Sorry if you're sick of talking about the trans thing, but how would I describe my two trans characters (one part of the main ensemble, one a side char) in a pseudo-medieval fantasy narrative? Terms like lesbian, gay, trans etc. don't exist. I can work around it when talking about sexuality, but I really don't want to just ~imply~ someone is trans because that seems a bit gross. Would having them just tell other characters work? I'm a bit lost, and again sorry if I'm offensive in any way.
Honestly, I would just say it. You will be using a dozen other words that didn’t exist in that time period, not to mention making up some of your own for fantasy purposes, I imagine. Just say the word. We existed, and I’m sure we referred to ourselves as something, even if we don’t know what those terms are now (and if this is research that anyone has done, please feel free to chime in). This reluctance to name us is what many members of the LGBT community find offensive - names are a huge part of identity and it really does matter to people that you allow us that identity as a writer.
There’s this fear that once you start using these terms, you become an “issue book” - that is, your book becomes about being gay, for example. I think this is born of the fact that most books about gay characters have been about their coming out, their oppression, their existence in relation to straight people. When we think of using these terms in the text, we think of these books and feel like it doesn’t fit to use these labels. This is changing and more and more books are being written (and published!) about gay characters who are having adventures unrelated to their sexual orientation (that’s not to say their orientation is being ignored, but it’s not their focal characteristic that drives the plot). However, this will only continue to change if you drop the euphemisms and the workarounds and allow us to be fantastic characters who are transgender, or bisexual, or lesbian, or gay.
If you’re uncomfortable using them, write them down over and over again until you’re used to it. Write short character descriptions including those words alongside their brown hair, because it’s far more relevant than that and deserves to make the list.