Fanfiction is often used to give representation to minorities that wouldn’t normally be featured in the mainstream media. While this doesn’t always work out, fanfiction in general has done a decent job at providing representation, especially queer representation. And while most fanfiction featuring queer relationships is comprised of slash fanfiction (fanfiction featuring male/male pairings), some efforts have been made to give more representation to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, last month was Femslash February, which focused on celebrating queer women. Fanfiction authors who wanted more ace representation have started Asexy April. So while the majority of queer pairings in fanfiction are still m/m pairings, there has been a push in the fanfiction community for more inclusion.
However, when it comes to transgender, intersex, and non-binary characters, there is noticeably less representation, both in mainstream media and in fanfiction. Recently, I have seen some more trans and non-binary headcanons, but there are still very few intersex headcanons. Headcanons, for those of you that might not know, are fans’ personal idea about characters which could fit into the existing canon of a show, even if the show itself has little to support the idea. Usually headcanons have some sort of explanation or evidence to back them up.
So to encourage people to write more fanfiction with trans, intersex, and non-binary characters, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite headcanons.
My absolute favorite trans headcanon is DFAB (designated female at birth) Dean Winchester from Supernatural. I think I like DFAB Dean Winchester so much because it actually makes a lot of sense and really doesn’t change much of the original canon for the character. Dean would still identify as male and still act as macho and sex-crazed as he usually does, but he would also be a trans character. This headcanon also makes sense given the background behind Dean’s name. Mary Winchester, Dean’s mom, named Dean for her mother Deanna and Sam for her father. Traditionally, though,
parents would name each son after one of their dads. So if Mary and John Winchester were going to name Sam and Dean after their dads, you would think they would be named Sam and Henry. If, because John hated his dad, he decided not to name one of his sons after him, you would still think that the oldest son, Dean, would have been named Sam. This led some people to believe that Dean’s birth name was Deanna, but after transitioning or simply after realizing he identified as male, he started going by Dean. It’s pretty cool that this headcanon works so well in canon, which is probably the reason I love it so much. (Note: You can find this headcanon pretty easily if you search FTM!Dean Winchester. FTM means female to male, but is an outdated and problematic term.)
Another one of my favorite headcanons, which I discovered recently thanks to the blog hiddenhogwarts, is DMAB (designated male at birth) Luna Lovegood. I absolutely adore the idea of Luna or any Hogwarts character being trans and using magic to help themselves transition, or getting some special magical treatment from Madame Pomfrey to transition. With the Harry Potter universe, there are so many fun possibilities to explore.
Non-binary character heacanons are a bit more difficult because they usually feature characters that aren’t human, which, as I have explained before, is problematic because it wrongly promotes the idea that humans can’t be genderqueer. But as always, there is one fandom that comes to the rescue when it comes to good and diverse representation, and that’s Welcome to Night Vale. Non-binary Cecil Palmer is one of my favorite headcanons. Since Cecil is never really described, he is the perfect character for fans to use to gain more representation. In the Welcome to Night Vale fandom you can find a ton of trans, intersex, and non-binary headcanons for numerous characters, proving once again how awesome this fandom really is.
Intersex headcanons, as I mentioned earlier, are a lot more difficult to find. I have seen some intersex Cecil handcanons, but I think my favorite might be an intersex genderfluid Loki. The reason I like this headcanon so much is because it fits Loki pretty well. It’s recently been revealed that Loki is canonically genderfluid, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t also be intersex. Admittedly, since Loki is a non-human character, this does fall into potentially the same problem that I mentioned earlier. However, despite being super-strong and powerful, Loki, Thor, and most of the other characters in Marvel’s Thor are human-passing, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Loki to be intersex in a way that other intersex readers could actually relate to. And if Loki were intersex and genderfluid, his shapeshifting abilities would allow Loki to change his outward appearances depending on
how Loki wanted to present at the moment, whether that was masculine, feminine, or more androgynous.
Transgender, intersex, and non-binary people get little to no representation in mainstream media. Online, it isn’t much easier, with both cisgender and non-cis-identifying people being ridiculed for having trans, intersex, and non-binary headcanons. I myself remember being told what an awful person I was for even suggesting a DFAB Dean. It’s one thing to critique someone’s problematic headcanons, but denying people the right to representation even with the headcanons they mention online is wrong. There are only two trans female characters on TV right now, Candis Cayne (Elementary) and Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black),
plus one minor character in DC’s current run of Batgirl, and one in Marvel’s recently cancelled FF title. The few non-binary characters are all non-human, and there are literally no intersex characters to speak of in mainstream media. Our society is denying people representation; let’s not allow that online or in fanfiction. Let’s have more trans, intersex, and non-binary headcanons and fanfiction!
Just a note, some transgender individuals find shape-shifting transgender characters to be offensive (e.g. this writer http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7257723.Mikki_Whitworth has told me “That’s trans porn”). I hadn’t heard/though of the point about non-binary folks being portrayed as non-humans, that’s interesting.
I have a headcanon case for trans* Hermione: When Ron looks at Hermione and says, “You’re a girl!” in book 4, is Hermione offended because (a) she’s a girl, duh or (b) Ron’s now guilty of misgendering but wasn’t when treating Hermione as one of the guys? (In this reading, Hermione was DFAB.) Hermione doesn’t seem to have any instinct to associate with girls/women, which doesn’t necessarily reflect on one’s own gender but I think can be a sign sometimes.
Some queer fanfic plots I’ve written:
-HP: An asexual Dudley develops a scrying ability (hey, it’s never established that seers have to be full wizards, and Dudley obviously has some magical heritage since his mother’s sister was a witch) while in hiding with his family, and learns that his asexuality doesn’t mean he’ll be isolated when he makes good friends with a witch who helps him in espionage against Death Eater-supplying corporations. Then they have to save his foolish parents from their own ridiculous, life-threatening mistakes.
-Naruto: Rin (set before it was revealed what happened to her) sustains a head injury as a youth and forgets her ninja team and time in the war. Believed dead, she’s sent on a mission to teach the healing arts to tribal peoples in the mountains near Cloud (I am never particularly canon-compliant with Naruto fanfics because I can’t stand the canon), as a way of fighting an indirect war against Cloud without breaking the peace. Injured in a bomb blast, she (ze) has zir assistant repair zir chest in a masculine way, and enjoys being gender-ambiguous enough to develop a testosterone potion and grow facial hair, get a deeper voice. In the religion of the tribes, zir androgyny and the knowledge ze brings is considered a sign of zir closeness to the twin androgynous gods, Dawn and Dusk, zir role one of holding Dawn’s hope in the world by preventing untimely deaths. When ze becomes close to a clan that’s dying from starvation and disease, and with a change of leadership back in Konoha and secrets long revealed to the enemy, ze gets permission to come back to Konoha with the tribe, and Kakashi ends up questioning his own identity when he falls for this “stranger.”
-Pokemon original games: The main character (based on the one you play) is a young prodigy, skipping through grades to graduate around age 12 and go off doing research for Professor Oak, at the same time as with zir rival and best human friend (though they can’t say that to each other), Oak’s disfavored grandson. Leaf (the main character) is intersex and was originally designated female, and later had that taken away and was designated male by a doctor. Ze rescues a gynandromorphic caterpie from some bullies as a child, and that butterfree becomes zir closest companion until the Pokemon can’t survive the forced separation once Leaf is jailed for leading a dual identity as a member of Team Rocket, doing research and other work with various people and betraying nearly all of them, and finally bringing Rocket down from the inside. Leaf tends to go with whatever gender other people see zir as (it’s told from Leaf’s first-person and various third-persons, who all use different pronouns when they think of Leaf) but often has a deep longing for some aspect of zirself to be recognized by whichever person brings that out. (For instance, Gary/Blue is the only one who knows Leaf’s full non-binary identity, understands it, and calls zir “ze”. Bill sees Leaf as a girl and they have an inappropriate semi-romantic thing going on when Leaf is about 16, before Leaf exposes zirself bringing down Rocket and stands trial and it comes out that Leaf was stealing Bill’s research and giving it to Rocket during their friendship. Leaf deeply desires Bill’s approval for her feminine side.) A lot of it’s an exploration of identity and how multi-faceted that is: For instance, Blue went through a stage of going by Gary publicly, since Blue didn’t seem sophisticated enough, or just to spite his mother, but has always let Leaf know that Blue is the name he really sees himself as. Leaf takes the name Red for zir Rocket activities, implicitly defining zirself by Blue while taking the very step that leads to zir disengaging from their friendship/rivalry, and wears a mask with a pattern based on his intersex butterfree’s wings (birds and insects’ biological sex is determined by genes, not hormones as it is in mammals, so if the female and male of a species have different colorings, the intersex one will have different colorings as well). Blue is gay and in love with Leaf but doesn’t think he can act on that since he doesn’t think he can be attracted to Leaf’s body–which Leaf purposefully prevents from developing secondary sexual characteristics while working with Bill on his human-to-Pokemon-transformation technology.
Okay, probably no one cares, but, yes, you can take a deep dive into various queernesses while writing fanfic!
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If you’re interested, I’ve written four fics with trandgender characters. You can find them at AO3.
Question! I’ve never really understood what intersex means, could somebody explain it to me?
It’s a bit late, but as a friendly Ravenclaw:
inter is latin and is translated: between. Therefore, the explanation is easy: ambiguous genitalia, neither fully male nor fully female, something in-between.
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