Fictional depictions of nonbinary gender

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This list of fictional depictions of nonbinary gender is for taking note of all examples of nonbinary gender identity in fiction in any kind of media. The media includes animation, board and card games, books and other literature, comics and graphic novels, movies, performance, TV, webseries, and video games. Since most people don't know that people can have a nonbinary gender identity, the way that nonbinary genders are represented in fiction can be a valuable part of nonbinary visibility and awareness. Fiction can also be an outlet for nonbinary people to explore their identities and the possibilities of society's attitudes toward them. These are reasons why representation matters. It's very rare for fiction to have any real representation of nonbinary gender. It's almost as rare for characters to have an undisclosed gender, or to have a fictional sex, which almost but not really counts as nonbinary representation. They're close enough that they are dealt with on this page anyway, since sometimes the distinctions aren't clear.

There is a difference between being born with a physical intersex condition, and having a nonbinary gender identity. Many intersex people identify as just female or male, not nonbinary. Many nonbinary people were not intersex, meaning they were assigned female at birth or assigned male at birth. If a character has a real-life kind of intersex condition, you should still list them on this page only if they also have a nonbinary gender identity.

If you add a piece of media to this list, please tell exactly which character is nonbinary, and how this is told in canon, or your entry will be deleted. Don't include media here that just has a popular "headcanon" (a fan's imaginary interpretation) of a nonbinary character, because this isn't representation. Please give direct quotes from canon that are evidence that the character is nonbinary.


Undisclosed gender in fiction

Undisclosed gender in fiction is when some characters have their gender and sex hidden and not told about. This might be kept a secret for the entire story. Readers and viewers can only guess about the character's gender, or they can be comfortable with not knowing. This can be an interesting device in fiction that makes us take notice of our assumptions and stereotypes. However, it isn't really the same thing as representation of nonbinary gender identities in fiction. A character whose gender is never explicitly stated could be nonbinary, especially if their gender expression involves going to great efforts to make sure nobody knows their gender. However, they could just as likely be female, or male. What makes someone nonbinary is if they identify as nonbinary. However, in this case the viewers don't get to know how that character identifies. Also note that looking androgynous doesn't mean that someone identifies as an androgyne.

See main article: undisclosed gender in fiction.

Fictional sexes

Fictional sexes are when some characters have a nonbinary gender identity only because they have a fictional kind of a physical sex. Their sex is different than female, male, or any kind of real-life intersex condition. For example, a robot that never had a physical sex, and might be correspondingly genderless. Or characters who have the fictional ability to change their sex at will, and might be said to have a corresponding genderfluid identity. Or an alien species that reproduces by different means than humans, resulting in an alien culture with different gender roles. The fictional sexes are used as justification for these characters having nonbinary gender identities. No real nonbinary people have these sexes, and can't use that justification. As such, these kinds of characters don't really count as nonbinary representation in fiction.

See main article: fictional sexes.

Gender nonconformity in fiction

This section is for characters who are gender nonconforming but have a binary gender identity. That is, they identify as female, or as male, and are therefore not nonbinary. In significant ways, the characters don't conform to the expectations and norms for their gender. Fans may describe these characters as genderqueer, which may be accurate. A character who is gender nonconforming and/or genderqueer isn't necessarily nonbinary, since they may still have a strictly binary gender identity, and they may also be cisgender. For example, a character who says something like, "I'm all man, and wearing a pink dress doesn't make me any less of a man" is gender nonconforming and perhaps genderqueer, but definitely not nonbinary.

Animation

  • In the comedy series SheZow, the legacy of a super-heroine has been passed down through generations of grand-aunts to grand-nieces when they inherit a magic ring that grants feminine-themed powers. For the first time, the ring is inherited by a boy, Guy Hamdon. Whenever he's being SheZow, which entails wearing a pink costume with a skirt and long hair, he has to keep up the appearance of being a girl in order to protect his secret identity. If anyone finds out who SheZow really is, his whole family will have to be relocated to the moon. Aside from his hair, SheZow's body doesn't change, and he has to remember to speak in a higher voice. Shezow often insists that his friends who are in the know need to call him by "she" pronouns whenever he appears in public as SheZow, and grumbles whenever they mess it up. When a friend hesitates and asks in private which pronoun Guy prefers, Guy shrugs and replies, "Eh, it depends on what I'm wearing." In other words, Guy's pronoun preference while being SheZow is "she," and is "he" while in his secret identity. Guy overcomes his initial discomfort and finds empowerment and confidence in femininity, even while remaining happily masculine when presenting as a boy. While this comfortable alternation between male and female presentations could be seen as a genderfluid or bigender character, the show creator has stated in an interview that, to the best of his understanding, this isn't so: "SheZow is not transgendered. He's a boy, his gender never changes, he's just trapped in a silly costume."[1] As such, Shezow/Guy is a gender nonconforming cisgender boy.
    • There are other gender noncomforming characters in Shezow than the title character. Shezow's evil clone, Shezap, can look like Guy or like Shezow. When they open a portal to a gender-swapped alternative universe, Shezow discovers that the version of herself there is Dudepow, a hero with masculine-themed powers who is secretly a girl.

Nonbinary genders in fiction

This section is for the most true-to-life representation of nonbinary gender identities. The story explicitly says that they don't identify as a woman or man, but as a different gender.The characters aren't nonbinary because of having fictional sexes. Their physical sexes and genders assigned at birth are non-intersex or a real-life intersex condition. If their physical sex or gender assigned at birth is undisclosed, their gender identity is still explicitly, specifically labeled as not female or male, but something else. They may or may not take a social or physical transition in their gender expression. They may or may not look androgynous. They may or may not go by gender-neutral pronouns.

Audio

  • In the podcast series Welcome To Night Vale, there are several non-binary characters who are referred to with "they" pronouns. Recurring non-binary characters include a scientist named Alice and the town's new Sheriff, Sam.

Board and Card Games

  • “Ashiok” from the popular card game Magic: The Gathering is explicitly referred to as being nongendered. Though some depictions of the character include “he” as a pronoun, a lead designer from the company that makes the game has insisted on numerous occasions that the character is explicitly nongendered.[2] Even going so far as to write stories which avoid referring to Ashiok using gendered pronouns at all.[3] Ashiok's card can be found here.

Books and other literature

  • Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo
  • River of the Gods and Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald - India, 2050, with interesting subplots about Hijra.
  • Crooked Words by K. A. Cook has several short stories about characters who are explicitly said to be nonbinary. The character Chris cultivates an androgynous appearance, and asks to be called by "they" pronouns. Chris is in the short stories "Blue Paint, Chocolate and Other Similes" and "Everything In A Name."[4] In "The Differently Animated and Queer Society," the queer-identified characters Pat and Moon go by "ze, hir" and "ou" pronouns, respectively.[5] In "Misstery Man," the self-described non-binary character Darcy asks to be called by "ey and eir" pronouns.[6]
  • Greg Egan's novel Distress (1995) includes transgender humans who identify as a specific nonbinary gender they call "asex", called by ve pronouns.[7]
  • In Kameron Hurley's fantasy novel, Empire Ascendant, all people in a consent culture get to choose which of the five gender roles they identify with. Hurley calls characters who are "ungendered" by singular they pronouns.[8]
  • In a short sci-fi story by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, "Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade" (2013), one of the characters is described as a "neutrois," and called by "they" pronouns.[9][10]
  • Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, about a butch named Jess Goldberg and the trials and tribulations she faces growing up in the United States before the Stonewall riots. Feinberg defines butch as a gender identity neither female nor male.
  • Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino
  • In Surface Detail, the character Yime Nsokyi is "neuter-gendered" and has an intersex body by choice.
  • At the end of "Freakboy", the main character, Brendan Chase identifies themselves as genderfluid. The book is primarily about their transition, and does end on a depressing note regarding their gender."
  • In Sam Farren's novel "Dragonoak: The Complete History of Kastelir" (2015) and its sequel "Dragonoak: The Sky Beneath the Sun" (2015), several nonbinary characters play important roles. All of them use "they" pronouns and are only described in gender-neutral terms. Their gender is not their defining feature - the novel's fictional society treats nonbinary genders as just as normal as binary ones. The author also identifies as nonbinary.
  • The main character in "Damsel Knight" by Sam Austin spends much of the book gender questioning, and ends questioning but also settled into an identity somewhere between male and female. She eventually chooses female pronouns and a male name,

Webcomics

  • But I'm A Cat Person by Erin Ptah - Urban fantasy webcomic featuring a bigender character - Timothy/Camellia Mattei - as well as numerous 'Beings' who are able to take on both male and female forms. Also features various LGB characters. Updates three times a week.
  • El Goonish Shive includes a main character who identifies as genderfluid several years into the comic. Author Dan Shive has said that Tedd, like the author, has always been genderfluid but did not realise there was a word for it or even a concept of being nonbinary until much later in life. The comic also includes various other LGBT characters as well as shapeshifting technology.
  • Eth's Skin by Sfé R. Monster - Fantasy webcomic featuring a genderqueer protagonist - Eth. Fairly new, but the 'About' page suggests plans to include more nonbinary characters. Updates weekly.
  • Ignition Zero by Noel Arthur Heimpel - An urban fantasy webcomic that features a genderqueer character - Neve Copeland - as one of its protagonists. Updates weekly.
  • Job Satisfaction by Jey Barnes - a slice of life webcomic about two queer nonbinary demon summoners - Lemme and Sinh - who live together. The comic is rated PG-13 and updates once a week.
  • Kyle & Atticus by Sfé R Monster - Webcomic about the adventures of a genderqueer teenager, Kyle, and their robot friend, Attticus. Currently on hiatus.
  • Rain by Jocelyn Samara - A light-hearted high-school webcomic that follows a trans girl and her friends, including Ky(lie), an AFAB genderfluid character who alternates between presenting as male and female. Also features a range of other LGBTQ characters. Updates three times a week.
  • The 'New 52' version of Secret Six introduces new character Kami / Porcelain, who is genderfluid and has been shown presenting as male, female and androgynously.
  • Shades of A (NSFW) by Tab Kimpton - Webcomic that focuses on asexual relationships, as well as exploring various aspects of kink, and features a prominent nonbinary character (JD). Contains nudity and BDSM. Updates twice a week.
Tapastic webcomics
  • 6ses by Kagome features an agender protagonist.
  • Eri the Cyborg by Ren features an agender protagonist.
  • Snailed It by SnaiLords, who "identifies with both genders" and described themselves as an "andogynous snail".
  • Tattoo'd by Antonia Bea features an intersex, genderfluid protagonist.
  • Your Local Non-Binary is written by and features non-binary person Eliot Lime.

Movies

  • In "The Kings of Summer," Biaggio asserts that he doesn't see himself as "having a gender."

TV

  • The Canadian magical-realism comedy series The Switch (still in development) features a non-binary character, Chris, who uses "zie/zir" pronouns, and works as an assassin.

Webseries

  • In Carmilla, the character Lafontaine is nonbinary and goes by they/them/their pronouns. They have been confirmed as nonbinary by the show's creators, and have hinted at it through the series though it has never been a major plot point.
  • Couple-ish, a light-hearted rom-com webseries, features a nonbinary main character (Dee). Dee goes by they/them/their pronouns, and explicitly describes themselves as nonbinary in one episode.

Video games

  • In Crypt of the Necrodancer, the game's artist stated that the unlockable character Bolt is genderqueer and uses they/them pronouns; this was further confirmed by the game's official Twitter.
  • In Transistor, the gender marker for Bailey Gilande in her character file is 'X', commonly used by, or in regards to, non-binary people.
  • VERSUS: The Lost Ones by Zachary Sergi (published in 2015 by Choice of Games LLC) is a sci-fi interactive novel where it's possible to play a nonbinary character. The player's character, Thomil, comes from a planet where everyone telepathically shares their thoughts and feelings with one another. A couple chapters into the story, the player is asked about their character's gender. They can choose from six options: a cisgender woman, transgender woman, cis man, trans man, intersex, or "I don't subscribe to any gender categories". Choosing the last option sets Thomil's stats to say "Gender: Not Applicable," and brings up these remarks in the narrative: "You are both genders, but you are also neither gender. You believe gender defies categorization, operating on a kind of sliding scale-- one that can change every day. You've come across [foreign planets'] texts about other cultures where such thinking is considered taboo or even sacrilegious, but in a society where everyone can quite literally share their thoughts and experiences, it's fairly impossible not to accept others once you understand who they truly are. Besides, even the most staunchly 'male' or 'female' cisgenders admit that sometimes they feel more 'masculine' or 'feminine' at different times. You just take that kind of thinking to a whole new level." The narration in VERSUS makes clear that this is not an undisclosed gender or a fantasy sex, but a nonbinary gender identity. Though Thomil comes from a sci-fi setting where where this and other transgender identities are accepted, this is a realistic depiction of a nonbinary person.
  • In Long Story Game the character you play use whichever pronouns from 'she/her', 'he/him' and 'them/they', the physical depiction of the character can also be changed to suit the gender of choice.
  • In Read Only Memories the character TOMCAT uses they/them pronouns. While it is not directly stated in-game that TOMCAT is nonbinary, artist and director John James has stated in an interview that TOMCAT "is gender fluid"[11].The game also includes other non-binary characters, including the robot Turing and the protagonist if the player chooses so.
    A screenshot of pronoun selection in Read Only Memories. Selecting 'more options' allows you to choose from 'ze/zir/, 'xe/xir', or your own custom pronouns.
  • In NiGHTS into Dreams the character "NiGHTS is neutral, and therefore has no gender. The impressions of the character with regards to gender are totally up to the player" according to Takashi Iizuka, the lead designer of the game.[12]

See also

External links

References

  1. Reiher, Andrea (1 June 2013). "'SheZow' creator talks 'transsexual' criticism, a 'coming out' episode and more". Zap2It. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  2. A Voice for Vorthos – Posts tagged with “Ashiok”, Retrieved 29th September 2014, Doug Beyer’s Blog – A Voice for Vorthos.
  3. A Voice for Vorthos – Ok so when are we going to learn more about the specifics about Ashiok? Ashiok is not in the first novel at all and nothing is depicted in the cards.', 7th May 2014, Doug Beyer’s Blog – A Voice for Vorthos.
  4. K. A. Cook, Crooked Words. Unpaged.
  5. K. A. Cook, "The Differently Animated and Queer Society." Crooked Words. Unpaged.
  6. K. A. Cook, "Misstery Man." Crooked Words. Unpaged.
  7. John McIntosh, "ve, vis, ver." [1]
  8. Kameron Hurley, "Beyond He-Man and She-Ra: Writing nonbinary characters." https://intellectusspeculativus.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/guest-post-beyond-he-man-she-ra-writing-non-binary-characters-by-kameron-hurley/
  9. Alex Dally MacFarlane, "Post-Binary Gender in SF: ExcitoTech and Non-Binary Pronouns." June 3, 2014. Tor. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/06/post-binary-gender-in-sf-excitotech-and-non-binary-pronouns
  10. Benjanun Sriduangkaew, "Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade." Clarkesworld Magazine. 2013. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/sriduangkaew_12_13/
  11. Jesse Tannous, "Read Only Memories Director discusses LGBTQ themes in gaming." June 20, 2015. The Examiner. http://www.examiner.com/article/read-only-memories-director-discusses-lgbtq-themes-gaming
  12. Mike Taylor, "Interview: Takashi Iizuka Talks NiGHTS" December 5, 2007. Nintendo Life http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2007/12/interview_takashi_iizuka_talks_nights