F. Wesley Schneider

Writer, Editor, Game Designer, Sineater












I finally saw the new episode of Sailor Moon Crystal: Jupiter.


It’s like they listened to all those rumors from the original series about Makoto being trans and…

I’m sorry but.. seriously? what bullshit is this? ANOTHER one of those posts that insists that someone isn’t biologically a woman but a trans female?

Because yes, ciswomen can’t do ANY of those things you listed above JESUS >.>;

I’m fairly sure I’m going to regret getting involved, but:

I think you’re missing the point. Bear with me for a few minutes.

When you meet a real person and don’t know all the details of their background, it’s simply because you don’t know those details. They exist. If you meet a tall, leggy, tomboyish redheaded teen who mentions being ostracized at her last school and is fascinated with wedding dresses, there is an objective truth: either she is trans, or she isn’t. There are years and years and millions of details about her that you don’t know, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, and that you can’t learn them. It doesn’t mean she can’t correct you if you’re wrong in your assumptions about her.

Fictional characters, on the other hand, only imply having the same amount of background as real characters, at least if they’re well-written. You may feel like you know, say, Caroline on The Vampire Diaries well (to pick a character whose crafted shape I admire), you may feel like she’s a fleshed-out human, but if you actually add up all the time she has onscreen, it’s shockingly little. A few hours, max, over the course of a multi-season TV show. And while there may be a bit more about her in a writer’s bible somewhere, those paltry few hours of screentime are all of her that actually exists. It’s not that she has years and years of experiences and millions of tiny details that you simply don’t know—all of that stuff that makes up a complete real human being does not exist for her. She’s written in a way to invite you to assume it, but you actually know almost nothing concrete about her. 

What exists, instead, is what writers (and people who study writing) like to call “white space.” It’s all those details that the writer, intentionally or unintentionally, doesn’t fill in for the reader/viewer. They’re a blank canvas onto which the reader projects their own assumptions about the character. That’s a big part of what helps us empathize with fictional characters (and why a lot of people feel closer to or more inspired by fictional characters than by real people they know). 

And part of what makes stories and the characters in them so compelling is that they work that way for most of their readers or viewers. Your version of Portia in The Merchant of Venice may have to steel herself before she goes in to make her famous speech about the quality of mercy, because she might have stage fright. Mine improvises the whole thing and speaks from the heart because that’s how public speaking works for me. I assume her silences in the script when men say stupid stuff to or around her are filled with a wry smile, because she knows she can talk circles around them when it comes to it. I assume she has compassion in her heart for Shylock, but others have seen coldness there, and all of Portia that exists (117 lines, including what are basically “yes” and “no” answers — I speak more than that in a single day of work!) doesn’t confirm or contradict either interpretation. 

Shakespeare might have been able to tell us that one way or the other isn’t how he imagined her, but even in that case, it’s up to you how much authority you think what’s in an author’s head has, versus how the character actually comes out. 

And millions — heck, over the course of history, billions — of people have identified with and been inspired by and found commonality and comfort and strength from characters in stories, all of that made possible by that white space being inscribed with their own assumptions and hopes and imagination. 

So any random female character for whom you don’t see a birth scene with a doctor exclaiming, “It’s a girl!” is, in essence, Schrodinger’s trans woman. That history of being identified as a girl from day one (or NOT being identified as a girl from day one) doesn’t actually exist for that character. (For that matter, any female character who doesn’t have a relationship with a man onscreen or on the page is Schrodinger’s lesbian.)

What you wrote in the white space for Makoto is a history in which she’s always been identified by others as female. That’s fine! That’s cool! That’s completely valid. 

What rambleonamazon and other trans women have written in that space is a history in which she wasn’t. 

What she wrote in that space doesn’t have to erase what you wrote, for you. But similarly, you don’t get to tell her what she has to write on that canvas for herself (or for anyone else who wants to share her version). Neither version is objectively right or wrong, because those details don’t exist. (And honestly, even if they did, what would it matter? Reinterpreting fictional characters has been the work of writers and artists and daydreaming children and actors and creative adults since humans first started telling each other stories. It’s how Inanna became Ishtar and Aphrodite got a thousand different faces.)

Trans women have so few positive fictional portrayals, too, that are explicitly trans that interpreting Schrodinger’s trans/cis women as trans looks to me, at least as an admittedly privileged cis woman, as the course of sanity in a world that tells them that they’re not beautiful, not worth telling stories about, not capable of being heroines. 

So, I guess my question to you would be: no one’s telling you what you can or can’t write in your white space for Makoto, so why are you trying to erase what others are writing in theirs?


Just one of the myriad reasons I adore Jessica Price.

Jessica Price; hero.


Natalie Andrewson’s Story Artwork for Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily ***
For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him.
                                                                  ~Faulkner, A Rose for Emily