The Big Fucking Genderswap Post.
NB: This is kind of a ‘for beginners’ post jsyk.
I like genderswap fic. I really do. Whether it’s 'always a girl/boy!’ or 'I woke up today with different junk’, it’s frequently interesting, fun and sexy.
Unfortunately, a lot of the terminology used in such fic (especially 'genderswap’ itself) is offensive to trans*people and generally inaccurate. And it’s sad when the experience of reading what is otherwise a good fic is marred by the wrong words or pronouns.
So how do we fix this?
Firstly: Go read this. It’s 'Not Your Mom’s Trans 101, it explains things in a simple and non-problematic way, it will enrich your life and the way you treat others. I’ll wait here.
Read it? Good. Here’s a queer terms dictionary as well.
How does this relate to your fanfiction?
Well, firstly, 'genderswap’ is an inaccurate term. Precisely how it is inaccurate depends on the variety of fic you’re writing.
'Always an X’ Fic
In which your canon John Smith character is now and always has been Johanna Smith, or vice versa. In this case, 'genderswap’ is inaccurate because it is not just John/Johanna’s gender which has changed, but also their sex/. They have gone from a cisman or woman to a ciswoman or man. 'Always a girl/guy’ is also problematic as a title because it assumes that cisgender people are the default girl or guy. So the best way to label these fics are probably as 'always a cisgirl/guy’ or 'cisgirl!John’ fic.
'Woke up this morning with a new body’ fic.
In this case, 'genderswap’ is inaccurate because you most likely haven’t changed their gender at all, just their body. (If you’ve written a fic where someone’s gender magically changes but not their body, why are you reading this, you probably know all this shit already. Also link me.) So it should probably be called 'sexswap’ fic, because they have gone from what society would perceive to be one sex and changed to another.
I separate this from fic in which a canonly cis character is made trans* from birth because a) they’re really different genres and b) on most occasions writers are not looking to explore the implications of becoming trans* by magically acquiring a different body. If you are, again, why are you reading this you probably know all this already and LINK ME IT.
Also: pronouns. If a cisgender John Smith wakes up one fine Tuesday morning with a magically appeared set of tits and everything else to go with them, John has not become a 'she’, and you should not refer to him as one, because his gender has not changed. Same with Johanna waking up with a dick. Still a 'she’.
ALSO: GENDERFUCK. You should not be labelling any 'always a cis - xyz’ or 'sexswap’ fics with the term 'genderfuck’. Genderfuck is, in wikipedia’s very accurate words, ’the conscious effort to mock or “fuck with” traditional notions of gender identity, gender roles, and gender presentation.’ Nothing to do with comedically changing bodies or anything. It can be in the same fic, of course, but it’s a separate if similar thing. Do you know how much it makes me weep when I trawl through the 'genderfuck’ tag on delicious only to find hundreds of plain old 'genderswap’ fics? A LOT.
Why is this important?
Well, firstly: accuracy is nice. But more importantly - fandom is, for a lot of queer kids, one of the few places we can actually find representation. It’s a place to unashamedly explore our identities, and claim some cisgender hetero characters for our own. There are brilliant, beautiful trans* AUs out there, exploration of gender identities, scorching hot genderfuckery.
But even outside those particular corners of fandom, we should be able to feel comfortable, and as I’ve said, a lot of the terminology in use for 'genderswap’ fic is problematic, offensive and erasing. We deserve not to be alienated by our safe places. So the use of these new terms, keeping these ideas in mind, can help you write fic which is not only awesome, but socially concious and respectful.