Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Trans pronoun usage and or credit

Okay, here is another subject that I’m sure will make me less popular. How is everyone handling Trans pronouns. I’ve been using the pronouns put forward by Bernard Doove and his Chakats guide. However, it does get a little complicated as some characters know the pronouns and others don’t know the proper pronouns. I was wondering if anyone has an easier system or a means to keep it looking cleaner than it looks to me? Second, should I be crediting Bernard for the pronoun guidelines? I haven’t in the past but it seems as if it would be the polite thing to do especially as the books become more populous. How much credit should I give him? Link to his website? Ideas? or suggestions?

I’ve been using the pronouns people ask me to use?

I mean in your writing… or published works. That is what I’m asking not what to address individuals in person.

Are you asking how characters in a story should address other characters if they don’t know pronouns? Or how you should deal with them in a limited-view narrative if the narrator doesn’t know the pronouns of another character? Or is there something else in there you’re asking? Not 100% sure, so I’d ask you to clarify that, though in both of the above cases, if they POV person or a speaker wants to come off as a good person, they’d ask about pronouns if they aren’t sure. There are many good ways of doing this without breaking the flow.
A good rule of thumb is if the character (or people in general in the real world) isn’t sure, use “they” until they find out what they should be using. The number of people who would get offended at a singular “they” (which is what one would use if they’ve been given no indications of gender and/or has never seen the person) is very, very small, and as long as the person corrects themselves once they find out, no harm done.

Also, are you asking if an individual should be credited somewhere in your book when it comes to using character pronouns? I can tell you right now the answer to this would be no, unless they are conlang pronouns that they themselves created. And at that point I’d ask permission to use them, to avoid conflict in the future.

Lastly, just because a person doesn’t want to use the pronoun they were assigned at birth doesn’t mean they’re trans. As something to think about.

The question was how others are using the ‘new’ pronoun usage in their written word. I’ve been using Shi and Hir(possessive) that I found used by another couple of writers. One writer wrote a set of guidelines for a true hermaphrodite species, which I felt somewhat mirrors the real world of trans difficulties from those outside of the community. I’ve been using standard pronouns until characters are taught proper address of the unique species. I thought it was working well except it reads clunky and feels forced. It doesn’t feel like it flows as much as feels preachy. I thought I would check to see how others were addressing this or anyone was trying to slip it into fiction. My other concern is the difficulty of editing. I thought of trying the ‘they’ but it end up causeing plural and singular disagreements, while the Bernard Doove’s pronouns doesn’t and an editor can assume I intended the new pronoun. Of course, I have difficulty using said pronoun when I am typing or proofing and have to fix them as I find them. It gets more complicated if you try to consider who is familiar with proper address of other character or who uses the new pronouns and keeping everyone straight. Every time I repeat the lesson of pronoun use to another character the preachy feel compounds. I’ve been limiting the lecture to once per book and then just motioning it afterwards. Here is a link of where I found what I was using if you are curious or if it helps explain what I’ve been doing to understand why I feel it is clunky. http://www.chakatsden.com/chakat/Intro.html
Have you tried to address this current real world issue in a fictional story? How did it work for you?

Well for one thing, this topic feels pretty weird to me as stated, because hermaphroditic or otherwise species-inherently non-binary characters aren’t necessarily “trans”, especially if you’re using Chakats as a parallell. Chakats are not transgender characters. Chakats are chakats.

Second, is a preachy lesson of pronouns really needed? If they’re non-human, preaching about human gender issues and pronoun respect seems like cramming in something that doesn’t belong at all. “Oh silly human, my species doesn’t have male and female, we’re hermaphroditic. You don’t call me ‘him’ you call me ‘hir’.” is surely about all that’s really required? If the story itself is more centered on issues of gender and sex, of course, you’d want to delve deeper, but then you’re “preaching” in the story as it is.

If the characters are human/human derived furries and non-binary trans, of course, then it’s a different kettle of fish, but if you want to write a trans-centered story without “preaching” I don’t know how you do, because the act of writing a trans-story itself is going to be taken as some kind of statement in and of itself.

This is all true, but their use of the pronouns to an outsider is what I’m after. Look I’m not looking for a political debate. I’m just asking if you have had any success and how if you did to make this smooth and less preachy than I feel my material is. Maybe it is fine preachy. Maybe it will smooth out with editing I was just looking for other alternatives, because what I pictured in my head didn’t read as well after written.

How I’ve successfully done it is entirely dependent on the personalities of the characters in question, so I don’t have a solution for you. “It’s hir, not she, fuckhead” is valid for one character, and a four-page lecture (though probably trimmed in some way to not bore the reader) on the biology and sociology of their species, gosh, isn’t this all fascinating, now tell me everything about humans! is appropriate for another. Honestly, you might get more mileage if you post the “preachy” section in question to get specific feedback, because it’s really impossible to say if/what you’re doing that’s not working like you pictured it without seeing what you actually did.

I guess like all things worth doing there isn’t going to be an easy way. I’m reluctant to post what I don’t like until I get it looking better because of the potential lash back from people because it doesn’t come across as I want it to. I guess, it is going to have to be worked out in the editing like all of my other crap I don’t like lmfao. I swear to god I never imagined so much time editing and completely rewriting my shitty drafts would ever take place when I started this hobby.

A lot of this, as stated, will unfortunately come down to specific situations and specific character personalities. If you’re going to use non-binary pronouns (shi, hir, etc.) then that’s entirely fine, but unless the specific circumstances are known it’s a bit hard to offer advice. Also as mention, that would probably be better-suited for a beta-reading/feedback thread, so someone can give active advice.

Using the singular “they” can certainly be done; I’ve edited short stories and novellas that have done it with success. Is it easy to do? Certainly not, but it is doable with a bit of skilled wording.

No good writer will ever say that writing is easy, because it certainly isn’t, if you want to make your work good. Putting the words on the page is only step one.

Trans and intersex people who use neopronouns like “shi” or “xie” are generally the exception rather than the rule.

If you’ve got a species or culture that has hermaphroditic reproductive anatomy (like chakats) or a culture that recognizes more than two genders, or you want to emphasize a character’s unconventiality than you may use neopronouns.

Also, never call an intersex person a “hermaphrodite”, that’s considered incredibly offensive.

I’m on board with what others are saying. Really, having a species with a completely different conception of gender would be a good opportunity to just play around with the issue in the text itself. Doesn’t even have to be a major theme, per se. It can be as simple as understanding that you (the author) struggle with how to apply English pronouns here, so you can have some of your characters work through those same struggles in the story. Even some members of the species in question might struggle with English, since they might perhaps speak their own language with its own possibly more illustrative set of pronouns, or just a single pronoun for all genders, or a more fluid grammatical structure when it comes to gender. Whatever you like.

And if you want to get real crazy, you can start playing around with dialogue tags and other such things in a structured way as well, gradually shifting them around as the p.o.v. characters’ perceptions alter or as circumstances change. One of those cute things that almost no one will see on their first read-through, and even fewer will understand was intentional. And then you can get annoyed when every single one of your beta readers insists that you make all your pronouns more consistent even though the point is that they’re not supposed to be consistent, and then you ignore them, and then your editor insists on the same thing and you start to feel like you’re going insane. You know what I mean.

Just generally, the problem could be that you’re trying to find the “correct” answer, and then shoving that into the story. That might be why it’s sounding awkward to you. So see if it helps to let the characters take full control of this stuff.

I’ve been playing a little with the confusion of when to use them as well. For example, just as in the real world it isn’t always easy to tell what someone wants until they let you know, because you can’t always tell by looking at someone. Assuming can be as offensive as ignorance. I’ve been playing with the Chakats because they would look similar to a four legged ‘taur’ species with humanoid torso and arms especially since Chakats can have hybrids of other species characteristics. Therefore, you would have to look between their legs to even know they were a Chakat in order to know use their proper address or have to remember from previous introductions. I keep trying but it just reads awful so far. It is getting better with every read through… I think… maybe. lol