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Reading Reviews for Esse Quam Videri
6 Reviews Found

Review #1, by nott theodore Me.

28th December 2015:
Hey Kevin!

So I've actually read this story a few times since you put it up on the archives and posted about it, but I haven't had time to actually find the right words to review. In a way it's difficult to know what to say about this story because it's so powerful and great that you've written it. I can imagine that it would have been challenging to write but I think you did a fantastic job.

One thing I always love about your writing is the way that, even with one-shots, you manage to maintain an element of mystery in the story, so that we're kept guessing about the characters or the plot until the end. You did that really well in this piece, which was a great technique since it meant that we really engaged with the characters before getting to know more about their gender identity, which I think would help some prevent some people forming preconceived opinions, you know? I think it was really clever and thoughtful, anyway!

I felt so sorry for Dom here in this story. She was clearly struggling so much with everything that she was going through, and there were so many different factors that made it all even worse for her, and I really think you did a great job of thinking about the different details and aspects that would affect her life and make things more difficult. The fact that she'd been made Head Boy is the sort of thing which would just compound all those struggles; final year of Hogwarts must be difficult enough for anyone (I remember my final year at sixth form was stressful as it was) without having to deal with being assigned the wrong gender at birth. I thought you dealt with that and the little details really well.

It was so interesting to see the different ways that you considered the implications that the wizarding world might have on the sort of difficulties someone identifying as genderqueer would face. The idea of Dom using Polyjuice Potion to have a girl's body was so intriguing and interesting - I can imagine how that would be really tempting and maybe a sort of temporary solution or alleviation to her difficulties. Then the fact that St. Mungo's didn't quite understand it or know what had been making her ill was really interesting, too, as I don't really see the wizarding world being a leader in acceptance (although I would love it to be different) and so there's not really a defined approach to how to treat people for potions abuse in these circumstances.

I loved the way that Holtzer came and joined Dom. I suspect that Klaus is the other non-cis gender character? He was great though in the way that he came to talk to Dom so openly and normally, when she's just been surrounded with people talking about her and trying to work out what's going on with her instead of actually talking to her properly, as a person, about things. I'm not sure I entirely agree with the way that Leglimency was allowed to be used on Dom in this case (although those legal details were great), but I did like the fact that Dom found someone she could relate to who made her feel more like a normal person again and the way that he called her 'dear' once he'd discovered that she was a girl. Those little details really helped to build up Dom's character and show the way that her struggle might be dealt with by the medical profession.

I felt so proud of Dom for finally being able to admit who she truly was and that she'd been assigned the wrong gender at birth. It must be such a terribly difficult thing to do but I'm sure she'll feel much freer in the future for admitting it and embracing who she really is. I just feel so sad for her that her parents couldn't accept her identity and left at the point where she needed them most; they let her down there and I can only hope that they manage to improve in the future and support her through anything she chooses to deal with in the future. At the same time, I'm so pleased that Vic was there and was so supportive of Dom - it's a lot for her to take in too, but her reaction is the sort Dom needed at that point and I'm glad that she's got someone in her family who will rally round and support her.

You did a really great job with this, Kevin! I'm not sure that my review actually makes any sense since I feel like I've just rambled and not been able to form coherent thoughts about this story, but I loved it and I'm so pleased that you wrote it.

Sian :)

Author's Response: Howdy Sian! Thank you so much for the wonderfully detailed and kind review! You are always so thoughtful and thorough and it blows me away.

I suppose I do often leave things kind of undefined until a certain point in my stories don't I? Hmm. Thinking back on it, though drawing the reader in more is certainly a part of the motivation, I think I also tend to do it more in stories like this one where the purpose/issue(s) at hand is much greater than an individual character.

I'm also glad that you liked that the story addressed a lot of different angles and challenges of living as a person that identifies as trans. As you probably gathered from the A/N I was quite nervous that making that happen might detract from Dom herself or the impact of everything she's experiencing, so it's gratifying to know that you didn't feel that way.

As for Holtzer, you're correct that he's the other non-cis character. I actually originally intended for the story to end with Dom's discharge, casting leaving with Vic out there and leaving that reaction much more ambiguous. That would have opened the door to what Holtzer left behind for her, which would've been a picture and either a note on the reverse or letter he penned before being obliviated about his own experiences transitioning from being born female to accepting and living his true identity as a male. In the end though, I decided to abandon that because I wanted to include Vic in the story directly and when I did, the actual ending just flowed out of me and I felt it was much more powerful for Dom's story to close with her embracing herself openly for the first time. However, as you can imagine, Holtzer's own life certainly factored into his decision to be so personal with Dom, even if his job and actions compelled him to be invasive. It's actually the reason he's forthright about that invasion - because he knows how he felt when it was revealed in a much more nasty way to him.

Bill and Fleur - well, I haven't decided what their ultimate reaction will be. I don't know if I'll ever write it, but of course I too would like to believe they'll come around - and do so before it's too late.

Once again thanks so much for this incredible review! I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

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Review #2, by Diogenissa Me.

21st December 2015:
Howdy Kevin! Here for our swap!

This—this is a freaking AMAZING story—OMG this was so wonderful! From the get-go, you had me enraptured and left in the mystery. All the way up until Dom’s confession to Vic, I was left wondering and was held on the edge of suspense and you did a fantastic job building it up with a slow burn, toward a rapid-fire flame and then to a steady source of warmth.

Dom’s emotions were strong and prevalent throughout, and most certainly did not get lost in the shuffle of everything going on. My favorite part of the story was the interaction with Holtzer—that’s a clever healer—very clever ( ‘does -she- have a name?’)! And I’m in admiration of your ‘legalese’ with the two Ministry statutes and was as astonished as Dom for a few moments. I could see Holtzer being a spy or something in his future endeavors and it would honestly be very interesting to find out if you choose to continue Dom’s story.

I won’t lie—this is a hard subject for me to read as I had a very bad personal experience but I disengaged it the best I could because I know how hard it is to be wanted, loved, and accepted for who you are and not for what you aren’t. I understand this, as well as how hard it is to want nothing more than your parent’s love and help in your greatest times of need and my heart goes out to her.

The way you finished the story—that very last line—read like a sense of release and peace for Dom and that in of itself is a happy ending. It might be small but sometimes the smallest things in life can have the absolute most meaning and the writing of that name while small, is her entire meaning because it’s -who- she is. Always have to start somewhere! :-)

A fantastically beautiful story Kevin. Thank you so much for writing it as well as for the swap—I hope we can do it again sometime and good luck in the challenge!

Karen xoxo

P.S. – I’m 90% sure the other trans character is Holtzer ( I say 90% because there always has to be room for a margin of error yes? ;-) ).

Author's Response: Howdy Karen! Thank you for your kind and detailed review!

I'll lead by saying that you're 100% correct that Holtzer is the other trans character. I'd originally had a different ending for this one that revealed that fully, but decided closing with Dom truly claiming her identity was stronger and hopefully a more empowering ending too.

As far as the legalese goes, I'm lucky enough to live my dream job as a lawyer day-to-day so that wasn't too hard for me to write, but the rest was absolutely challenging. I struggled a lot wondering if I was REALLY getting it right and wondering if the structure I'd chosen was going to pan out properly, but I'm glad to hear you thought it did.

I'm very sorry to hear that you have endured suffering yourself in this area. I think it's really amazing that you read the story and engaged with it despite that, as I would've absolutely understood if you chose not to. Though the list dwindles, my own past causes me to be unwilling to read certain things (at least with any frequency) and they probably aren't as significant as your own.

That makes me appreciate your feedback all the more! Thanks for the swap!

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Review #3, by bigblackdog Me.

20th December 2015:
hello! here for our swap and so glad to have read this story!

i love when fics have a certain realism, i think it speaks to a fleshed out wizarding world. your story definitely achieves that with the wizarding statues quoted by klaus and the mixed reaction Dom receives when the truth is finally out. it's so well written that even though i'm sad Dom's parents aren't more supportive, i respect that you portrayed a common reaction. it does justice to the struggle a lot of queer people experience and i think you wrote about it with a lot of sensitivity.

i was especially impressed with the subtle mannerisms you included, like this one:

"I looked away, absent-mindedly tucking a rogue curl behind my ear."

and the healer calling Dom "dear" after he finds out.

i can't decide who the other noncisgender character is! it would be sweet if it was healer klaus because he seemed to be very understanding. although i kind of wonder if it's Vic? it doesn't totally match up, especially with all the pronouns, but in that last conversation Vic could be offering to show Dom not only about being a girl, but transitioning. Vic just seems to have a certain understanding of their parents reaction.

i kind of like that we don't know who the other non-cis character is. the explicit representation of a noncisgender character promotes much needed representation, but not knowing the other character achieves the feeling that one's gender identity/sexuality/etc isnt' the sole definition.

one of the things that i love most about this story is that even though you're focusing on awareness/empathy for genderqueer individuals, there's a broader message of tolerance especially in your treatment of addiction. the way the healers speak about Dom when they think she's a drug user really cultivates an awareness of how people with addictions are treated. what really shines in this fic is a message of understanding any and every human.

wonderfully done!


Author's Response: Howdy Elise! Thanks for the swap and for your wonderfully detailed review!

Realism is certainly always what I strive for as the foundation of my stories, even in a fantastical world like the wizarding world, I never want to leave readers speculating about whether a series of events or actions "makes sense" in the context of the universe we're in and so I'm glad you got that from the statutes and other aspects of the piece.

As far as the mannerisms go, though they aren't strictly necessary given the challenge label that goes on the story, I really wanted to use those to emphasize to the dichotomy between her outward appearance as a male and her true self, which I hoped also would facilitate the solving of the mystery of why she's in the hospital with having a visibly male character using more stereotypically female mannerisms - some that come naturally like the one you mentioned and others that would have been acquired by watching other girls/women or practice (like sitting so as not to bunch the hospital gown, which I hoped readers could equate with girls/women keeping their skirts and dresses from bunching under them).

Fortunately, I get to make your hope come true when I tell you that the other noncis character IS Holtzer. I had originally conceived of the final scene as being Dom picking up what Holtzer left for her - a picture of himself at her age, looking to all the world to be female and a letter or a note on the reverse explaining (since he couldn't really offer to help owing to the obliviation).

I'm glad that you found the story appropriate in its depth and sensitivity and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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Review #4, by Unicorn_Charm Me.

20th December 2015:
Hey Kevin! Here for our swap.

Wow, I have to say that I'm really proud of you for writing something like this, when you've said that you might not have if not for this challenge. I thought you'd did a great job with it, to be honest.

I worried throughout the story that Dom had tried to intentionally hurt herself, and that was why she ended up in the Hospital. I was so hoping that wasn't the case and really glad it wasn't.

That person who they brought in, the one pretending to be a specialist from Berlin, they were trans too, weren't they? That was kind of crappy how they tricked Dom like that. But I suppose they were desperate at that point.

I'm so disappointed in Bill and Fleur for not being there for Dom. I'm really hoping that they are, and perhaps just Dom feels as if they're not, and everything will work out for her in the end.

I love that Vic just accepted her without question. That she immediately offered her place for Dom to stay at. I feel better knowing that she will have at least one person who is there for her unconditionally.

I truly don't know what it's like to go through this. But I'm sure it must be terrifying. I think you did a fantastic job of showing how Dom was feeling here, especially with this being your first time writing about the subject. This really makes me want to see what happens after. If Dom's parents accept her for who she is and how life is for her after Hogwarts.

Great job on this, Kevin! Thanks so much for the swap!

xoxo Meg

Author's Response: Howdy Meg! Honestly, my not having been likely to write it otherwise primarily owed to my own fear about mishandling it.

You are quite right in your observation that Holtzer was trans as well. I had originally planned to close the piece with Dom leaving the hospital and remembering what he had said and discovering an old picture of him from his youth before he made the transition to being male from being born anatomically female. Alas, I scrapped that in the end because I thought closing on Dom taking ownership of her identity was the better scene and better message, but I wondered if anyone would pick up on it.

I'm pretty disappointed in Bill and Fleur too and honestly, one of the challenges I wrestled with (and I almost ditched Dom as the character in favor of Molly because of it) was seeing them doing that to their child. But in the end I decided to commit to it. The story isn't intended to say that they're necessarily permanently abandoning/disowning her, but they have actually left and are definitely NOT there for her.

At the same time, I certainly wanted to show that there IS acceptance too and I thought Vic was the perfect vehicle because she would have grown up in a more progressive era and was her sister.

I haven't decided if I'm going to follow this up in any way. My gut instinct is probably not, but I'll certainly let you know if that changes.

Thanks again for the swap and the detailed and thoughtful review!

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Review #5, by victoria_anne Me.

20th December 2015:
You definitely accomplished mystery here! I was guessing almost all the way through, wondering where it was going. To be honest I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, I don't normally read fics like this, but I found myself really enjoying it, and I think it's structured perfectly. Well done!

Author's Response: Howdy and thanks for stopping by to R&R this piece! I really appreciate the kind words!

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Review #6, by ad astra Me.

20th December 2015:

i don't review you very often so I apologise in advance for my all-over-the-place caps and general refusal to adhere to standard grammar rules but God I don't know why I don't read you all the time, this is phenomenal stuff and you've done such an amazing job with it.

you covered so much material and so many issues in this piece and it's a real testament to your skill and insight. i love the direction you chose to take this - having Dom in St Mungo's, refusing to co-operate with the Healers, even touching on the issues of consent and the legal requirements of the hospital to find out what's wrong with her. all the elements of this - Polyjuice poisoning, Dom turning into Vic, the reactions of her family, the secrecy - combine into a really compelling piece. The fact that her parents just settled the bill and left - it's heartbreaking, but it's also far more realistic than any kind of confrontation with her would have been. i hope they come around and come to terms with her identity, but so many parents of queer kids fail in the immediate first moments when their kids need support the most.

This is such a brilliant story, Kevin - intelligent, thoughtfully written and sensitive. Beautifully done.

Author's Response: HOWDY ELISABETH!

There's no need at all to apologize for not adhering to convention! I just appreciate the review!

The story's genesis was quite interesting for me personally because when I saw the challenge I knew it was immediately one I wanted to take part in both to push my boundaries as a writer and educate myself as a human being because while we seem to hear so much about people that identify as LGBTQA and what that means from mass media these days, there seem to be quite a number of rebuttals put forth that dismiss certain outlets' coverage as inaccurate or stereotyping or both.

With that (and my original seed idea of polyjuice poisoning) in mind, I tried to set out to touch on a lot of the major issues that I know exist - the challenges of coming out, the preference for secrecy over that in many because of fear of reactions and reprisals among other things, and then tried to feather in other things that sprung to mind from my "legal" angle as a lawyer.

Honestly, by the end, I wasn't sure how it had all come out (I seem to feel that way a lot about my writing), but I am very glad to hear that you thought I handled it effectively and most importantly thoughtfully and with the appropriate sensitivity. I know I certainly learned a lot through the pre-writing and even trying to put myself in Dom's place to write the story and for that I'll be forever thankful.

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