I'm hoping the mods will allow this through. I personally did not write this, but agree with it entirely.
Please read this, as it concerns most, if not all, who read and write fics.
Thank you for your time!
I have something I would like to ask of each and every one of you. I know that what I am asking will probably give you pause, and will be difficult, as changes often are. I'm also aware that fandom as a whole does not really like change.
But I also know that fandom, as a whole, understands the power that words can have. We wield that power every day when we speak, or write - especially in our stories. We understand that some words can hurt, and some can heal.
Which is why I come to you today. There are some words being used in certain fandoms which are hurtful. They don't mean to be, and I understand that. I understand that fandom is a place where terminology is created out of a need for such things, but none of it is ever, ever intended to hurt people. Because that's not what fandom is about, especially slash fandom. That is a place where people go to write about something which is not yet totally socially acceptable, in the hope that one day it will be legal, and in fact accepted as normal, around the world to be gay. In this way, fandom is a very positive place, which is why I hope that you will listen to what I have to say, and be open to the changes in terminology being proposed here.
The terminology to which I am referring is as follows:
Now, I know that most of you do not see anything wrong with that terminology. But I am here to ask you today to please stop using them. They hurt me, they hurt the people that I love, and I will explain why.
Firstly, the word 'genderswap'. This term has been in usage for a long time, and is a well known trope in fanfic. However, this term is not only incorrect, but hurtful because of this. In 'genderswap' stories, a person suddenly finds themself in a body which is of the opposite sex. However, they are usually still themselves - if a man wakes up in a woman's body, he still considers himself to be male. It is only his sex which has swapped; his gender is still the same. The use of 'genderswap' seems to have come from the all-too common misconception that gender and sex are one and the same, but this misconception is not only hurtful to those whose genders do not match their birth sex, but it continues this idea that gender dysphoria does not exist by saying that one must always have the same gender as one's sex.
I understand that this is not fandom's intention. However, this is what has happened. At this point I would like to point out that I am (mostly) cisgendered, and would not presume to believe that I know what any trans person feels. However, some of the people I love are transgendered, and I am well aware that it hurts them.
What hurts more, however, is the fact that they have pointed this out to some people, and these people have dismissed it out of hand. I would never blame people for using this term when they have not realised that it is either wrong or hurtful. That is not my intention. But when someone points out to you that they find a word offensive, in my experience my first instinct is to stop using the word. I do not want to hurt people, and so if I find myself doing so I stop doing what was hurtful. However, the kneejerk reaction of many of these people seems to have been as follows:
"But I didn't mean to offend you, and everybody knows what I mean by it, so it's okay to use it! And besides, the only real alternative is 'sexswap' and I don't like saying that. 'Genderswap' sounds better!"
I would like each and every person who reads this to ask themselves: is it okay to respond to another human's pain in this way? To say, oh, but we didn't mean to, so it's okay to keep doing it? Those of us who are not transgendered have the privilage of not being concerned with the ins-and-outs of gender dysphoria, but the least we can do is to try to not hurt the feelings of people who are already having to deal with being in a body which does not match their gender.
The other term listed above is 'GSF'. 'GSF' is a term which I have only seen in bandom, and I have only ever heard it to mean 'Group Sex Fic', although I am assured that it originally meant 'Group Slut Fic'. While the former meaning is marginally less offensive than the latter, it is still an offensive piece of terminology. This term is used for when more than two people, usually a whole band, are having sex with each other. However, these stories are generally more than just random threesomes/foursomes/fivesomes which occur once and are then never repeated. These are mostly stories where these people are in a relationship with each other.
This is a piece of terminology which is personally painful to me. I am polyamorous - I have two amazing, wonderful boyfriends who I love very deeply. The use of 'GSF' to casually describe what is sometimes in these stories a very deep and meaningful poly relationship cheapens this, as if to say that the only reason people would be in a poly relationship is for the group sex. Again, this is an extremely harmful piece of terminology which has been met with the reply,
"But I don't mean it to be harmful, and everyone knows what it means, so it's okay to use it!"
In all the other fandoms I have ever been in, the terminology for more than two people being in a relationship is OT3/OT4/OT5/etc. I honestly cannot understand why this could not be used instead. It is the same length, and the meaning is already known throughout fandom.
And so, in summation, please. Fandom as a whole, I would appreciate it if you would consider what I have written here. Take it to heart, and help to engender change. People will not know that the terminology that they are using is hurtful until they are told - much like many people in older generations still use words which are hurtful to people who are gay, or POC, often through ignorance that these words are offensive rather than because of any malice. Please link to this, repost anywhere you feel it necessary, and help spread the word.
Fandom is a place where people from all backgrounds go to find a safe place. Please help it to stay that way.
With love and hope,