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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nominations Needed: Best Non-Binary Character

Who is the best non-binary character in fiction? 

While you head over to vote in the last couple of days of our best series poll (yes you should go vote!), we also need to gear up for our April poll.

Almost every character in literature is either a man or a woman, but not every character is. This month we call on nominations for the best portrayal of a character who is outside the gender binary.

The Rules

1- As always, I leave definitions up to your best judgement because I'd rather be inclusive. While gender is a social construct and a little slippery, the gender binary is fairly well defined as cisgender, and covers probably 99.9% or more of literary characters, the umbrella that "cisgender" doesn't cover is vast and diverse. There are many expressions of gender that are outside the binary from agender to transgender to genderfluid. I do not wish to host arguments as to whether whether a feminine presenting intersex character "counts" unless they "truly" question their birth designation or whether a gender fluid character is fluid enough. If you nominate it, and it is not clearly ridiculous ("Harry Dresden tried to get in touch with his feminine side that one time...."), I will trust your judgement.

2- While the story doesn't have to be like Middlesex, which very much revolves around gender, this is a call for the best portrayal of characters outside the gender binary. An alien who simply says, "We don't have gender on my world," once during their introduction onto the page, and proceeds to act like a fairly typical dude for the rest of the book (but you think is cool because they broke all those cyphers and figured out the plot twist) would probably not make a good fit. However an alien race with three genders that are explored, even if the main story were more about repopulating the Earth, would be. Please be careful with aliens–their non conformity to the gender binary should be something portrayed, something considered, and something that contributes to an exploration of the human condition and the idea of gender, not simply something "weird" to make them other that is mentioned once or twice and never has any real bearing.

3- You may nominate two (2) characters. (Remember that I am a horrid and unyielding power hungry monster here at Writing About Writing. To encourage reading and reading comprehension I will NOT take any characters beyond your second nomination.) If you nominate more than two characters, I will only take your first two and consider any beyond that to be "pre-seconding" for a future nomination.

4- You may (and should) second as many nominations of others as you wish. No characters will be going on to our poll that doesn't get at least one second.

5- Please put your nominations here. I will take books nominated as comments to this post on other social media; however, they may not get the seconds you need because no one will see them.

6- If your ideology is trans exclusionary, stay the fuck out of my space! You are not welcome here and neither is any kind of shoe-horning a transantagonist agenda into the comments on this poll. Anything like that will be insta-deleted.


I want, in particular, to invite any call outs or course corrections the genderqueer community might feel I need in the wording of this post. If I have phrased something in a less-than appropriate way or done something that erases a group, please let me know and I will edit. I'm still pretty 101 on gender stuff.

46 comments:

  1. Nahadoth, from the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
    Bel, from the Vorkosigan Saga

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    Replies
    1. Second Nahadoth. Was going to be one of my noms!

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    2. Third Nahadoth.

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  2. Second for Bel Thorne.

    Also nominate Hildy Johnson from Steel Beach.

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    1. I second Hildy Johnson, who was going to be my nominee.

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  3. I second Hildy Johnson from Steelbeach by John Varley. The whole book helped to shine light on my views and I have given hundreds of cooies to people to challenge their perceptions. I love it.

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  4. Yavin from Runaways.

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  5. Lady Dela from Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

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  6. The Fool from Robin Hobb's Farseer books.

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  7. Breq from Ancillary Justice
    Second The Fool/Amber

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  8. Jodahs from Imago by Octavia Butler

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  9. Pie'oh'pah from Clive Barker's Imajica.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. I second Breq from Ancillary Justice
    Also Estraven from Left Hand of Darkness

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    Replies
    1. Another vote for Therem Harth re ir Estraven, from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.

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  12. Oh, and I guess just to really get the conversation flowing, Frank Cauldhame From Iain Banks The Wasp Factory. Though I have a hard time finding a definition of 'best' for him, beyond possibly 'best line in grim humour', maybe.

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  13. Oh, and second Desire from Sandman :)

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  14. Thanet Rena-eperu from M.C.A Hoarth's Stone Moon Trilogy.

    The characters are all aliens but exploring gender roles is a big part of what the series is about.

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  15. Second for Bel Thorne.

    Also nominate Hildy Johnson from Steel Beach.

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  16. I third (fourth?) Fool/Amber from Robin Hobb's Farseer books, and also a shout out to Octavia Butler's ooloi third gender of the Oankali race. I can't seem to find or remember (1987 was a long time ago...) the character names, so it's probably not eligible here, but how she takes up sexuality, gender, and reproduction are fascinating (and of course, she's an amazing writer, so there's that).

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    1. oh, oh someone else named one of her characters from this trilogy, "Jodahs." So I guess I'm seconding that :)

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  17. Sparrow from "Bone Dance" by Emma Bull. Also, second Breq from Ancillary Justice/Sword/Mercy.

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  18. Agent Jones, also known as Jonesy or Andrea, in the serial novel series Require: Cookie. ( www.requirecookie.com )Not only gender fluid but is literally capable of shifting hir body between male and female and does so based on situation and need.

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  19. I'm not sure this completely counts, but Lizbeth from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

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  20. Orlando in "Orlando" by Virginia Woolf takes life in stride whether he's a pageboy or she's Lady Orlando.

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  21. Burgoyne 172 from Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier novels.

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  22. Tar Gibbons, from the Alien Adventures series.

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    Replies
    1. I second Tar Gibbons, I came on here to mention it.

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  23. Nominating Michael Moorcock's "Jerry Cornelius"

    Second Sparrow
    Second Desire
    Second Orlando

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  24. I'm going to try to be less of a flesh snob than I normally am when answering this.
    First is Excalibur Junior the sentient sword you travel with in the Grail Quest interactive novels.
    Second is the Luggage from Discworld

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  25. I'm going to try to be less of a flesh snob than I normally am when answering this.
    First is Excalibur Junior the sentient sword you travel with in the Grail Quest interactive novels.
    Second is the Luggage from Discworld

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  26. I nominate Illario from the Lion's Eye

    I also nominate Stevonnie from Steven Universe

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  27. Damn. I've got some reading to do. The only one I've ever heard of is Bel Thorne

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  28. I don't think I'd actually vote for them in the final contest, but I think Andrew Jackson "Slipstick" Libby/Elizabeth A. J. Libby Long from Heinlein's "Misfit," Methuselah's Children, Time Enough for Love (references only, no on-page appearance), and "The Number of the Beast..." probably deserves a mention.

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