I’m still working my way through the second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender. (No spoilers, please!) I felt similarly to Luce about the first season, and while I really want to like the characters, most of them still feel stuck in stereotypical ruts. That said, I do find Pidge an incredibly intriguing character. As a tremendously smart and techy girl who was undercover as a boy (or, at least, people assumed she was a boy and she didn’t correct them) so she could find her missing family, she already has a much more complex backstory than most of the dude Paladins. On top of this, one of my favorite theories/headcanons coming out of Season 1 was that Pidge was trans. While my own personal headcanon leans more toward a genderqueer/nonbinary Pidge, this fanfic paints an excellent and thoughtful picture of Pidge as a trans girl.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like,” Katie said fiercely to her reflection. She’d shorn her hair at a savage angle. The glasses, huge for her face, made her look younger somehow.
But she remembered being twelve, and how peculiarly and wondrously free she had felt after the last surgery, even through the pain and the itching and the dizzying fog of the analgesic medication. No more surgeries, no more knives and bright lights blinding in her eyes. No more breathing deep of gas and thinking, this time, this time.
“Katie,” Mom called up the stairs. Her voice was worn. “Sweetheart? I’m ordering take-out. I’m too tired to cook tonight…”
She closed her vanity drawers and forced a smile for her reflection. Even this was wrong: it had none of the sneaky edge her smiles liked.
“It’s okay, Mom,” said Katie brightly. “How about sushi? I’d like sushi.”
Katie stood. She brushed off her skirt and shook the pleats in place. “I’m doing this for Mom, too,” Katie told her reflection. Mom would be teaching for the semester in Italy, so she wouldn’t even notice Katie was gone for a couple weeks, maybe longer if she assumed Katie was safe at school.
She stared hardly at the mirror, at the person who looked back at her. This is me, she thought. This is who I have to be to find them. It was a coldness that was on her, an analytical certainty. Pidge would take it apart and remake it.
The Shape of You isn’t told chronologically; rather, it pulls a series of vignettes from Pidge’s life in random order, jumping from her announcement to her parents that she was Katie and not Patrick anymore, to her decision to enlist at the space training school, to her time as a Paladin.
Given that the series is set in a reasonably distant future, Katie doesn’t have to deal with a lot of outside transphobia. Her family is super supportive and never questions her feelings about her gender. However, although fic!Pidge doesn’t seem to have experienced a ton of dysphoria because of her supportive environment and early transitioning, it’s still not easy for her to intentionally disguise herself as a boy to go after her missing father and brother. And keeping her secret makes it harder for her to open up to her classmates or make friends within the garrison, even though Hunk and Lance seem to attach themselves to her anyway.
Barkour’s fic is super well characterized, in some cases giving characters like Lance and Hunk more depth than the show itself typically does, and it’s full of heartwarming moments of camaraderie, affirmation, and self-determination. However, it doesn’t let you forget that Pidge’s story does have some angst—she’s still a runaway with MIA family members who are probably Galra prisoners. These elements are balanced well, though, and take the fic from a simple fluff piece to a thoughtful character study.
The Shape of You is a quick read at just over 4,000 words—I definitely recommend you check it out here at the AO3!
Hear more from Lady Saika on Character Reveal, the podcast she cohosts with BrothaDom!