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The Measure of a Man

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This story has been difficult to put down on paper. It's arguably the most emotionally charged story I've written since the Price of Magic (because a perpetual boy ghost whose entire world and existence depends on the presence of a single person seeing him as himself is totally not what a clueless trans man would write, nope, not at all!) Recently I've been going through a period of intense stress (no longer an issue, thankfully), so writing out the introductory scene was a matter of condensing the stress from weeks of personal experience to a few pages' worth of frantic sentences. It was the most therapeutic thing that I could have done. It then got me thinking about what kind of world this Harry would exist in - what would be different and what would be the same.

Also, around a year ago, there was a post going around tumblr speculating that in case of a 'genderbent' Harry, Snape would be Petyr Baelish to Harry's Sansa Stark (given Harry is my default POV guy, the idea was making me dysphoric as well as disgusted at the assassination of Snape's character and casual dismissal of his story arc as a sleazy stereotype, thanks ever so, internet!) Having spent enough time in Harry Potter fandom during the golden age of its Snape and Harry fanfiction classics, I have Many Opinions on this sort of nonsense but will bite my tongue and let this story speak for itself. Although I should reassure you that The Measure of a Man takes that kind of narrative, folds it until it's all corners, and shoves it upwards inch by inch until it reaches the originating orifice and is finally spat back out into the abyss of lesser tumblr posts.

Harry is definitely of age (he came of age at seventeen, according to the wizarding world customs) and has been making adult (albeit reckless) decisions for himself since. Snape is obviously older, but is no Alan Rickman. Talk to me about my reading and writing tastes possibly shaped by the internalised infantilization of trans-masculine brains in AFAB bodies if you dare. I will point you to a lifetime of fic where the obvious train wreck trifectas of the age difference, animosity, and power imbalances take just slightly under 100k to reach a healthy, loving relationship between two equals who see each other exactly as they are. What can I say, I like train wrecks with happy endings.

This is a snapshot of approximately a year's worth of fictional transition. It is far from the exact lived experiences of any human being. Like any fiction, it may match or it may differ vastly from your - or anyone's - life. It is certainly not meant to serve as a how-to reference to life or all things trans. Several shortcuts were taken for the sake of Narrativium (such as the suspiciously quick timing with which Harry grew comfortable with the restrooms at work). I did my best to research HRT process for the UK, since I'm not British, but did not go out of the way to do so. I also did my best to think over and map out Harry's specific dysphoria triggers and comfort levels with his body in various parts of the story, since some of them match mine, while the others do not.

Overall, I wanted to capture the uncertain, turbulent time of early transitions (and the darkest of closets that came before) as the mind still sorts out internalised misconceptions, and as one navigates the cis-gender and gender-binary societies where people can be both clueless and unintentionally hurtful with daily interactions. Fred, George and the Ministry scenes are all good examples of this. 

Harry is frequently mis-gendered and dead-named in the header quotes, some titles, and any chapters happening prior to July 2001 (I've struggled with portraying the accuracy of first-person present tense POV without it.) When discussing Harry, do not use these parts of the story as an excuse to perpetuate backwards trends. Harry's name is just Harry. Harry's pronouns are he/him/his, full stop. He switches to male language to describe most of his body relatively early on. We don't get to un-write his history. When discussing Zoe's past, expect Harry's inwardly cringing reaction out of people - at the very least - if you do it in a similar way George did. 

This story contains sex coupled with magic that does not accurately represent Muggle realities: until you can cast the same sequence of spells as Snape, use protection. If you happen to wear a binder, do not fall asleep in it, your ribs won't thank you.

That said, mirrors and loos are a trend with my writing. (Again, echoing back fifteen years to ghost Harry in the Price of Magic.) Did I hit all the cliches yet? The story also contains plenty of eggs and shells as a metaphor, for what it's worth, because I am that shameless. Speaking of mirrors, if you're looking for a similar narrative from my earlier - far more clueless - attempt at trans themes, Mirror, the Game of Choice and Consequence may be to your liking. If you want a recent dark story about Snape and Harry that passes the Bechdel Test, give Memento Mori a try. For shorter fluff and PWPs, check out Grim or Theriac Therapy. If you're interested in the mainstream works that feature trans gay men in the leading role, try Romeos, the 2011 movie.

To the readers that can relate to the headspace portrayed in this fic on a personal level: hey, man, you are not alone. Yes, we exist and we are real. I've been through a similar experience as what's written in this story regarding my gender identity (can't really comment on the sexuality bit from that perspective) and it's OK. Many of us have been here before and many will come after. I once stood in a huge crowd of us: that alone changes your perspective like nothing else. May you find the people that matter through it all and keep them near you, always.