Writing fantasy is fun, and one of the main reasons is that the author decides the rules of each fantasy universe they create. I’ve seen so many amazing fantasy universes built up from scratch, each with its own unique culture, religion, and societies.
My most recent fantasy project has dragons. I know, lots of fantasy works have dragons in them.
In this world, dragons and humans live and work together in a sort of symbiotic relationship. There’s one major difference: the dragons of my world have hermaphroditic sexual organs and gender neutral identities. I was really excited to write this story, because I was going to be able to use gender neutral pronouns.
I was originally going to use they/their/them pronouns, because it was easiest, but then I got to thinking about it more in depth. In our own society, non-binary people started using they/their/them pronouns for two reasons. One, English doesn’t have an existing gender neutral pronoun. Two, they/their/them was established as a singular pronoun for someone of whom the speaker doesn’t know the gender.
This lends that pronoun some legitimacy. However, the use of this pronoun was shaped by a history of binary genders in western societies. There was no other gender identities acknowledged until recently.
So why would I use they/their/them for my gender neutral dragons? Gender neutral identities are all that dragons know and have known since the inception of their society, at least in the history of dragons in the area they currently inhabit. Of course they already have their own gender neutral pronoun.
But of course, that means that I now have to make up a gender neutral pronoun for them to use. I’ve already asked a few people what they thought of this, and while most people agree with my reasoning about dragons having a pre-existing neutral pronoun, no one really has any ideas of what a dragon pronoun would sound like.
So, back to the drawing board with me, because now I have to go back and decide the evolution of draconic languages.
Who knew this required so much history creation?
For those of you who have been following along on the blog, yes, these are the same dragons I was talking about before. And yes, the main character is still ace/aro.
Does that make my character’s identity really complicated? Yes.
Is it unnecessarily complicated? No.
Because you see, my friends, people who have these long and seemingly complex identities actually exist in real life. I’m just framing my character in a way that reflects the reality of both our world’s and my made-up world’s intersectionality.
Readers might worry now, but I intend to show you what those identities actually mean, and the way they intersect and interact. I won’t just throw readers off the deep end and say “learn these identities, very important, if you don’t you’re a bigot! lol”
But before I do that, I guess I’m going to be writing and rewriting sections of dialogue to see how well different made up neutral pronouns work in the text.
Wish me luck!