A.C. Wise, author of the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron set of tales, runs a blog series of "Authors to Read", featuring women and non-binary/genderqueer authors. I was surprised and pleased to be featured in her latest reviews, as she tackled my Beauty and the Beast recapture "She Must", from Capricious issue 1. It's a great reading of the story.
Wise originally pegged me as a non-binary author. In order to make sure I'm not taking up the space that belongs to wonderful nb/gq authors, I made it clear that I identify as a woman, and Wise adjusted the review to reflect that (thanks!).
Part of the author identity I am constructing is about experimenting with gender, and how this affects how my work is read. I deliberately chose gender neutral initials and bio pronouns in an effort to encourage a neutral read from an initial reader, but in this internet age it's not hard to find out that I'm a woman. Going gender neutral also gains the risk of being gendered regardless, because disguising oneself has been recognized as a very gendered thing to do in the writing industry.
I also have many complicated feelings around gender, and would love to smash the binary on a daily basis. I appreciate that some my closest writer friends understand what I'm doing, and that I don't intend to appropriate the nb/gq experience. However, intention isn't magic, and many people will read me and my work different. If anyone has issue how I go about this identity with regards to appropriation, I am more than open to discussion.
What I'm doing with my author identity is part Tiptree, part experimentation, part seat of the pants. We've still got a long way to go in literature before gender doesn't inform reading. I may not be entirely successful in smashing the binary on socially coded reading in my life time, but I'd like to give it a damn good try.
Sometimes I'm not entirely sure what or who AJ Fitzwater will become, and I appreciate my community's willingness to let me experiment and stretch.
(Parts of this blog post appeared originally in some of my Tweets 27/10/2015)