For those of you who read my free online serial, Eikasia, you’re very familiar with one of the main characters: Elmiryn!
She’s arrogant, brash, and has (what one reader called) a controversial sense of humor.
But if there is one thing that Elmiryn is not, that’s stupid. She may not be the most book smart, that’s for her co-star, Nyx, to brag. No, what Elle has got is an ability to see outside of the box. Now what she does with that knowledge isn’t always tactful, but there’s a reason she was a dragoon captain. Dragoons took on the dangerous missions, the suicidal missions. But she survived every time without a scratch. Why? Because she observes things most can’t even bring themselves to, and it’s that kind of thinking that led her to her surprisingly pragmatic quote in Eikasia’s very first chapter (which she then repeated numerous times throughout the Eikasia epic):
“You can’t shame me for working off my prejudices–everyone on this world needs a way to react to something new and mysterious if they wanna keep from getting overwhelmed.”
Elmiryn is aware of her own prejudices, and she’s prepared to shed these views if she’s presented a convincing alternative. She will not let others shame her for failing to see what she could not have seen before.
Which sort of brings me, finally, to what I really wanted to talk about today.
As you guys know, I’ve been trying to promote Kliff’s Edge (which you should check out btw!) with tweets, posts, and other tactics. Well, as I’ve stated numerous times on my Twitter account, this is for a school project, and the more response I get, the better results I’ll be able to use for my class final a little over a week from now. Though it would take time to get the approvals (or rejections) I decided to submit Kliff’s Edge to different directories and listings that I thought might accept the series. One of these was an LGBT website (I won’t say which) that has listed my other works in the past.
Now…the funny thing was, I anticipated a certain level of doubt about Kliff’s Edge, because May, the main character, is genderqueer (AKA trigender). That means that in all areas of her life, whether at work, at school, on the toilet, or having sex with another person, she never considers herself a man OR a woman. This is gender identity, and science has shown that sexual orientation and gender are two different things in the human brain. This is a fact that can be seen with transexuals as well. For instance, a person born a man but who wishes to be a woman may still prefer women through the transitioning process (effectively making their orientation, lesbian). Many cisgenders do not know this can happen. I think the LGBT community has progressed in terms of understanding transexuals, but many trans still report discrimination within the community about such things. So given all of this knowledge, I was totally aware that there could be some resistance to the idea of Kliff’s Edge fitting in this LGBT directory.
The response I got? Still surprised me. A lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten used to speaking to people who understand that gender identity and orientation are two different things, but to hear this from a fellow LGBT person was just…wow! It was just a harsh reminder that sometimes we’re not all on the same page.
…And that’s okay! So long as we change.
The response from the listing owner was basically expressing concerns over my attempt to place May in the “lesbian” category because she doesn’t see herself as a woman. They asked what she considered herself when with a sexual partner. They said that lesbian readers had expectations when perusing their lesbian listings and so if May was thinking (read behaving) as a man too much, they would be alienated.
In as non-threatening and patient a tone I could manage, I proceeded to type out my response, explaining that gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing. That May is not trans. She was born with female genitalia and she likes it. She does not “sometimes” thinks she’s a man or a woman. She’s just May. Trigender. Genderqueer.
I then went on to provide examples of how looking or behaving masculine was not a foreign thing in the lesbian community, as not all butches are trans. That androgynous women, whether more masculine or more feminine, had a place too.
See, what the site owner was doing was seeing gender roles and biological sex as inseparable things. As they saw it, May saying she’s not a woman was denying her sex, and therefor (psychologically) she could not be a lesbian.
I’ve already sent my response to the site owner, and I hope that they accept Kliff’s Edge to their listing, but if not? I’ll be…disappointed, but not angry. The entire time I wrote my response email, I was thinking of Elmiryn, and her view on prejudices. Some people simply do not encounter things like genderqueer, and so they don’t know all the facts about them, or that they are a diverse subgroup all their own. Hell can you blame them? I remember feeling isolated in my hometown in California, and I lived 2 hours from San Francisco! People get exposed to different things in different ways at different times of their lives. I even remember a time I got irritated with my husband for thinking all transexuals were gay. It was simple naivety on his part. It’s only now that I realize that was unfair to get upset with him. He’d never heard of the things I’d heard of. And that’s why dialogue is important…with everybody. (Of course, when a person still chooses to disregard facts when presented a series of conclusive arguments, it’s safe to call them an asshole. You just can’t give up on the first try!)
I’d end this by saying, if only we had more Elmiryn’s in the world, but who wants to deal with so many bad drunks?