I'm experimenting with writing nonbinary or generally gender-ambiguous characters in my writing. The most recent example of this is in an urban fantasy story I'm currently working on in my spare time, where the first character is introduced using they/them pronouns. Their pronouns are revealed to be those other than they/them later on, but I'd like to know if the neutrality reads well and, if not, how it could be expressed better.
I want to introduce them neutrally even though they are not a nonbinary character because it lets the reader identify with the character initially and then learn more about them as the story goes on, including their pronouns and gender identity. I'm trying to be inclusive without writing a character in a stereotypical way, and I'm avoiding the pronoun 'it' for humanoid characters to avoid potentially degrading nonbinary characters. Below is my intro to the story which I mentioned above:
“I wake up every morning / With a big smile on my face / And it never feels out of place”
Groaning came from the bed as a hand groped for the source of the music. Grabbing a smartphone that sat on the bedside table, the hand unsuccessfully pushed at the screen, the movements getting more and more frustrated.
“And you’re still probably working / At a nine to five pace / I wonder how bad that-”
The music cut off, prompting a sigh of relief from under the blankets. “Why’d I choose that ‘s my alarm…” The voice sounded more animal than human, a low growl. A bundle of hair appeared from near the pillows at the top of the bed, followed by another hand that flung the blankets off, revealing more limbs that promptly got caught in the sheets, slamming the ball of hair into the floor. “Goddamnit!”
After some more flailing, the...person? Being? Eventually made their way to the room’s door, slamming it behind them. A crashing noise came from the bedside table, and they sighed, then walked down the hall. Pulling some of their hair aside to reveal a tired pair of hazel eyes, a pug nose, and a downturned mouth, they spat some strands out of their mouth and sighed again.
“Anyone in there? Helloooo?” With no reply from the door, they shrugged and stepped into the bathroom, closing the door behind them before starting to brush their hair.
“Goooood Morning!~” A perky young woman with platinum blonde hair, green eyes, and a smile almost as wide as her entire head slammed the door open, making them jump.
“Lily! What the hell!” They growled. Lily looked innocent.
“What? Can’t say good morning to my big bro?”
The man grumbled as he brushed the hair out of his face. “You know how I feel about the door slamming.”