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Loved Rlain POV so much, and once again branderson wrote a marginalized underrepresented character so well. Not gonna lie I wanted him to bond the sibling a. Because seeing a marginalized character with that much power... I want it and b. I didn’t really want another kohlin radiant AND bond smith but i was ultimately happy with navani and him being chosen by a truth watcher spren. Anyways, I’m curious if anyone else picked up on a quote that I simply cannot find in this ginormous volume where he essentially says that mateform doesn’t go right for him... My immediate thought was that we might have another lgbtq+ icon on our hands, since (as far as we know) mateform seems to be a heterosexual pairing for the purpose of producing children. Anyone else have thoughts on this (or the quote lol).
Xoror posted a topic in Cosmere Discussion (No RoW)So let me just preface this with some stuff: 0) This will also be obviously shaped by my experience of queerness as a white Ace Bi Transwoman from Switzerland, so maybe keep that in mind as you read this. 1) This is also not supposed to be a dunk on Brandon for his inclusion (or lack thereof) of queer characters. While I wish there was more in his work (and I’ll talk about how you could do that in the cosmere), it’s not like there is none, which is already more than many other Fantasy writers have. He is also not queer himself (as far as we know) and I can respect it that he doesn’t want to include harmful representation in his books (as he has stated before). 2) I’m mostly writing this because I got a friend (who has not (yet, as I hope) read any of the Cosmere books) to take the Knights Radiant Quiz (I guess mostly by saying it’s essentially the Sorting Hat Quiz). Following that I realized I truly had a lot of thoughts about the Cosmere at large, but since none of my friends is into the Cosmere, I had no one to talk to (it’s much easier for me to talk to friends than strangers online, so I didn’t really want to go on Discord and start a conversation, so I’ll just plop it down here and let people decide whether they want to be part of that conversation or not). 3) This is essentially me rambling, there’s probably going to be holes or stuff that I missed or aspects of queerness that I did not think about. Calling it “Queerness in the Cosmere” might have been a bit ambitious, but I honestly didn’t know what else to call it. I’m also not really active on here, so maybe other people have already said all of this, but I had a desire to write this. 4) I think this will mostly concentrate on Roshar (specifically Vorin culture), Scadrial and Nalthis so I’ll structure it accordingly. Nalthis and Scadrial will also probably much shorter than Roshar, both because we know a lot about Vorin culture compared to the others and because the Magic on Roshar gives a bit more to talk about. To start with, let it be said that there is a WoB that clearly states trans people can use Investiture to change their body (he specifically says this with regards to Bloodmakers, Stormlight and the surge of Progression). So let’s start with Nalthis. There’s not that many Characters to begin with and none of them appear to be queer. Of course, many characters have their own situations going on where we don’t see anything regarding their sexualities or identities (Vasher and his history with Shashara, Denth being consumed by vengeance, Vivenna being brought up with the singular purpose of marrying the God King with the implicit understanding that she would be killed eventually, etc.), so I can’t talk about what is, because there isn’t any. As for what could be: the interesting thing for me on Nalthis are the Returned. We know their bodies change upon being returned and we also know that they have the ability to shape-shift to a certain degree. This is confirmed by Vasher (in deeds and words) and also evident in the Court of Gods, where Returned tend to fit their given domain (Blushweaver being extremely attractive, Lightsong being muscular/toned) physically. You could easily fit trans people into further Nalthis works via Returned and their place in Hallandren society. For one, you could have person return and in the process have their body change to one matching their identity. Now, we don’t know whether the Returned consume investiture when they shape-shift. Given that investiture is highly quantized on Nalthis, this seems unlikely. However, as the process of Returning is a result of direct shardic intervention, this investiture could easily come from Endowment directly. This would be a bit more complicated in terms of non-binary, agender or genderfluid people (as well as other marginalized identities which I don’t know about), but this goes beyond my experience and I don’t want to speak for them. Once you have a trans Returned, this would obviously have an influence on Societies where Returning is viewed as a divine act (e.g. Hallandren and Idris (I’m actually not sure whether Idrians see it that way, but I do believe so)), legitimizing their existence beyond doubt (as clearly, God says trans rights). Even if this is not the case, the process of bestowing a divine breath on someone to heal has also implications regarding trans people. Healing in the Cosmere generally works, as I understand it, by restoring the body to the spiritual ideal, with possible influence on self-perception (see Kaladin inhaling Stormlight doesn’t fix his slave scars as of now). From Renarin we know that you can be born with a body that does not conform to this ideal (his bad eyesight was corrected upon inhaling Stormlight). We don’t know whether bestowing a divine breath requires the Returned in question to know what they are healing, although considering Brandon has described this process as “supercharged healing” my guess is not. So it is easily possible that a Returned will bestow their breath and give a trans person a body they are comfortable with, at which point, again, God says trans rights. From there, you could make Hallandren either a very trans acceptive place or (and I personally don’t want that, but it’s a legit possibility) a place where you have to “medically transition” before you are treated as your real self (as in get a Returned to bestow their breath) and where the Returned essentially judge your trans-ness (as in, if a Return doesn’t bestow their breath on you, you’re not “really trans”, as otherwise they (and by extension God) would have given you their breath). Again, that would suck as much as that attitude sucks in real life, but it would at least be something that isn’t cooki-cutter Fantasy stuff “gay people bad and gender binary rulez”. Awakening itself might also provide people with the mechanism to shape-shift. There are “mental commands” that Vasher uses to make a girl forget Trauma, so there is a possibility there to apply this also to “physical commands” that change the users body in a certain way. Let’s look at Scadrial, specifically Era 2 onwards. For starters, we have lesbian rep with Ranette (although I guess she could be Bi), we have disaster Bi rep with Wayne and kandra, who are an interesting subject with regards to gender identity (even further, we have TenSoon, a kandra who spends most of his time as a dog). They are probably the queerest books in the Cosmere and as such, there is not much that I want to talk about. The kandra are super interesting, because they have a distinct gender identity. This could obviously be a remnant of either the spikes that are used to give them thought or because they were human at some point and then transformed by Rashek (this point depends a bit on whether mistwraiths can procreate or whether all mistwraiths were once terris people). Still, they are a super easy way to introduce queer characters. You can easily have a kandra that uses they/them pronouns or who presents differently at different times (apart from the fact that they do this anyways in Era 1 to spy), so they are always the same person, but switch between male/female presentation including pronouns. I hope we get to see something like this in the future. Bands of Mourning and the medallions the southern scadrians use have a huge implication for trans people. In essence, you could build an industry (healthcare should be free though!) on providing unkeyed gold metalminds. If they are charged enough, they would allow trans people to change their bodies. This could also be added in the background, like an ad in the newspaper pages Era 2 books have every now and then or that a character reads in the newspaper. I’m not sure how that would impact a society. Like, in real life there are many medical tools that allow transition, but our society is still incredibly transphobic. So it is not a given that, even though the effectos of healing would be impossible to ignore evidence that trans people are real and valid, there would not be effort to deny trans people access to unkeyed goldminds. You could then still, through Wayne for example, show that there is a black market going on where trans people try to get access to them. So, Roshar. More specifically though the Vorin nations and the singers. Again, Stormlight healing and healing via the surge of progression allow for very easy ways to introduce trans characters, either only as background characters (like in a scene where Renarin heals people) or in a more direct way as a Radiant that changes upon inhaling Stormlight the first time. Apart from that, Vorin culture allows for very interesting explorations on queerness. Vorinism heavily enforces gender roles through the book “Arts and Majesty”. It’s not really clear how this system reacts to the emergence of new professions. It might be the same as with stable hands, where it’s not part of the book so everyone can be one. It might also be that it gets amended, similar to how the bible was changed at various councils. That may sound like it’s beside the point, but whether or not it can be changed does have implications on queer people. Like, could it be changed to include the existence of non-binary people? Or gender fluid ones? That is something I think could be touched upon (assuming Vorinism survives much longer). As the system is right now, there is an obvious (and I think boring) way how Vorin culture treats marginalized gender identities: It’s a heavily gender segregated, binary society and thus, moving between the two camps or outside of them will be suppressed as heretical. However, it could also naturally support trans people, but only as long as they conform to society. You could show this by having a man that can read (maybe in an emergency situation or through subtle reactions in a span-reed conversation or like this) but doesn’t do it openly because it’s unmanly (the implication being that he was taught as a child an came out after). Or maybe there are professions for people that don’t identify as either male or female, but transitioning from one to another is not possible. I think the heavily segregated Vorin society is a really cool playground on queerness, which I hope Brandon will explore a little bit. If there is any fanfic of this, I’d be glad if you could recommend them to me! I also want to shortly talk about homosexuality in at least Alethkar (but I assume this is again a Vorin thing). There seems to be no real prejudice against it. Kaladin does have bit of a different reaction, where he finds it weird how uncomfortable Bridge 4 is with Renarin possibly learning to read but they have no problem with Drehy courting a man (Dru) and Bridge 4 reacts very strongly in favor of the relationship. (I just checked as well, according to Brandon Vorin culture doesn’t have a problem at all with homosexuality). To me, the acceptance of homosexuality seems at odds with Vorin culture, which heavily reinforces the relationship of man-woman not only in a personal sense, but also a professional one. The fact that only women can write and read means that they are pretty much essential in almost any profession (as seen by the fact that Alethi at least reeealy like their ledgers). In my head canon, at least one of the Heralds was gay and this persisted as a part of Vorin society even past “Arts and majesty” (which might have been written after the fall of the Radiants, as they were open to all people). With Sigzil, we’ve seen that at least the Azish are not so supportive of gay people. In his own words, Drehy would have to apply for “social reassignment”, which is exactly what it suggests according to Brandon: You can’t have a gay relationship, instead one of the involved parties has to “socially transition” and would henceforth be treated as their opposite gender (in a WoB, Brandon references ancient India as a inspiration, although let it be said that Iran for example still does this today). This might suggest that, while being wildly homophobic, Azish culture might actually be trans-supportive (in a certain sense). This is also something I hope we get to see more of. There are also the Iriali and their religion of the One. According to Brandon, the more conservative/religious Iriali are supportive of gay people (and I think that would extend to any other marginalized gender identity) on account of them all being part of the One. I very much like the inversion happening here: the “modern” Iriali have outlawed it, but the “conservative/religious” ones accept it with no problem. The singers have 4 distinct gender identities. I know that this is sometimes contested, whether they are really genders or not, but we have not seen much of singer society as of now. Brandon promised that we would get more of that, so I guess we will see. I don’t think Brandon would call them gender identities if they weren’t such, but again, he is a cis man, so his view on “gender identity” might be flawed. I think you could do some interesting things with the singers. They are explicitly shape-shifters, taking on forms as demand dictates. Again, you could easily have a singer that is femalen in one form and malen in a different one or even change from malen to female in the same form (this all depends on how forms exactly work; we’ve only seen a limited amount, and gender seems to be tied to some). This could also indicate how singers would treat, say, non-binary people. This ties in with the Sibling, who we know does not identify as male or female and also not as malen or femalen, so they are either older than the singers and thus not shaped as much by their perception, or it was enough of a part in singer society for them to pass it on the the spren, as it were. According to Syl, some spren do have 4 gender identities, which I think Brandon has confirmed is because of the singers. I also think it would be neat if singers would be referred to as they/them if they are children or even teenagers, leaving it up to them to decide. At least, I guess you could say the first time they go into the storm to adopt a form would determine their pronouns. Again, we don’t have much information on singer children, so we don’t know what form they have when they are born. Also, I love the idea of an entirely Asexual race (well, mostly). I think Brandon has alluded that not all forms are Ace, mate form included. Personally, I think this does Ace people a little bit of a disservice. Lots of Ace people have sex, some enjoy it themselves, some enjoy it because their partner enjoys, it really is (as always) a spectrum. At its essence, Asexual only means that you do not experience sexual attraction and is not tied to sex drive or the desire to have sex. The singers could easily all be Ace and still reproduce enough. I… guess this is all? If you’re still here: thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed my rambling thoughts! Maybe this starts a discussion on queerness, maybe not. But I wanted to post it regardless because I've been thinking about it, like, a lot. (I hope there are not too many spelling or grammar errors.)
Hello 17th Shard! As you may know, June is Pride month. Pride month is celebrating the Stonewall riots that happened in 1969 in Manhattan. Feel free to share stories of inspiration and overcoming hardships and just overall experiences. Straight, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Gay, Lesbian, Queer, everyone is welcome!