I want to talk a little bit about the power of gendered language - for good and for ill.
Let me preface this by saying I am among the privileged cis, and I speak in recognition of that privilege and with love for trans and nonbinary folks of all descriptions. If I put a foot wrong, I will learn and do better.
That said, my central point: Back when Elliott Page was going by another name, and we didn’t know they were trans, I never called him an actress. I don’t generally use that word. I mean it is a real word, but let’s be real here - it’s outmoded af. A woman who sews needn’t be a seamstress; tailor will do just fine. A woman who writes hasn’t been called an authoress in *forever*; anyone can be an author. Gendered language can be powerful. Giving a trans or nonbinary person the pronouns they prefer costs you $0 and is a kindness. Using an archaic, needlessly-gendered word to describe a professional in whatever capacity doesn’t seem empowering to me, it seems exclusionary and limiting.
I also want to echo an excellent sentiment I read recently on Tumblr, although I can’t find the original post anymore: when we write and create our own worlds, our treatment of sex and gender are *choices we can make*. Some people insist on including sexual violence, bigotry, and archaic, hateful language and acts for ‘verisimilitude’ or whatever the excuse du jour may be. That is also some Nonsense that can Just Go. Unless we are portraying Real Historical Events That Literally Happened That Way - if it’s fiction, especially fantasy - *we make the rules*. Our works don’t have to perpetuate a culture of fear and hatred. Our works can be used to analyze, to elevate, and to heal. Fandom is a place for growth, discovery, and joy. There’s a difference between writing something dark to exorcise your own demons, and writing in such a way as to slap the chains back on your wrists or someone else’s.
I wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.