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You Can't Sniff the Internet: Character deep-dive: Lillian

Original photo (without text or deminonbinary flag) by Charlie Firth on Unsplash

Let’s meet the main character from You Can’t Sniff the Internet: Lillian Burden!

Specifically, let’s meet Lillian’s gender. Because everything else about them is… kind of spoilery. Gender time!

Lillian(they/she) is deminonbinary. This is someone who is essentially partly nonbinary. Maybe they identify as nonbinary on some days (in a gender fluid way), or in certain situations, or what have you.

Demi- is a latin root that essentially means “half” or “partial,” and you’ll see demi appear in front of a lot of genders and sexualities. It basically means that the answer to “are you nonbinary” is “yeeeeah, essentially.”

This is one of those grey area identities where there’s no rules, just a collection of feelings. When those gender feelings are examined by the person having those feelings, they essentially determine that they’re “kinda nonbinary.” Sometimes this happens because someone is in a transition state, and still figuring out what gender(s) they are. Other times, someone knows exactly what they are, and what they are is “sorta-kinda-nonbinary (and usually something else alongside that)”.

Lillian is the first type. She’s still figuring things out, and the best term she has right now is deminonbinary. Or… well, the best term I have is deminonbinary, because Lillian still hasn’t figured their gender out to the point of labelling it.

See, Lillian has depression. The way their depression manifests is through a lot of apathy and anger. Something I’ve personally experienced in my Gender and Depression Journeys (™) is what I call gender apathy. Different from being agender (where you care about gender, you just aren’t a gender), when you’re apathetic to gender it can take a lot of forms. Sometimes you just don’t have the spoons to address your gender feelings, because your dysphoria pain doesn’t outweigh the social pain of trying to transition in any form.

Other times, in even less healthy cases, you specifically ignore your gender feelings as a method to harm or “punish” yourself. Thankfully for Lillian (and myself), our experiences align mostly with the first type. Transition is hard and scary, and sometimes even when you’re sure you’d be happier on the other side of transition, you can’t get yourself there. In Lillian’s case, her general apathy means she doesn’t even let herself examine what genders she could be… until, maybe, the events of You Can’t Sniff the Internet.

This is something I love about the book. It’s about people who are queer, but it’s not about queerness. Because of this, I feel like I’ve been able to examine the gooeyer subtleties of gender and sexuality. Stuff like coming to terms with who you are in the grander scheme of an other-worldly adventure, how gender interplays with social situations, how sexuality labels might not matter as much as who the person you love is. In that sense… well, maybe Sniff is TOTALLY about queerness. It’s also just wrapped up in a sci-fi story that you don’t need to be queer to enjoy.

Anyways. Stay tuned for more info about You Can’t Sniff the Internet’s release date this October!

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