Designed in 1978, the rainbow flag had originally eight colors, each with its own meaning: hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic/art, blue for harmony, and violet for the spirit.
I’ve been wavering back and forth on whether or not I should post this because it’s very personal and possibly not as informed as I would like it to be. And it requires a little prefacing.
I write nonbinary characters. (I don’t have a single story which doesn’t include at least a protagonist or love interest who’s nonbinary, usually with a number of nonbinary supporting characters.)
And these nonbinary characters come in all forms and styles and pronouns and self presentations, from humans who believe they aren’t defined by anyone else’s perception of their gender, to characters whose entire society doesn’t differentiate between male and female, to agender demi-gods who use gendered pronouns because they feel like it and their to genderfluid parents who wear dresses to the opera.
Through the process of writing these characters I’ve subjected them to quite a few beta readers. And what I see in my feedback is a consistent trend of binary readers worried over whether my portrayals of nonbinary character might come off as offensive, while nonbinary readers don’t bat an eye.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that it’s bad for people of binary genders to be critical of how nonbinary characters are portrayed, because I love having people watching out for me and my nonbinary fam.
But I’m also worried.
I’m worried that binary writers aren’t writing nonbinary characters because they’re afraid of getting it wrong.
If binary writers are worried a nonbinary writer is getting their own representation wrong, then how much more are they criticizing themselves for perceived flaws in their own nonbinary characters?
Please: Write nonbinary characters. Specifically, write nonbinary protagonists and love interests.
There is such a broad scale of nonbinary identifying individuals, who’ve all had very different experiences, who all present themselves in different ways, with different pronouns, for different reasons. We are more diverse than you can imagine.
And yet we have essentially no representation. We are dying, dying, for characters in fiction who’s similar to us. The most devastating way you can mess up is to not care enough to try in the first place.
I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a day because I needed to edit it and boy. Boy am I pissed.
Just fucking pissed.
After having a binary person (one who only writes a nonbinary villain no less) attempt to call out my #ownvoice representation, I couldn’t be more angry.
(I mean, I could be more angry, as proven by that time a TERF broke into my personal messages to write me two essays on why my identity isn’t real and I actually just hate myself enough to pretend it is, but that’s a different story altogether.)
So I amend this:
Please, please write nonbinary characters. But please, for the love of all things good, don’t try to tell other writers how to write these nonbinary characters if you aren’t also nonbinary.
Write us characters but don’t fucking step on us in the process.
Last year when I read that Guillermo Del Toro made a point to have the woman fuck the fish monster in his new movie I was just like “damn Guillermo you’re a weirdo calm the fuck down” but now I’ve seen the film it’s like I get it. This story needed sex in it because it was centered in a disabled woman. Elisa was such an easy character to infantilize but then Del Toro makes a point to make her sexual, he throws it in the face of the audience and doesn’t let them treat his badass sweet protagonist as less sexual than any other grown woman would be perceived as. It’s awesome, thanks for being a weirdo Guillermo.