I agree it’s a difficult balance, Jim.
As I said, I want her to be a compelling character that people want to read about. Even as a genre character she will have flaws, some more major than others. I still want her to be likeable enough that people will read her, especially since I have a series in mind.
Also, I fear we haven’t quite reached the point where I could include an unsympathetic trans character and not color the perception of wide swaths of readers concerning trans people. It seems like the same was true for gay characters 30+ years ago. Until recently, just as with trans characters now, gay characters tended to be victims, villains, or the butt of a joke.
There is a great deal of outrage when that happens now. There is a growing amount of outrage for trans characters when this happens, but I’m not sure we are at the point where trans people can be extremely flawed without falling into the “trans as villain” trope.
It does seem like a chicken-egg thing, though. Can we break stereotypes by writing authentic, flawed characters, or can we only start writing severely flawed characters once the trans-as-villain stereotype is broken? I don’t know.
Thanks, as always, for your well-considered, thoughtful response, Jim!