunate enough to cross paths with him. However, no other noble would dare to challenge the King’s favorite, nor could any other wizard match his abilities, and so he remained unopposed in his position of power, sitting loftily but alone at the parties he would deign to attend.
However, even the most vicious beasts have parasites.
Once his father’s golden child and a darling of the court, Lord Ambroys’ star had faded in recent years. There were only so many scandals and failures that a pretty face and divine heritage could insulate him from, and he had exhausted all of them. To secure his rank and the adulation of his peers he knew he deserved, he needed an ally, he needed power. If there was one thing Duke Hyden had, it was power.
Ambroys was never known for his subtlety, and in time the peerage began to notice his the young lord’s long absences from his estate, or him stealing away to the shadows of a room to whisper something in the duke’s ear. But the exact nature of their dealings remained secret. Ambroys always did have a halo brighter than his intellect, but even he would know of Hyden’s sinister reputation.
Would an angel really make a deal with the devil?
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I've been re-doing my human OC's and making them mythological creatures (ie: one is an elf and another is a merman) but the one I had questions about is my native Hawaiian character (specifically born on O'ahu)- I made him a werewolf before considering Hawaiian mythology, but I did some research and it looks like the only werewolf-like being from Hawaiian mythology is the kaupe. But I don't want my OC to be a malevolent spirit, he's a good guy. He's also trans and I really want to explore the link between trans men and werewolves- that's the main reason I made him a werewolf. (I'm trans and the inexplicable link between trans men and liking wolves or werewolves has always interested me)
Is there anything specific I should consider about making him a werewolf?
Hawaiian werewolf character
In all honesty, I cannot, as a person of Hawaiian descent, advise taking on writing a character that intersects the identities of Hawaiian people and trans people unless you are prepared for a lot of research or are writing from personal experience as a trans Hawaiian person.
Additionally, if being Hawaiian is a core part of this character, I would like to point out that Hawaiians have our own gender identity outside of the binary. It is vital that those who write about transgender identities in Hawai’i are aware of the current climate of transphobia in Hawai’i and simultaneous reclaimation of māhū within the Hawaiian communities that I’ve discussed in Hawaiian and Samoan-Inspired Non Binary Characters
I’ve covered Indigenous werewolves before under Werewolf Natives: Problems or Not? (in which I essentially say “uh, don’t unless you’re willing to subvert all the cultural narratives that Indigenous people are animals which will take A Lot Of Work and might actually be impossible right now”). But I would like to expand upon this when you’re specifically using werewolves as a metaphor for gender:
As Ren said, gender is cultural. This means werewolves are only a metaphor for certain trans people. I am not saying werewolves as a metaphor for transness is “a white thing.” I am saying it will not be universal at all. It’s rooted in a certain expression of being trans, a certain cultural framework for being trans, and while any one race can be a part of this framework and identify with it, you’re gonna have to do a lot of work nailing down what the common points between all the trans people you know are.
If it so happens that they’re all white? Yeah. That points to this being a metaphor for white people. If you don’t know a single trans Hawaiian who identifies with this framework? Keep them out of it, because as Ren said, trans and Hawaiian is an intersection that is very fraught with culture-specific issues that might not even apply to this metaphor.
Should you find or already know any people of colour who identify with this framework, you’ll really have to listen to them because animalistic PoC is a problem in media representation. You can see a collection of opinions in the werewolves tag, and it mostly boils down to “it depends, but be cautious” to outright “absolutely not.”
I know it’s important to diversify trans representation, because it skews so white, thin, and middle to upper class. But different cultures/peoples experience transness differently, from whether they even have the concept of trans people (see: a lot of Indigenous cultures with third+ genders, as some of us have more than three genders), to whether their cultures are more collectivist or individualistic, to a whole host of factors.
You can’t just write your or your friend group’s experience with transness as something everyone experiences, and that goes double when a supernatural element that has been weaponized against PoC gets factored in. Selection bias is a thing: you’re a trans person into werewolves, so you’re going to find trans people into werewolves way more than a trans person not into werewolves. It’s gotta stay culturally within that group. Because even if you haven’t explored the demographic factors of this, there are going to be common demographic factors that make this such a thing.
What they are I have no idea, because I am a trans person who is not into werewolves, and I have no idea why you identify so much with them. It’s not an inexplicable, constant link; it’s a subculture of identification at best. I’ve never identified with shapeshifters of any kind because it just… doesn’t resonate with me.
I can logically understand why trans people want to be shapeshifters, but I personally am tired of every trans character being a shapeshifter. Major factor: I don’t have much physical dysphoria, and my social dysphoria I blame on society instead of me not looking the way I want to be perceived. If everyone else stopped associating my shape with a certain gender, then my social dysphoria would be 0.
Is this because I grew up with some collectivist principles? Because I’ve always been a bit of a sociologist and have some education in anthropology? Is it purely individual from a lack of dysphoria? I don’t know; I’ve never spent the energy trying to figure it out.
If you want to write a story using werewolves as a metaphor for gender, you have to spend the energy figuring out what cultural factors make the trans people you know identify with them. And you have to ask people why they don’t identify with werewolves, as well.
It’s really that simple. You’ve got to examine yourself and others for the hidden cultural factors that make it feel so natural, and then you’ve got to stick to characters who match those factors. And also look up any other intersections (race, class, education, country of origin) that will influence the representation in other ways.
Diversifying marginalized identities means looking at both the intersections that make them unique and their commonalities towards your experiences. I’m sure even under the umbrella of “trans people into werewolves” there's a huge variety based on personal experiences that might be missing in your analysis of it.
As I mentioned, selection bias is a thing. Don’t just look at a single data point and assume that it’s more common than it is, and don’t look at the commonalities and assume everyone’s logic is the same as yours for why they like it.
It will make for a better story, it will make the identity you’re using feel seen, and it will lead you to knowing yourself and others better. All pluses. Even if you end up writing something that matches your logic but with different demographic factors to you, you’ll be able to craft their story so much more richly because you’ll know other paths that could lead to the same conclusion.
You’ve just gotta do the work.
~ Mod Lesya
P.S. I would also be cautious just throwing random mythical traits onto random characters, because as discussed in the fantasy and coding tags, there are a lot of pitfalls when you cross over various groups with often European magical creatures. Indigenous fairies and elves have huge pitfalls, for example, and not every group wants to be part of every fantasy creature set. Just a side-note to the ask.
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