So I'm in the very early stages of plot development on a new story. It focuses on a (nonbinary, hence the they/them pronouns) witch named Kem who recently discovered their powers and met some friendly demons. It's kind of an action-fantasy book, and it's not about any real world issues, it's about Kem navigating the world they've recently been introduced to and fighting evil and stuff like that.

The book isn't about the fact that Kem is nonbinary, it just so happens that that's who Kem is, and I'm not trying to focus on LGBT issues or nonbinary rights or activism or anything, I'm just casually including an MC that's nonbinary. So how do I prevent the story from taking a turn into political discussions? Is there a way to avoid talking about LGBT issues when my MC is LGBT? Is it smart to avoid it, and by avoiding it does it seem like I'm being lazy or trying to not offend people?

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    How significant is the witch aspect of things? Are witches common, uncommon, rare, or unheard of/disbelieved? Are they respected or feared? How witches are situated in the world, and Kem in particular, could have a great deal of impact on how well you can avoid politics regarding Kem's gender.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 3:46
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    I think you'll find this question helpful: How to write a homosexual character, whose homosexuality isn't the point of the story?
    – Standback
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 5:35
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    Have you actually done any sort of research that would indicate that's the kind of character your readers want and will accept? Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 18:46
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    @DmitriNesteruk it's the character I thought of and want to write.
    – user34214
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 22:36
  • In a world where mainstream opinion was not biased against nonbinary people, there (potentially) wouldn't be the horrific mess we currently have when it comes to pronouns... I fully understand (and applaud) the use of alternative pronouns in the real world, where we are still struggling with the bias that is built into our very language, but that doesn't stop it from sounding awkward - and in a better world, hopefully people would never have gotten themselves into such a linguistic mess to begin with Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 12:46

12 Answers 12


You can't.

I mean, sure, write your book matter of fact. The advice I give out a lot. It works.

But it's not just about what you say or don't say in your book, it's about the choices you make. When we've talked about diversity and racism in books we talked about how making a choice to avoid such things makes a statement. Choosing to include real-world diversity also makes a statement. And that's okay.

Embrace your choices, then write them like they're the most normal thing in the world. Because they are. But know that readers, reviewers, publishers, etc aren't dumb. They see your choices and will judge you on them. That's not a bad thing. People will always see you as the person you are based on your choices. Your actions. Your deeds.

But the book itself need not bring up any politics at all.

Within your book, make it a world where being nonbinary is a normal way of being. Where being Lavender is just something a lot of people are. It will be weird not to mention politics or bigotry if your setting is a world where these things aren't everyday. So create it as ordinary. Then talk about it matter of fact. Like you would say that one person in a couple was tall and the other one short. Or how one character spends mornings mucking out cow stalls and evenings dancing ballet on pointe.

Mostly, just write the book you want to write.

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    lavender : "5. (modifier) informal of or relating to homosexuality: lavender language." – TFD
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 22:59
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    @Mazura Lavender is a widely-used term to represent the totality of the community currently named by ever-expanding and changing acronyms. I am Lavender and advocate use of the term in all places where one might otherwise use some version of LGBTIQA or QUILTBAG or any other inadequate and temporary unpronounceable/unmemorable term. I did not come up with this use of Lavender but I am a strong advocate for it.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 23:10
  • See: seiu.org/lavender-caucus or lavendergreens.net
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 23:13
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    @Cyn I wasn't aware of the term usage; lavender is such a nice choice.
    – OnoSendai
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 18:28
  • I prefer the term "human" myself. And even that is a potentially limiting label. I'll sometimes switch up to "mortal", as appropriate.
    – nijineko
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 23:50

One way to keep it from taking over your story is to make it unexceptional. Quite literally. Kem is nonbinary. If Kem, other characters, and the narrator don't make a big deal out of that, don't either hide it or gawk at it, and just go about their lives, you'll convey the message that this is normal in Kem's world.

That part about not hiding it is important, though. If you introduce a nonbinary character and that fact is then invisible, you risk looking like you only threw in that detail to check off a box and score points. Kem is nonbinary and that affects how people interact with and talk about the character. That has to be present, but it doesn't need to be central. Treat Kem's gender the same way you treat other character's formative traits. A character who grew up in a broken home doesn't talk about the fights and divorce all the time; a character who's a genius doesn't only talk about being a math prodigy; a character who's of small stature doesn't always point that out. But the first one might have a strong flinch reaction to arguments, the second might always be working on some abstract problem in an ever-present notebook, and the third might be seen often stretching to reach things, preferring platform shoes, or leaving top shelves empty. Kem is nonbinary and that affects Kem; figure out how and show that.

I don't know enough about nonbinary gender to have specific advice about all the ways (beyond pronouns) that it affects the person's life. If you know, then look for ways to show it akin to what I've described with other traits. If you don't know, then try to find out before you write your story, so you can write a three-dimensional character rather than a caricature.


All writing has political elements to it, whether you like it or not.

Your question is a great demonstration of this. Some people consider LGBTQ people to inherently be (a) extremely rare, and (b) uniquely strange, fundamentally unlike cisgender, heterosexual people. Other people consider LGBTQ people to be a common, notable, substantial portion of the human population, with a wide spectrum of experiences and presentations, with nothing "unusual" about them. When writing, you cannot avoid portraying reality as one or other -- because LGBTQ people in your world, your setting, your writing, will either be present and that won't be considered a big deal, or they'll be absent and considered unusual.

Trying to write a novel -- particularly a fantasy novel of wide scope and tromping around some fun worldbuilding -- without portraying what's up with sex and gender, is kind of like trying to write a novel without portraying whether or not gravity exists. You can go with the default, but that doesn't mean you haven't made a decision.

All of which is to say: You can't write a book that doesn't express an opinion. You can't write a book that won't conflict with some peoples' worldview, opinions, expectations. Whatever you do, your book may draw criticism -- and, yes, choosing to go with a nonbinary protagonist can definitely draw more attention to your book, on this specific axis.


  • Accept that your book may draw criticism. That's not a failure on your part; pleasing everybody was never an option.
  • Give serious thought to how gender and sexuality are seen in your book's world and culture. Which isn't to say your book needs to be about LGBTQ issues -- but, that you should think through this enough, just like any other aspect of worldbuilding, to be able to portray a world that feels coherent and consistent.
  • Casual, matter-of-fact queer characters can be awesome, and there's definitely readers looking specifically for that. For being able to be LGBTQ and for it not to be a big deal.
    • Writing this way can be something of a challenge, because the farther you go from the "default" straight white male, the more there's an unconscious expectation that straying from the "default" is a Chekhov's Gun.
    • The best way I know to deal with this is to figure out how being LGBTQ influences your particular character's life, as a character, as an individual. Not in terms of social oppression; just in terms of personal experience and everyday details. Make it part of character-building, rather than central conflict or major themes. See more on this in my answer here.
  • Write without fear, but then get good beta readers. Since you know this can be a sensitive (and sometimes volatile) topic, once you've finished your early drafts, be sure to get some beta readers and/or sensitivity readers who are themselves nonbinary. They're the ones who can tell you if you've done anything that really bothers them. If you've hit the "I'm nonbinary and that's no big deal" mark you're aiming for, or not.

Hope this helps. All the best!

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    "...is kind of like trying to write a novel without portraying whether or not gravity exists. You can go with the default, but that doesn't mean you haven't made a decision." Yes, this.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 16:09
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    One of my favorite song lyrics is from Freewill by Rush: "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 1:13
  • @ashleylee Yeah, that was really bad handling (which continues in the treatment of the characters in the new movies...). I don't feel like JKR followed any of my advice on this, for some reason, somebody should tell her she should totally listen to my ideas :P
    – Standback
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 15:20

Is it important to know that Dumbledore is gay? Well no... it's informative, but the story stands without that information and we have evidence it wasn't just a call in the moment, but was something the Author used in crafting the character's interactions.

I would advise similar approaches. The one difference is that you need to make sure your readers understand the pronoun thing... I would have the matter come up in that someone meeting Kem for the first time refers to Kem with the wrong pronoun (He/She (based on the actual biological sex)) given circumstances, have Kem polity correct the matter (do not rant about misgendering here at all. Make Kem the kind of person who understands most people upon first meeting will likely have Pronoun Troubles), and move on. Also, be careful who is talking about Kem and their pronoun usage. Random mooks will probably refer to Kem as (he/she) because again, they never met them in person.

Even among Kem's friends, be allowing for some slips in dialog, because English Language genders things that actually have gender and many people feel that gender neutral for a pronoun for a human is insulting and the pronouns you want to use are generally reserved for more than one person (I think Kem sounds interesting and am in full support and even then it would not surprise me if I referred to Kem with he/him somewhere in this answer... he/him and related do tend to be default pronouns when speaking of a generic singular person... i.e. A Generic President is usually a he, even though the office may be held by a woman. Half the reason I over use Kem is to avoid the slip of the tongue.).

But if you're not going to say much on transgender issues, leave it at that. Write Kem as who they are, warts and all, and let the public judge accordingly.


Aspirational Heroes are Wish-fulfillment Fantasies

Young readers (and writers) are attracted to aspirational characters. They kick butt in tights, and take no sass from tyrants. They conquer corrupt governments with a crossbow. They are the slave who becomes Pharaoh, the outsider who becomes Savior, the underdog who wins.

Arguably the biggest appeal of these characters, beyond identifying aesthetics, is that they are invulnerable. This is sadly not how real life works, but that's not the point. These characters endure because we all relate to being underdogs, and we all want to win. The more vulnerable at the start (baby in a wicker basket floating down the Nile); the more powerful by the end (P̶h̶a̶r̶a̶o̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶E̶g̶y̶p̶t̶ BFFs with God and magic superpowers that defy nature).

Mary Sues are also Wish-Fulfillment Fantasies

Heroes are such wish-fulfillment fantasies they are almost a Mary Sue, "the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old" – except one important difference – Mary Sue is never an underdog. A Trekkie's Tale is 5 paragraphs of fanfic satire where the original Lt. Mary Sue basks in unearned glory and adoration.

This is the difference between the Hero's Journey and the Mary Sue. The Hero-protagonist starts with nothing and works his way up – if he was born wealthy and privileged he must lose it all first. He faces challenges and suffers. He proves himself through bravery and cunning. He earns his status through a series of trials, and by the end he is a scarred but wiser warrior. Alternately he becomes the beautiful princess but only after scrubbing floors and being abused by wicked stepsisters.

In contrast, Mary Sue commands the ship on her first day, she wins a Nobel Peace Prize, and is half-Vulcan because of course she is. There are no consequences to her being half-Vulcan, no one called her names. She never experience bigotry at Star Fleet or was denied employment and housing for being physically different because she lives in an idealized fantasy that is designed to flatter her.

Mary Sue is Cosplay

A protagonist who appropriates the aesthetics of an underdog, but does not experience any reduction in status or consequences, is like fans who cosplay at a convention center. They are not superheroes, they are just dressing like them. It's a costume, a costume without consequences. They take off the costume and go home.

As writers, we have an obligation to view our protagonists' tale as a heroic journey complete with hardships and failures and the odds stacked against them, and not as flattering and universally adored version of ourselves – if only we had the guts to dress in a superhero costume everyday.

You are the author. You get to say what the rules are, and you can write whatever you like. If you want to change the entire universe to "normalize" your character, that's fine it's your choice. But why dress in a superhero costume in a world where superheroes aren't special? There's actually a trope for this "Bizarro Universe" where everyone acts like Superman. Bizarro showing up in our universe is an interesting contrast (to Superman), but Bizarro living in Bizarro World isn't interesting for long. He isn't special, he's exactly like everyone else.

Assigning cherrypicked physical traits of real-life disenfranchised people, and then putting them in a world that functions exactly like White Cisgendered Patriarchy doesn't win any points for diversity. Ursula K LeGuin loved to puff herself up because the characters in Earthsea look like Native Americans, but she set the stories in pseudo-mythical Europe with wizards and dragons so nope, sorry, no diversity points for Ursula just for casually mentioning they are brown. See also: J.K. Rowling's Nagini controversy for naive diversity backfiring on the author.

Just saying the character looks a certain way in an offhand descriptive infodump, without allowing it to have any meaning at all, is a political act: erasure.

Aspiration or Mary Sue?

The younger the reader, the more we need aspirational characters to spur our imaginations – "If you can see it, you can be it." But naive representation and appropriation without consequences are shallow and problematic. You can't "aspire" to live in an alternate universe, that's not a message that elevates anybody because it will never be real.

As much as we want to boost our talent as writers, we cannot write myths. We must write stories. We don't have the benefit of eons to elevate our wish-fulfillment fantasies to the level of epic poetry. Our stories exist in the real world, and when they deny that the real world exists they are not called "aspirational" they are called "escapist".

Escapism isn't inherently a bad thing, but the older we get the less "honest" this sort of false-representation feels. People who are actually disenfranchised in the real world are unlikely to identify (they are more likely to be offended by being erased), but readers who are exploring gender-fluidity in their youth (which is essentially everybody) may get a kick out of seeing an alternative-looking cast of characters, even if that diversity is only skin deep.

I ask you (rhetorically) what do you want to say with this character? Alternately, what do you want to say about a universe you need to change to put your MC in a safe-space where their existence is unchallenged? Knowing something of your other questions, why would the MC rebel against a world that flatters them? What are they fighting for?

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    So you oppose writing of the world not as it is, but as it should be, to show it what it can be? Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:17
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    @Galastel I am opposed to faux diversity that erases the actual life experiences of real people. Bedtime stories are for children. We aren't talking about hobbits where we just make stuff up. The OP is referencing politicized terms for actual disenfranchised people which the OP admits not having any experience, but also wants to avoid "controversy" via erasure. I'm not repeating my entire answer in the comments. I'm encouraging the OP to "try harder" and THINK about what they are wanting to say, rather than "avoiding controversy". Go read it again..
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:23
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    Well, allow me to respectfully disagree with you, about the core of your argument. When I write about an LGBT character, or a non-"white" character, in a world where that character would suffer no discrimination, it isn't about "dressing up", and it isn't about "scoring diversity points". It is very much a political statement: people should not suffer discrimination. It's about putting an image before the world, and saying "Behold! This is how the world should be! You can do better than you're doing now! Stop treating discrimination as inevitable - look, it is evitable!" Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:55
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    (I do agree with Cyn and Standback that "avoiding politics" doesn't happen.) Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:57
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    And you also say this: "People who are actually disenfranchised in the real world are unlikely to identify (they are more likely to be offended by being erased)." I haven't found any research, and obviously I don't know how everyone thinks, but I'm not sure if this statement is true. For instance, there's ton of books written by women in fantasy settings where gender is a non-issue even compared to modern societies, let alone the older ones they're often based on.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 8:27

Resist the temptation for moral preening

As others have mentioned, it's impossible to be entirely unpolitical when then the very inclusion of concepts can be taken by some as support, and by others as reproof. But most readers will forgive (and many will welcome!) departures from their own world view or milieu, if you are not overbearing.

In Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, there's an entire planet of people who are genderless most of the time, and can manifest as either male or female incidentally, when they go into heat. This is presented simply as a condition of the considered sub-species of human. There was neither an insistence that this would be fundamentally better or that this was a condition to be deplored or pitied. The weakest characters as well as the strongest; the most contemptible and wicked as well as the most virtuous - all, except a few abnormal individuals and the "pervert" ambassador from the outside universe ("pervert" being an expression of the native consternation at someone who was always manifesting gender, and always the same gender), shared that attribute, and it did not define their moral value. I would consider this to have been a successfully "non-political" exploration of the concept. (Though it was considered a deeply political book by many.)

A story which shows men (or women, or non-binary, or [fill in ethnic group]) as consistently morally superior, consistently triumphant, or innately better BECAUSE OF that attribute, and additionally seems aware of its own inequality, and congratulates itself for it - that will be naturally controversial. That will repel much of your potential audience. That will make it difficult for people not men (or not women, or not non-binary, or not [fill in ethnic group]) to relate to your character or your story, in ways that simply portraying or not portraying some particular class or category will not.

  • Or as has been stated, Propaganda that looks like propaganda is third-rate propaganda.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 3:21

On top of all the above answers, I would like to add that self-identity is not the same as sexual orientation. A person may lean towards some kind of biological orientation, but the self-identity varies tremendously between individualistic and collectivistic societies. In individualistic societies, self-identity depends on the self, what the self feels regardless of external factors. In collectivistic societies, self-identity depends on the relationship.

If you are writing about a character living in a collectivist society, then the character will be more likely to value the relationship. The character's mother may see that she has a mother-daughter relationship with the main character, and treats the main character as a daughter. The main character self-identifies as a daughter because of the relationship. The "daughter" may dress in the clothing of a man, and the society will see this person as a man because this person is wearing man's clothing. Now, because the self-identified daughter is dressed like a man and is treated by society like a man, the daughter's natal family will not be able to marry off the daughter to another man, because two men cannot make babies and carry on the bloodline. It is possible for the natal family to treat the person as a son and then look for a bride for this son. The main character, now being a son, is then married to the daughter of another family. The son and daughter can still reproduce, if one person has functional male reproductive organs and the other person has functional female reproductive organs. If the son and daughter both have female reproductive organs or male reproductive organs, then they will not be able to carry on the bloodline. Instead, they will remain childless, or adopt a child.

As you can see here, it is entirely possible to create a fictional world with people who do not identify as LGBT, but can relate to LGBT experiences. In that way, you can avoid all the LGBT terminologies, or as you say, the "politics" out of your writing.

  • I agree that saying "LGBT" and "nonbinary" are political and can be re-labelled to de-politicize it. I got confused where you were going with the "example" (not saying it's wrong, more like paragraph order). Also interesting concept about re-inventing the culture in a way that honors certain relationships. Seems like a missed opportunity, not to explore a character who might have to cross boundaries. It would be like having a bi-racial character who has no cultural influences to tap. It's more a fetish of aesthetics than character building.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 16:44

You need to face up to the fact the the story does not write the story : you do. Railroad Bill to the contrary, nothing happens in your story but what you write.

So. Why is your character being nonbinary worth talking about? Oh, I can see any number of delightful/transgressive romantic subplots arising, but there is no need for you to include them in your story unless you want to.

As a concrete example, I'm straight. In some circles I might be described as "boringly so". I spent a couple of years in Vietnam, and if I lied a lot I could write a best-seller about it (and I mean a lot). During my time, I never once recall the subject of who I like to stick it to coming up. I also lived in a fraternity for some years which included a couple of gay brothers. By and large, the issue was not discussed although the knowledge was not suppressed. It simply did not impact on the lives of the rest of us. This was also true of the sex lives of the others. Some liked to boast, but most kept it private.

You choose the plot, you choose the story. If the character's identity/orientation are not relevant, don't discuss it.

So how do I prevent the story from taking a turn into political discussions?

Don't go there. If you cannot imagine an alter-ego who is incapable of discussing the subject at length, well, your story is not likely to avoid the subject, is it?

Is there a way to avoid talking about LGBT issues when my MC is LGBT?

Do you talk about it to everybody you meet, at every opportunity? If you do, I suspect you're not very interesting company except to a select few other nonbinaries who are similarly obsessed. Otherwise, have your character follow your example. If a situation in your story makes it imperative to discuss the subject, edit out the situation and go in a different direction. Writing has the great virtue that nothing you write is irreversible until it's published. If you simply cannot imagine a story in which your character's sexual orientation and identity are not front and center, that is more of a judgement on the limits of your imagination.

Is it smart to avoid it, and by avoiding it does it seem like I'm being lazy or trying to not offend people?

Oh, that's easy. Yes, it will offend some and not others. And depending on how you handle it will determine whether or not it will "seem like etc." And, yes, that's probably not very useful. It's still true.

Look. Just as the saying goes, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, you can't fool all the people all the time", you lose no truth by substituting "please" for "fool". Sexual identity is one of those things which cuts very deep, and making an alternate (or at least uncommon) orientation/identity part of the story will indeed turn off a considerable chunk of your possible readership. There will also be portion who can be persuaded to buy into your story if you do it well. There will even be a number who will revel in unabashed celebration of nonbinaryness. It is entirely up to you which segment you want to appeal to. And a test of your ability as a writer to make whichever you choose entertaining and engaging.

If the social circles you travel in spend all their time talking about the issue, it will be hard for you to imagine characters who don't do that. While understandable, it is technically "failure of imagination". If you cannot break free of your everyday social patterns, start making new friends and start moving in other circles and keep your eyes and ears open. The science fiction writer Joe Haldeman once wrote something along the lines of "The common advice to new writers is 'Write what you know.' This explains why there are so many bad novels written about middle-aged professors who are contemplating adultery."


If it's not relevant to the story, why mention it at all?

If you had a heterosexual MC would you bang on about it? It's incidental, and part of the character, but non-essential to the plot so just touch on it as necessary ... IF necessary.

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    I'm talking about the character's gender. Talking about gender is literally essential.
    – user34214
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:07
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    Your talking about gender IDENTITY ... which is largely irrelevant to most stories. Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:42
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    Because this is English. Pronouns are gendered. It is literally impossible to refer to someone in a graceful manner without knowing her/his/their/zir gender.
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 16:35
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    Actually the novel could apply singular "they" for all characters, uniformly.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 18:35
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    @wetcircuit Yep. Monolingual English speakers often get hang up on the pronoun. If they were bilingual since birth, then they'd gain a bicultural insight. The Chinese language is high-context, pro-drop, and genderless. I think English speakers could gain a lot from that, maybe use "they" for all characters.
    – Double U
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 18:43

If your reason for making the character non-binary is so that non-binary readers will have someone to identify with, remember this:

If readers could only identify with a characters who shares their demographics, then J. K. Rowling's fans would consist entirely of adolescent British boys.


She actually handled issues of racism and whateverism well in her use of metaphor: Discrimination against Muggle-born people in the magical community became the metaphor for all other bases of discrimination real life. This allowed her to condemn the whole category of thought and deed without having to take on any specific real-world variant of it (or answer "what about my group" from people whose troubles she did not mention).

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    Adolescent British boys capable of magic...
    – drjpizzle
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 15:23
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    That's a very one dimensional view on representation. Characters, like people, are multi-faceted. There are many groups of people who rarely get to see certain facets of themselves in their heroes. That kind of representation is incredibly meaningful to those people.
    – sudowoodo
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 17:11
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    It sounds to me like the people in these groups are looking to fiction for self-vindication. Seeking solace in made-up stories may be comforting, but I seriously doubt whether it's healthy.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 3:16
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    If demographics are no barrier to reader identification, then legions of readers should have no trouble with a nonbinary protagonist :D
    – Standback
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 3:59
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    If it doesn't look like propaganda, they won't.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 4:02


There's a difference between writing your characters according to the people they are and engaging with The Issues.

The topic of your character's gender identity only comes up if it is a part of your character's arc, then depict it as it is and how it relates to the character's arc.

You don't need to do any more or any less.

Prevent political discussions by refusing to write them. Have people in your setting treat Kem like non-binary gender is the most natural thing in the world. Focus on how their motivations were shaped by Kem's words and actions and their own needs, rather than on anything else.

Don't change anything to coddle potential readers. Stay true to your vision.

People can interpret your writing choices as one position or another, but people will only be offended if you fail to toe the political line currently present in media circles. It is your choice to care if people are offended or not. If you're trying to get your book published and you want to make sure you don't offend anyone, then you might choose to care. If not, you may choose not to care and let your critics work themselves into a fit if that's what they're into.

If people get all mad that you didn't address The Issues, then they can start paying you to address them.


Use of pronouns in English. Check online for a generally accepted standard for non-binary pronouns and use those.

  • 1
    I'm not sure what you mean regarding your edit (or how it relates to the question). In my experience, "they/them" is the generally accepted standard for non-binary pronouns - I'm aware there are others, but they're not as widely used.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 12:30
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    Other posters brought up the pronoun issue, so my edit recommended that OP check an accepted source and use those. The OP might have different experience or be writing in a different social environment with different requirements for pronouns.
    – TheLeopard
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 2:00

It's easier than it sounds.

I myself am an LGBT person (gay guy to be exact), and I won't necessarily be able to tell you what the character feels (since I'm not nonbinary), but I can tell you how to not make a big deal of it.

Find a way to introduce it at some point. What I mean, is make out the character to be completely normal. If the story is first-person, then using pronouns to identify the character will be a lot easier.

Next, just introduce it in a simple way that isn't "Oh, I'm nonbinary and and everyone hates me!" Just do it something more along the lines of:

Kem turned to the startled woman.

She was staring at them in confusion, eyes wide in horror. "Wh-what are you...miss/mr?"

Kem looked at her, calm. "I'm not a miss or a mr."

The woman stared at Kem in shocked silence, as if she still didn't understand.

"And I'm a witch."

As you can see, it introduces your character as nonbinary while also introducing them as a witch. This way you can make it out as not a big deal, but also as just a simple part of them.