Before I begin, a tangent.
Last time I got wordy, you may remember, I wrote about geek feminism. Or feminist geekism. Either way.
Three weeks after writing that post, I went to the Sunday pre-release event for Battle for Zendikar (the latest Magic the Gathering release). As I was early, as the shop was quiet, and as I’d almost finished my current creation on the way up, I got out my girly-decorated game box, my play mat … and a sewing box, a Barbie and a Barbie-size skirt I’d made out of an old bandanna that needed a hook fastener to finish. If I can sew on the train and on the platform, heedless of what people think about my stashing half-nude Barbies in my bag, I can sew in a game shop, right?
The first thing I was asked by an arriving player, one who knew I was there to pre-release (it’s a verb): Did you bring any decks with you?
This is long.
Also, as of time of posting, Wizards’ website is down for maintenance, so links may or may not work.
You may or may not know that I have two major fandoms. (I like a great many books and most things that are European melodic metal, but they’re not fandoms for me; most of the time I don’t discover that Eluveitie or Dark Tranquillity released their new album until six months after the fact. Likewise, I can wait a few months to get the latest Robin Hobb, even though every time I read her books I grin because I had a friend who was ultra-conservative Catholic and a Hobb fan, but cut off contact with me as soon as I started coming out, and I bet she just about imploded when she started reading about Sedric and Carson in The Rain Wild Chronicles.) One is Magic the Gathering, because it’s a trading card game that’s amazingly feminist for a mainstream property targeted at dudes, and while I think the technical writing in Uncharted Realms is most often terrible, predictable or bleh, I’m always impressed by both the worldbuilding and the lack of gender-essentialism in MtG’s terms, titles and characters. Now, if Wizards can only continue their impressive work on gender-equality in Legendary characters (in Tarkir block more than half of all Legendary characters are female, and the number goes up when you count twice-printed characters like the original Khans and the Dragonlords) with equality in their roster of Planeswalkers, and take the great move that is Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Ashiok (but only if they stop avoiding pronouns and declare Ashiok to be specifically genderless, please) to more queer Legendaries and Walkers, I’ll die happy.
I wrote an annoyed short post on my Tumblr after reading several comments in a cis m/m romance novel that left my skin crawling. There’s nothing like biphobia or bisexual erasure to drag me out of a story, these days. Well, save for transphobia and non-binary erasure, of course. Or misogyny and slut shaming. Or … well, there’s an awful lot of things that drag me out of a story, but of late it feels as though biphobia lurks everywhere I turn, and one post on Tumblr isn’t enough for me to feel I’ve done my frustration justice – not when bi and pan representation means as much to me as a non-binary reader as it does to me as a pansexual one.
That’s right. I, as a non-binary reader, need bi and pan heroes.
What, you think I exist in gay and lesbian literature?
(I’m going to need a minute to stop laughing. Maybe two. Or ten. How about you come back in half an hour?)
Nothing in these posts is in any way new.
However, I’ve had a few interactions with well-intended cishet allies who have missed the finer details on queer, trans and non-binary language terms and their use, so these words aren’t being said loudly enough to penetrate even those who are open to hearing us. Also, as a queer, non-binary person with editing experience, there may be something I can bring to the dialogue, I hope, that explains why we use our words the way we do.
For once, I’m speaking directly to allies on this post. Most of the time you’re incidental to the dialogue, or I’m talking about you, not to you: I’m talking ‘to you’ in the same kind of rhetorical, laden-with-frustration way I go about much of my dialogue about my experiences. However, I seem to have amassed a collection of cishet ally readers, so this one is for you, because my words matter and because I believe – or hope – my words matter to you.
I have a nine-letter legal first name.
It’s the kind of name that was once masculine but is now considered feminine in Western society. Even the abbreviated form, my use or preferred name (I don’t consider it an nickname because it is my name) is more feminine-leaning than masculine (‘Kim’ is technically gender-neutral but in practice a shade feminine-leaning). I have, in fact, been told by people (more than one) that I should change my name to something less feminine. While I’m all for people choosing whichever name makes them comfortable and happy, I’m morally opposed to the notion that a trans man must have a masculine name, a trans woman a feminine one, or a non-binary person a gender-neutral one. Names don’t have to match gender. We shouldn’t have to change our birth names to conform to some notion of what is and isn’t appropriately gendered if we’re happy with or have some connection to the name given us at birth. I don’t like my full name, but I do like its shortened form, and I don’t see why I should have to change it because it’s not gender-neutral enough.
I happened across this article. On the surface, it looks positive, right? A man writing lead female characters of colour? Representation in a genre that still denies representation to people who are not cis/straight/white/able-bodied/neurotypical/thin/male? Isn’t that awesome?
Unfortunately, to me, the piece pretty much encapsulates one of the major problems with majority people writing minority characters: the ‘look at me I’m writing about minorities’ mode of self-promotion.
I can’t help but read this as ‘I look at WOC and see them as human!’ It’s not so pretty when phrased like that, right?
(Warning: very long post. I talk about queer genre fiction, who writes it, who reads it and my place in it as a queer writer of queer genre fiction.)
I’ve been commenting on a friend’s posts, and every time I comment I find myself in rec mode because I have read a lot and have all the opinions on the things I read.
Luckily for you, she’s sensible enough to tell me that I should create a post.
I want to begin this by saying that their presence on this list doesn’t mean these works are free of problematic material. Not all of the writing is awesome, many of these books are not particularly intersectional in terms of inclusiveness and there will be things I missed given my own sphere of privilege. These are just the best books I’ve read (and I haven’t read everything: there’s plenty of queer-inclusive fantasy on my to-buy list for when I start my job) in terms of queer characters.