Labels, and stepping out of my comfort zone


When I was sixteen or seventeen I remember watching Virginia Woolf’s Orlando on television and being in awe. Seeing Tilda Swinton’s role change from male to female and thinking wow wow wow, I wish that was me. There was something about being able to switch genders that matched how I felt.

How I still feel.

At the time, I had no idea what that meant, only that I suspected it wasn’t how anyone else I knew felt. Maybe if I’d talked about it then I wouldn’t have felt so odd and alone, but I didn’t know how to explain.

And that wasn’t the only way I felt different–no one else I knew seemed to regard gender as secondary when it came to being attracted to someone, and I had no words for that either.

But this was in the 90’s, before the internet, and I moved around a lot as a kid, so I grew up without labels, and without words that might help describe how I felt. And I never really talked to anyone about how I identified. Until I started to write seriously.

I guess it’s telling that in the first story I ever wrote (that I never finished) I never identified my protagonist as male or female. In my head they were both and they were neither. I thought it was too weird for anyone to want to read and at the same time I loved it.

Then I read Written On the Body by Jeanette Winterson and thought it was beautiful—never once is the protagonist identified as male or female. They just are what they are.

There is a quiet freedom that comes from removing all labels, and I do that in my own writing sometimes. I love characters just being what they are, label less.

But there is also great freedom and power that comes from having the words to describe how you feel, from choosing a label for yourself. So that’s what I’m doing.

It feels weird to me to be referred to as female and as a female author, and I’ve become less and less comfortable with it. I’m genderfluid. I’m a genderfluid (or non-binary) author. I don’t mind she/they, it’s just female that feels all wrong. I know it’s not something I’ve ever spoken about before, so I don’t expect people to know—I’ve begun to quietly stick labels on myself on social media, but I’m not waving my arms and yelling about it.

But now I have the words, I’m going to try to use them^^

I’ll write a blog post about Shelter Me soon, as it’s kind of relevant.


About sukifleet

Suki Fleet currently lives in the heart of England. Her childhood was quite unconventional and she spent some time living on a boat and travelling at sea with her family. Since she was very small she has always dreamed of writing for a living, but though she has written original fiction online for years and encouraged many new writers to keep going and follow their author dreams, it is only recently she got the courage to make her own dream a reality and actually send something off to a publisher. By day she runs her own business selling fabric (her second love) and juggling family commitments, by night she weaves the stories that the characters in her head dictate. These stories often start with pain or longing but always end with love.
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3 Responses to Labels, and stepping out of my comfort zone

  1. Great post!
    I like your topic on blog too.

  2. Elsa Calderón says:

    Love the post and I can’t wait to know about Shelter Me 🙂

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