Post by urbanperegrine on Dec 21, 2015 23:11:37 GMT
Please note: These notes were written by a Yank who did not have access to any episodes of Season 9 at the time of writing.
General Premise: Intersex character confuses an investigation.
Specifics depend on character traits (age, socio-economic status, employment if any) and how this character is used, but there are several avenues that can be explored:
- Body anomalies: These are obvious ways to skew forensic assessments, such as footprints that appear to be those of a small man are actually of a person who presents as female. Quite useful for false starts, red herrings, unchecked assumptions, surprise revelations, outright deception...
- Concealment: The character acts to hide traits that don't fit the public gender presentation. The concealment of this matter could easily be misconstrued as concealment of some other important matter, or this secret could be bound up with another (possibly criminal) one. Anxieties about maintaining the secret could prompt this person to avoid social and/or physical contact. Humor might be deployed as a kind of snark armor. This person would likely go to great lengths to avoid any medical care, especially if offered by someone with ties to a large institution and/or psychiatry. Plot development may involve gaining this person's trust and extending reassurances that they won't be fixed or cured in any way they don't want.
- Character name: The surname could be doing other work (acting as a shout out or playing on some other theme), or it could be tied into this issue by means of a "-man" suffix. Since given or "Christian" names are bestowed at birth, this person may be saddled with a very gendered name (obviously male or obviously female) that proves to be an awkward fit, particularly if this person was named for a family member or more distant ancestor. Nicknames, truncated or diminutive or otherwise altered, may be a stopping point along the way to a more permanent selection. If this person chooses a new name, it may be an ambiguously gendered one, or it may show a distinct rejection of the family choice (especially if the family was abusive). A new name may even be an attempt at splitting the difference or some kind of consensus (say, a first name gendered one way and a middle name gendered the other). Ideally, the solution may combine elements of these, such as a "girl" named "Cordelia" for an aunt or grandmother who chooses the legal name "Cord Delia <Surname>".
- Family conflict in the backstory: This person's birth with ambiguous genitalia could be the start of internal family conflict as the parents and other relatives debate courses of action. This conflict might extend for months or years after the person's birth, and may even linger into the present if they have living relations. Physical abuse is a distinct possibility, and likely one more thing to be concealed, adding to the impression of dishonesty on their part. Even good intentions on the part of some or all other family members could prove to be paving the way to hell on earth for this person, especially if medical or surgical procedures are threatened or performed. This person may choose to sever ties with hostile kin and retain those they have with familial allies, depending on events.
- Unorthodox career "choices": The character may have a past or current occupation as a carnival freak and/or a sex worker, especially if they come from a family that lacked the economic means to conceal the truth. In a more positive light, this person may have taken advantage of urban anonymity and/or the frontier (what's left of it) to escape strict rules for gender performance. More modern notions of progress may be useful in this person's search for a place in society.
- Highlight the failure to perform gender "correctly":
- From the regulars' point of view, the failure(s) could prompt more questions and add to any confusion. Intermittent "failure" and "success" in performing one gender role could also factor into others' confusion, point up the problems with a strict gender binary, and extend this plot thread. The regulars may note that this person dresses and/or behaves differently in different situations (family, friends and employer may see them present differently).
- In a middle or upper class setting, this person may have to deal with family pressure and criticism for failing to look and act their assigned gender. If the character was assigned female at birth or re-assigned at puberty, the pressures will likely involve marriage in some way (arranged by the family, attempted or failed in some way, rebuff from the prospective spouse).
- Religion can also be in the picture, especially if someone invokes complementarity and quotes the biblical "God made them male and female" bit (traditional gender roles were widely held to be divinely ordained). Perhaps this person gives a spirited riposte that "God made me male and female," and gets a hostile assertion that they are a symptom of the fallen world or outright demonic.
- Legal ramifications: This could involve anything from a name change (which could be framed as a positive life event) to deprivation of freedom due to false assessment of insanity or crime (sumptuary laws, fraud). Accusations of false pretenses on the part of the intersex character could involve criminal charges and require a legal defense. The laws being what they were, the question of this person's gender will likely end up as some kind of legal fiction (since third-gender options didn't exist then), with the character having to permanently choose to present as either female or male (assuming they are given a choice in the matter).
- New friends may not help: Initially, if this person is befriended by one or more newly-met characters (regulars or recurring minor characters), those characters will likely have some confusion as to how to proceed. Some friends may have reasons of their own for trying to persuade this person to choose a particular gender, and they may (at least for a time) give more weight and consideration to those reasons than to the wishes of the person in question. In fact, anyone might have a romantic interest in this person that depends upon them choosing to live as a particular gender, and therefore wish to put a thumb on the scales as the decision is being weighed.
- Nods to the future: This person may have other traits (hair of two different colors, ambidexterity, etc.) that can prompt regulars' speculation about what is now known as a tetragametic chimera. Someone may speculate about what is now known as transgender identity. Someone may express hope for a future in which laws and social rules acknowledge the existence of intersex people with dignity.
- Going forward: It may be a simple case of this person boarding a train and moving to a new city for a fresh start, and they exit the scene (at least for a time). If this person stays in Toronto, new friends can help with life adjustments, perhaps even with some kind of celebration. In particular, if this person does begin to "transition" to a different gender identity, they may seek out some practical advice (sartorial for a start). Health issues may contribute to this (especially if the person does choose some kind of surgery); perhaps something such as a rise in testosterone will require them to learn to shave. Obviously, specifics depend on which gender role they settle into, though a female-to-male change offers the understandable and symbolic visuals of facial hair.
- Episode naming: Reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Measure of a Man" (possibly even quote that title directly) very useful if an assigned female chooses to live as a male. "By Any Other Name" or "Also Known As" might be good if this person's identity is the main issue of the episode.