Storify: Queer Coding Characters and Re-Pronouning Historical People

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads. 

This is an opinion piece on how certain trends make me feel. I know not everyone will agree with it and that's okay. I thought about deleting the piece but eventually decided to keep it with this caveat.

One of the things we do need to talk about with this Trans Snape thing (a fan-theory that Snape was secretly a trans woman in the books), and the Gay LeFou in Beauty and the Beast thing is context.

Villains are often feminized and/or queer-coded.

Why? Because queerness and femininity are villainized by the patriarchy.

We have people who don't recognize this pattern picking up on feminine or queer coding in villains and not realizing the harm. A lot of us are starving for rep, but "oh, this villainous person must be queer because of their coding!" probably isn't something to celebrate? More often than not, feminine/queer coding isn't boiled into villains to represent us; it's placed there to villainize us.

I'm...................just a bit tired of this thing where we celebrate villains and forget that they are villains. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is not a Queer Heroine or Fat Goals or whatever. She forcibly transforms innocent people and imprisons them! In a very trans narrative story about a trans girl under the sea, Ursula takes Ariel's voice and changes her body to something she hates and loathes. Snape hurls a racist term at the woman he "loves" when she refuses to be with him, then terrorizes her son and his classmates. He's also an on-again / off-again member of the local magical white supremacist Nazis.

Anyone can like villains (I like villains!), but please recognize that they are villains and that queer-coding them isn't complimentary to us. People like villains because they are interesting and bring conflict into a story, but forgetting they are bad people and tagging them as "life goals!" is just? No, not all trans/queer/feminine characters need to be paragons of virtue. What I am saying is that trans/queer/feminine coding of villains is not representation. It's vilification. Don't expect me to cheer.

WHILE I HAVE YOU HERE: Please do not use pronouns for a canon character (i.e., not a fanfic version of the character) or a real person (dead or alive) that they haven't expressed are correct? Pronouns are not 1-to-1 tied to gender and they're complicated and personal and not something other people get to decide. I've seen people "trans headcanon" dead authors and historical figures and living celebrities, then give them new pronouns. To me, that is very hostile to autonomy.

Names and pronouns are a person's choice. We have to fight so hard for people to use our names and pronouns in our life and again in our death. Having own-side people come along and use different names and pronouns for others without being told to do so? To me, that hurts. I feel it contributes to a culture which imposes names and pronouns onto us instead of letting us decide, as well as suggesting that name- and pronoun-changes are mandatory for transness. Many of us don't change those things!

I know we're desperate for representation and recognition, and I understand and sympathize strongly with the desire to give historical queers the recognition they perhaps felt unsafe seeking in life--plus, there's a very real need to push back against erasure in the cases where we do know names and pronouns but cis people have erased them and refused. But there's a big difference (to me!) between "Hans Christian Andersen might have been transgender if he'd had that framework of words and concepts available to him and felt safe to use them", versus "Hans Christian Andersen described his nature as 'feminine', therefore I'm using she/her pronouns for her going forward." Like. First:

[Quoting @vesaldi] Men can be feminine. Repeat after me. MEN CAN BE FEMININE.

Second, not all trans people walk the same journey. We don't all change names, we don't all change pronouns. That's okay! That's valid! We're still trans even if we use the same names and pronouns all our lives. Transness doesn't require changing those things.


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