Thursday, August 1, 2019

When Nature Says 'Hold My Beer'

Bear with me. I have a story to tell. This is Perceval. Perceval was rescued by a neighbor who presented the kitten for foster care as a 'he'. Then 'he' went into heat. He became she and (because of the aforementioned heat) developed a raging urinary tract infection. A sterile draw (with a needle and syringe) of urine at the emergency vet revealed a new mystery. Perceval had sperm swimming in her bladder.

Yes. I have male cats. They're shooting blanks. Have been since December of last year.

Thus, the vet proposed the notion that Perceval might just be both 'he' AND 'she'. Jeffe, on Instagram, instantly proposed swapping out Perceval's pronoun to They. Motion seconded, voted upon, and passed. Surgery was undertaken. It was a spay - there was a uterus and nothing more internally. Had Perceval been a true hermaphrodite, there would have been a set of male gonads as well as the female reproductive organs. There weren't. However, the doctor did point out that Perceval's external genitalia are ambiguous. While there's clearly female anatomy, it appears that a pair of testicles also tried to develop. They never fully formed, so the cat didn't have to have a neuter surgery on top of a spay surgery. And the mystery of the sperm in the bladder? We may never know. Subsequent checks of the boy cats confirms they're in the clear.

What does this have to do with writing characters in SFF? Simply this: Nature and life recently proved to me that they are far too ready, willing, and able to shatter our preconceived notions about gender, sex, and identity. So getting hung up on any kind of either/or question about who's what and therefore gets to love whom, when writing seems silly. SF and Fantasy is, to me, about who characters are as individuals - including their identities, preferences, marginalization, and how they cope. This may be privilege speaking, because I'm part of a population that doesn't often have to get to grips with being in mortal peril simply for existing. I suspect that shows in my writing because while I have a trans character, a bisexual main character, PoC as main characters - in my stories, these people are rarely under threat based on being either bi, or a PoC, or trans. Mainly because part of the joy of SF and Fantasy for me is getting to dabble in a world that's much broader than this one - one that encompasses possibilities and embraces them. I'd like to think that makes me idealistic rather than simply naive. Or worse, hurtful.

Honestly. Does anyone really think that when we finally do run into life out there in the stars that they're gonna all be CIShet/clear binary with no richness? No variety? No specialization and adaptation? If yes, do you science at all? Cause yeah, nature doesn't work that way. And so long as I'm writing, neither will I.


  1. Ha! I just read SPACE OPERA by Valente and the main character, a male, becomes pregnant after meeting alien life. There are so many possibilities!!