Altersex - body descriptor and alternative to fetish terms? by SpottyJaguar

Content Warning for talk of body parts and use of clinical terms for body parts, some gender slur usage

Hello!

Do you find yourself stuck using slurs or problematic terms like c*ntboy and d*ckgirl, h*rm, or improperly using intersex to describe characters in your art? Do you find yourself trans and/or intersex and not having any better language for your awesome but pretty specific body, or those of your characters?

Same here, and I hate it! To fix this problem, I recently coined what I think is a new term.

EDIT 7/24/2015* - After several people pointed out issues with "demi" as a prefix, I have instead moved to "alter." I feel this is more direct, which will benefit the term, as well as freeing up "demi" to refer to sexual orientations and occasionally gender labels only. User FaroreNightclaw has also propositioned "phantasex" for bodies that cannot occur in the real world, [as well as several other terms] for more specific meanings and usages, but my goal with this term was to be not only direct, but sufficiently vague, so this journal will highlight "altersex" as the term. Please use what you think works best for your situation!


Altersex

"Altersex" is a catch-all term consisting of alter, meant here as "different" or "another possibility," and sex, referring to physiological primary and secondary sex characteristics. Alterssx is meant to be used largely, but not exclusively, for fictional characters, describing body plans that are a mix of things, rather than the usually-found configurations.

Here, a body plan is just what type of parts you have or don't have. A penis, testicles, a vulva, a clitoris, developed breasts, etc.

Wait, but is it...?

Before I say any more of what it is, I want to say what it is not.

  • This term is not intersex, and is entirely separate from the phenomena of being intersex.
  • This term is not a label for any kind of sexual orientation.
  • This term includes the word "sex," but does not have anything to do with gender, nor should the "sex" portion be interchanged with gender labels such as to produce something like altergirl or altermale or similar.

Altersex is a category-type term for all "non-standard" body plans, including those that are fantastical or imagined, and/or not physiologically possible in life. A large part of why I've created this term is to provide language for fictional characters that we, as artists and storytellers, create, that is direct and effective for describing them. It is not my intention for this word to be used explicitly for our real-world bodies, but due to the multitude of possible experiences and situations, especially concerning trans people with characters that are direct avatars for them, as well as otherkin or fluid-type identities, I don't readily rule it out, either.

Altersex does not refer to any specific body plan (or plans) the way terms like intersex or hermaphrodite do. Instead, it marks a person immediately as having a non-standard body plan, and then invites that person to specify what that means for themselves - similar to how one can say they're transgender and then later specify being gender-queer or gender-fluid - all without using any slurs.

How do I use it?

Grammatically, it is an adjective, not a noun. A character simply is altersex, they are not an altersex (noun), and are not altersexed (strange past-tense verb). Being altersex covers setups like having breasts as well as a penis with testicles, or a penis in place of a clitoris on a vulva, having a vulva without having breasts, or (regardless of breasts) having a penis with testicles as well as a vulva. The latter means it can also act as an alternative for h*rm.

For example,

  • "Warren is altersex, xe has breasts, a vulva, and a penis instead of a clitoris."
  • "Kris is altersex, ey has a vulva, a penis with testicles, and does not have breasts."
  • "Quark is altersex. They have no breasts, a vulva, and multiple tentacle cocks."

Okay, but why?

Terms like c*ntboy and sh*male or d*ckgirl are often used to objectify and sexualize trans people based on body plans they often have. Intersex is a general term covering a variety medical conditions where people are born with non-standard reproductive or sexual anatomy. Hermaphrodite refers to bodies with two or more sets of reproductive or sexual anatomy, and was intended to be used for some species of plant and animal, but is recently being used along with intersex for both humans (as in the previous sentence) and plants and animals, depending on the specific anatomical setup. However, these days hermaphrodite is still used in an objectifying way towards people and harmfully thrown about, and many people do not advocate its use.

Using any of these terms or ones like them for people and their bodies, without their consent, is incredibly harmful and leads to trivialization of people's experiences. Because these terms are widely accepted as fetish terms, using them, even when you do have permission from the other person (or if you are describing yourself), can vary from dangerous, to uncomfortable, to just crass and ill-suited to your conversation.

My goal here is not only to provide a plain word that can cover a larger area when talking about people or characters and their bodies, but to do so in a way that avoids slurs, does not involve the person's gender, and also does not contain gendered language. I think everyone should be able to draw cool characters with cool bodies and describe them effectively, without harming others unnecessarily. I think trans people should be able to own their amazing bodies without feeling forced to use words they are uncomfortable with!

Another reason I made this term is to drive a much needed wedge between non-standard body plans and transgender characters. Sometimes a character really isn't a trans guy, they're just themselves - there was no transition for them, and they have always had this gender ID, they just have a different and/or fantastical body that we're trying to describe. I've seen it suggested to tag art "transgender" if a character in it has a non-standard body plan, but, IMO, doing this sometimes unnecessarily conflates certain bodies with transness (or certain types of transness). That's a whole new mess that none of us need.

To be clear, this is not meant to all-out replace the problematic terms I mentioned! If you're trans and using those terms for yourself, because you happen to like them, or to reclaim them, and you don't even want an alternative, that's okay! This is meant to expand the amount of language for gender and bodies, and to invite introspection on those topics among people they relate to and impact, and nothing else.

In closing

Namiin and I have adopted altersex fully into our language to describe all the characters we have with different bodies, or to describe how we do, used to, or want to see our own bodies, and we both really, really enjoy it. It's eliminated pretty much all terms we don't want to use to describe these things, which leads to us being happier and healthier in expressing ourselves!

So far, my only issues with it are how similar it is to existing terms like demisexual (or sensual, or romantic) now less of an issue after changing to "altersex"! Additionally, it bothers me how the complex nature of this entire topic makes it a lot less accessible to those learning English for the first time or who simply struggle with it (I know I do sometimes), or those who are new to this topic and suddenly being swamped with terms they don't know how or when to use.

I have been wanting to make this journal for a while, honestly. I'm really excited to share something that may help others as much as it's helped Namiin and I!

What do you all think of this? Do you think there is something I could improve about how I'm using it? Do you think this is problematic for a reason I haven't addressed or maybe do not know? I 100% invite discussion on this whole thing. I don't consider myself to have found the holy grail of language by any means, I just think this is considerably better than anything else I've heard or had suggested.

Overly rude, transphobic, or cissexist comments may be hidden. If you're confused by all of this, that's okay, and I encourage you to do some research or try to ask questions, but I also want this journal to remain safe for myself and others to read through and participate in, without harassment or unnecessary harm coming to anyone, intentional or not.

Altersex - body descriptor and alternative to fetish terms?

SpottyJaguar

23 July 2015 at 19:04:01 MDT

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  • Link

    This is dreadfully clever, I like it.

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    word. using this from now on. i usually just call my 'sona "lady with a dick" but demisex just sounds too good and i'd like to see it catch on.

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    I really, really like this.

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    THANK YOU for this.

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    Thank you, this is really helpful.

    In a similar vein, one thing that has made me uncomfortable is a lot of YCH auctions where the artist says something like "female/male characters only" or uses those gender symbols to convey the same. Because obviously that's cissexist; just because a character has breasts and a vulva doesn't mean it's female, but there's really no catch-all term for describing a so-called "standard" body either without somehow referencing gender, and it's really made me fumble as far as describing the things I like to draw. So I guess this is just an open question about how we can deal with that stuff as well.

    I've spoken to trans people who have no desire to physically transition for any number of reasons, and I just want to make sure I'm being sensitive to that.

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      In those cases I guess I'd say "Cis man/woman" but even that is clumsy (although I can hardly see myself ever restricting to that....like...why)

      • Link

        Also inaccurate tbh....this stuff is so hard.

    • Link

      I think the answer you are looking for is DFAB or DMAB. Designated Male/Female At Birth!

      Where my journal is talking about terms for non-standard body plans, these terms refer to bodies that do fit the accepted standards, such as only having developed breasts, a vulva, and the reproductive anatomy needed to give birth, or having a penis, testicles, the anatomy needed to produce semen, and breasts that will not/should not develop. This doesn't involve the person's gender in any way.

      I use it for real-world bodies, including my own; for example, I can use DFAB when talking about my body, explaining that I was born with breasts and a vulva and that whole kit, stopping me from having to get into a "physical" or "biological sex" conversation, or from having to use language like "female genitalia/body," which is unpleasant and inaccurate. Because being DFAB has nothing to do with gender, it allows me to be DFAB and non-binary, or male, or agender, or whatever label applies to me. (I'm NB; I mentioned several labels for thoroughness)

      LaughingDove has suggested cis man or cis woman, and but using those terms will put you in the same, if not a worse boat, with Your-Character-Heres, for the reasons above. We all agree that having a certain body plan does not mean you have a certain gender, so my advice is to be as direct as possible while still describing what you need.

      If you draw a YCH where one character has a vulva -- excluding instances where you can change the sketch/anatomical details at the client's request -- just say that the character who ends up in that position needs to/should have a vulva. The same with penises. They should either already have one, or the client should be wiling to have them drawn with one, that's just what you need for the art - it has nothing to do with gender, so there is no real need to reference gender, in this situation.

      I hope this answers your questions!

      • Link

        This this this. If your pose requires a character to have breasts, penis, a vulva, tentacles, any combination of the above, etc, you should just say 'Character slot A requires that the character be drawn with a groin tentacle. Please do not bid if your character does not have one or if you are not comfortable having your character drawn with one.' Specifically stating that a character getting done in the butt at an angle that would not show breasts doesn't mean the character has to be male or even DMAB - just that they have a butt and that breasts are probably not optimal for this pose. If there's a body configuration you're not comfortable drawing, like flat chest + vulva, just say 'No characters with a flat chest and a vulva - any other combination is fine'. If the second character in the pose is your own and is a straight man with a thing for boobs, just say 'character must be feminine and have breasts' (or even 'character must have breasts, a vulva, and no other sex organs' if your character is transphobic or something idk 9_6 ). It's a lot easier than trying to cover all the gender bases, and it's just more accurate!

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        It does, thank you! :)

  • Link

    I like this idea. I hate hate the phrase c*ntboy but I also feel weird using the term intersex for characters that are fantasy mashup sorts of deals since like it doesn’t match up with real world medical conditions..... and also it's like unicorns and tentacles genitalia.

  • Link

    This is awesome! I like this a lot.

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    This is good and you should feel good.

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    Bless.

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    thank you ;-; im going to admit that i dont feel like a transgender man. I dont have the body plan. Im shaped like a fertility statue, im fat, theres no ifs ands or buts. I have big breasts. My hips are huge. I hate it. Every time i look at transgender related art or photos of men, they are gorgeous, muscular creatures and just..ugh. I dont feel like i fit. And this term seems right to me.

    Also I hate the use of the other terms you typed out(I wont repeat them they make me wince) and I really wish people would use different terms

  • Link

    I like this, but what's to prevent this from being used for fetishes and thus gaining a vulgar a connotation in the future?

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    I dunno that I'd go for it, personally. Demi- carries connotations that I don't think I'd care for. There's nothing 'half' or 'partial' about my sexuality, gender, or sex, either the one I really have or the ones I wish I had. For myself, and if sticking to latin roots, I might start using mutisexual, to represent personal desires changing. In that sense, the idea of 'across' in 'trans' would work but trans-sexual and cis-sexual already have currency. Mutisexual works for a variable nonbinary like me.

    For others in general, perhaps a term we could use (without using any connotations of 'half' or 'incomplete') would be Metabisexual? It's a chimera (I cringe) but the idea of coming 'after' the 'bisexual' divide would be more accurate and less prone to misunderstanding. I think.

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      Several people pointed out the issues with demisex as a term, because of the prefix, and I have changed the journal to use "alter," for altersex, instead. I apologize for the initial version of the word - because it's readily used for demisexuality as an orientation, I was not wholly aware of its connotations!

      FaroreNightclaw had suggested altersex (for general use), and later phantasex (for specifically plans that are not physically viable), and I've chosen to go with the former. I feel it is packed in with the fewest potentially-icky connotations. I do not think I would use "meta," as it seems to have a very different meaning colloquially, present day, and I also do not think "bi" would be a good fit, as it is still being contested here and there, and also would not fit this concept very well, in my understanding.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Link

    I would still use cuntboy/cboy/etc for myself because I personally have no concern with it's usage in regards to me personally. I do understand how people may not like it, but in describing myself, much like term intersex, I have no real problems with it. Demi might not be the way to go though if referring to a complete individual, it does basically mean "half" after all. I always felt how you personally regard the term used for yourself is more important than making sure everyone uses the same one. Granted, that's just me of course. If you like the term, go for it.

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      I definitely don't think has to use the same thing, no! Language evolves naturally, and trying to really limit it like that is just not going to work. The purpose of this journal is to give this conversation a starting point, and, true to the nature of language, I have already made a big change to the text after you and others expressed concerns, haha. I have moved to "alter" as a prefix, to free up "demi" and avoid the "half" and "incomplete" connotations.

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        I certainly wasn't trying to get you to change anything!

        To me it really does just come down to what you're comfortable with using. That doesn't make it easy to "standardize" the terms, so to speak, but leaving it in the hands of the individual always seemed like the way to go.

        Long reply made short: Use whatever you're comfortable with!

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    This is just great! I wish I could write out a more formed reply but on mobile rn, however I think you're really hitting nail on the head here. My only concern is the demisexual thing as well and people shortening both to "demi" there might be some confusion. I'll ask some of my demisexual friends and see what they think.

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      You weren't the only one to be concerned about just how close it was to demisexual, and after another user suggested "altersex," I decided to go with that, instead, for the journal, as it's more unique and direct. I think "alter" as a prefix benefits the concept I'm trying to establish language for and is a much better fit than "demi." Just wanted to let you know that it changed. ^^

      Thanks so much!

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        Makes a lot of sense to me!

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    I really like this, a lot. For those who take issue with 'demi' as a prefix, might I suggest 'altersex' instead? Just off the top of my head. But I think demisex is awesome and should happen as a Thing.

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      I am on my phone before bed, but I wanted to reply to this comment before too long. A few different people have expressed issue with the demi prefix, and the crit is all valid, so I believe I will go ahead and switch to altersex instead.

      More than anything, it's much much more literal than demi, which I think is good for the term? Just being "alternate" promotes the idea that the sex/body plan is its own, whole thing, just a different one. It's much closer to what I originally wanted the term to do.

      • Link

        Oops, didn't refresh before leaving a second comment. I like altersex for alternate body plans, but I think as specific terms I like phantasex for bodies that could not occur in meatspace. I like the sound of a couple of others too but I think for the most part altersex gets the point across as a group term.

    • Link

      Other options, looking at root words:

      Amplisex (abundant/bountiful)
      Hedosex (more lewd, hedo- means pleasure, as in hedonism)
      Phantasex (fantasy, for impossible body plans)
      Iridisex (rainbow, queer connotations)
      Liberasex (freedom)
      Metasex (above, among, beyond)
      Peransex (across, beyond)
      Polysex (many sexes, not to be confused with polysexual, which is a sexual orientation)
      Pulchrisex (beautiful)
      Bisex or Binisex (two, not to be confused with bisexual, the sexual orientation)
      Duasex or Duosex (two, alternative to Bisex)
      Trisex (three, etc)

      I still think Diallo has come up with an awesome term and I will probably use it, but there's some alternatives for people that want a word but don't like 'demisex'.

      • Link

        Ooh, I rather like several of these. I think I'll try a few of them, see how they fit.

      • Link

        Hmmnifty. I could see liberasex as a term for those without sex organs (used in the sense of having freedom from, rather than having freedom to), in order to distinguish it from asexual since that's come into common usage as something else. That'd yield a full "null" set for gender/sex/orientation: agender (or neutrois) / liberasex / asexual.

        Also, I like phantasex and am going to use it. :)

      • Link

        I really really like alter and phantasex! Thank you so much for suggestingthose, I had no idea that "demi" could be icky, when I posted this. @@

        I could definitely see using phantasex and really like it, and some of the others in your comment, to go along with, or be derivatives of, altersex. I prefer the altesex for the purposes of this journal, though, simply because I don't want to begin this kind of conversation about bodies and what we call them with a hard distinction between fantasy and reality and what is possible and what is not? That line is definitely there-- I know i can't actually have multiple tentacle cocks like I want to-- but I don't want to volunteer the idea that something has to be called something else just because it's not possible in meatspace, if I don't have to.

        I know lots of trans people who may have altersex characters as a form of therapy or a way to feel good about their bodies, and I want to make room for that with this term, and I think altersex does that without including or excluding any particular setup based on physical viability. My monstersona has big bifurcated dino junk and a strange quasi-scrotum pouch thingy, because that feels good to me, and I know some trans women have characters with idealized breasts plus penis (sometimes plus vulva) body plans, etc.

        Things like that can be a big part of trans experience, so I think it's important not to say too much in either direction about those things, at least in the beginning, so as not to linguistically pigeonhole the conversation. I hope that makes sense. There's a lot of facets to this whole topic!

        I want to make lots of room for everyone, and invite them to use different, specific words if that's what speaks to them. If altersex is just a good, unbiased category-label, to come back to, for the base concept, then I'm still super happy!

        Not arguing at all with you by the way, just rambling a lot because i'm excited, ahah!

  • Link

    I'm a botanist by trade, and I'd really like to read your references for the use of "intersex" towards plants. Most plants have reproductive structures which produce pollen and others that produce ova on the same individual, but are rarely called hermaphrodites - they're monoecious. A minority (including pistachio and avocado trees) are dioecious - they have separate individuals which produce pollen or ova, but not both. What with plant sex(es) having about as much relevance to their animal counterparts as fungal mating strains (+/-) do to either, I'm curious. Share?

    • Link

      Scientists are, in my reading, generally leaning toward 'intersex' for plants and animals with ambiguous genitalia that is not two or more fully functioning sets of genitalia. Hermaphrodite or true hermaphrodite is still used for beings that do have two or more fully functional sets of sex organs.

      • Link

        That's what I suspected SpottyJaguar meant, but the way it was phrased left me unsure. Thanks!

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          Whoops! I've changed the wording a little bit, hopefully for the better! I am not well-read in botany or any of the surrounding topics, but Farore is correct, and his comment is what I was going for in the journal.

  • Link

    Diggin this! I also like the altersex one. I've always wondered about these characters - some people love them, some people identify with them, and there's definitely a place for them, but I agree we need some new terms. Thanks for the post, I hope this catches on!

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    It's posts like this that make me glad that weasyl has a favorite option for journals.

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    I've changed the journal's text to use "alter" instead of "demi" as a prefix for this term. The change was made after several people rightfully pointed out issues with "demi" regarding it's meaning being "half" or "incomplete," something I was not wholly aware of, as well as it already existing a a prefix for demisexual, demisensual, and demiromantic orientations (as well as occasionally gender labels), something I do not want to be confused with this term or this concept!

  • Link

    but if people are still going to use it and perpetuate common harmful tropes to trans people then I don't really see how it's going to change much other than language usage

    • Link

      I apologize in advance for this really disproportionately wordy comment, ahah.

      I understand this line of thought a lot, and I worry about that too. I think looking at that so specifically kind of... not misses the point, but overshadows a big part of why I thought up this word: to help trans people. Yeah, having a word to use instead of slurs helps people who are throwing slurs around to stop doing that, and, yeah, that is different than stopping or attacking tropes themselves... but it also helps trans people to stop doing the same thing, which, in turn, can help everyone to - passively or actively - educate each other.

      I think that sometimes it's easier to start with language, even? Because even the good people sometimes use slurs, because the vocabulary is so limited. I could have easily made a different journal about tropes are bad, because they are, but without providing alternative language... even if you're not tropey, I'm only helping but so much. A lot of people have already said that fetishizing and tropes and all of those things are bad, but I never see anyone talking about how to dismantle them on the linguistic level, and, as someone with lots of altersex characters, talking about language is what I need, and, so, what I wrote.

      For me, the most constructive way out of something harmful (in this case, transphobic tropes, and the harm they cause), is to try and remove the harmful elements (in this case, transphobic and cissesxist slurs, and the trivialization of them and their usage) while promoting introspection and analysis, as well as providing information about the topic as a whole. It's a multi-faceted issue and I don't think it can or should be tackled in any particular way or order, so long as all of it is talked about.

      I can't get rid of tropes with just a fancy word that I stuck together, at all. That's completely right! I can, however, use the word (and by extension this journal that people can comment on and discuss within) as a talking point. To me, it's about beginning conversation on why a word like altersex is necessary in the first place, the issues the existing language causes, prompting brainstorming about what language we can used instead, the people who are continually hurt by us not changing langugage, and so on.

      If all this journal does is change a few people's language, that's still significant, in my opinion.

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        OK but you said this was a discussion about how it could change ppls language and how it would be helpful but like just changing a word does not change the harm that people are doing? Like sure I'm not going to say that everyone is doing it to be harmful so that's probably a great word for them but if you want to change something you need to consider the possibility that it isn't going to be used as well as your intentions make it seem and several people have stated that they'd rather derogatory words (even when they are definitely not trans)
        I think we both know why they want to use those words and even if they changed the language they still want the focus to be on the genetalia as a fetish given that they aren't trans and dealing with internal transmisogyny/transphobia

        So even if you think I'm missing the point in some roundabout way, I'm not.
        I don't deal with reading and writing long things very well so I really won't be a great conversation partner about this so all I can say at this point is that it's going to probably still be used in harmful ways even if the language is changed there's still a large possibility to other trans people
        If you want you don't even have to respond to this so no pressure there I just say consider the possibility

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          I have often seen it said that language informs thought. Before you can explain to someone that certain tropes are bad and thought patterns are transphobic and all that, you have to give them an alternative. This is a single step in a process, a single tooth on a gear in the machine of dismantling transphobia, intersexphobia, and oppression in general. This is not the be-all end-all of Fixing The Problem. It helps tackle one aspect of it that hasn't been successfully tackled before, to the best of my knowledge. And language is very important for shaping thought; if you remove the slurs, it helps people think of things in less damaging, degrading terms. It's much easier to think transphobic thoughts while verbally reducing a trans body to what genitals it has that one can fetishize. A clean, respectful term is needed, and so Diallo is trying to provide that, to further conversations about thought and language.

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            People don't call trans bodies "trans bodies" they call them harmful slurs and to make a new word which is just a literal replacement for slurs doesn't change anything.

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              Ooookay. So you're saying that there's nothing we can do and we should just accept that trans people will be degraded no matter what? Gotcha. Thanks for your helpful attitude.

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                um ok sorry for coming off as rude... I just think it's not a very helpful thing not that there shouldn't be anything done about it. I don't have alternatives I just think that it isn't going to do any real good and possibly more harm. And, to be honest, your attitude is less than helpful here. Please don't put words in someone's mouth when they disagree... I have no intention to fight I just disagree.

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                  You're not acting like you want to fight, you're acting like you want to shut Diallo (and me) down. That is not a safe way to behave when what's involved is trans people talking about their own experiences and things that affect them.

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                  But what about the trans people who already say they appreciate this? What about myself, who has been helped by this already (I no longer have to label my characters inappropriately or with slurs, allowing me to comfortably talk about them with friends, and more safely share them with strangers), and for whom its helpfulness was the inspiration to write this journal in the first place?

                  I 100% understand your pessimism and I 100% understand your disquiet at the reality that this term can and will be misused, or will be discarded in favor of existing slurs. However, like I said in my first reply to you, I think that that's the wrong thing to focus on. I can't help people who feel like they don't need this term, and who read this journal and discard it automatically. You have to want to change your language, before I can do anything, and then, before you actually do change your language, you have to have something to change it to.

                  This is not about giving icky people a Fresh New Slur to use, it's about giving people who maybe are not icky a new word that is not a slur. It's about giving people, especially trans people, with characters that are not trans, a new word that is not a slur.

                  I don't hugely disagree with you and I don't think you're missing the point, because your argument does hold water. I just think that you're focusing on something I have little to no control over. "People are just going to use it like a slur anyway, this isn't helpful at all" feels really defeatist and... I guess targeted, in a negative way.

                  My goal isn't to argue with you or to stress you out at all, so I can totally disengage if this isn't working for you. I do realize that what you're talking about can happen, I just don't want to let it stop me. That's why I did this.

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    Yes!

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    I can absolutely get behind this. Hope it catches on!

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    ohh this is really nice wow!!

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    I think while this is an excellent attempt, there's still a place it falls short.

    Namely, d*ckgirls exist.

    They don't exist, necessarily, as people for whom their body developed naturally, but as people who transitioned into their body plan. You argue that this is functionally different from people who were 'born this way', but does that make sense especially in a fantasy setting? Can someone become altersex at all given this argument, even through magical means? Would that require that someone's history being changed so they had always been altersex?

    It's an edge case that's poorly handled, I think. The body of a trans woman who goes on HRT or who becomes transformed is functionally identical to a born-this-way d*ckgirl and yet there are two terms defined based on the provenance of that body plan. The implication is that there are body plans that are impossible to transition to, even in the most fantastic setting, and that you have to be born with that body plan for it to count as that identity, which is, however unintentionally, transphobic.

    I think perhaps the best way to resolve this is to simply be agnostic as to what a transformed body is called. If a character identifies as altersex after having transitioned, so be it; if a character identifies as a trans woman or some other identity after having transitioned, then so be it too. I don't think there's any way to define something well enough to be able to categorize everyone into boxes without denying someone's identity; the only thing that can be done is to have people categorize theirselves, with their own boxes if necessary.

    I mean, that said, this is a really important post and I'm glad you wrote it. I don't want to make it seem like I don't like anything about it. I agree that the existing language around fantasy body types is terrible and I agree that moving to real-world terms doesn't make sense and is insensitive to actual intersex people and the like, and I think this post does a lot of work to help solve that issue.

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      Nono, you're missing the point. It's the other way around. Altersex can refer to both trans bodies AND fantasy bodies, even ones that look identical... so that fantasy bodies don't have to be called transgender bodies when they clearly aren't. It's about undoing misuse and appropriation of terms, not about saying trans bodies are better or worse than born-that-way fantasy bodies. Does that make more sense?

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      I want to thank you for this comment! It's nicely thought out and I appreciate what you're pointing out with it.

      Regarding that edge case - which, of course, you can make that argument for c*ntboy type body plans, too - I think you've actually answered your own question. You should be agnostic as to what an individual body is called, because the point of altersex, as a term, is to lessen appropriation and misuse of language (using trans for characters that are not trans, or using slurs you should not be using) on the broad scale by giving you at least one more option, one that is not so uncomfortable and harmful - at an individual level, which term you use (transgender or altersex) depends on the owner of the body or character. We have no say in that.

      It's not "use altersex instead of trans if you have this type of body," which really just takes the choice away from you, which is bad, it's "if you have this type of body, and you know trans isn't the right word, here's another option, that's not a slur." I hope that makes sense!

      An ideal usage would be for characters that exist in a world where, say, sure, you can use magic to change up your body and go through a physical transition, or maybe you were just born with that body plan, but there's no social equivalent to being transgender (the way you and I would understand that concept).

      There, it wouldn't really sensible (arguably, it would border on being inappropriate) to say that they're a trans character, or that they have "a trans body." But! you don't want to use a slur to describe them either. So, with this, there's another option, altersex. They exist solely as this alternate body plan, and there is a term that means just that. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing harmful.

      I hope that clears that up! Thank you again for this comment, my brain liked it a lot and it was satisfying to answer. :)

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    Altersex. I like it. I think I'll begin using it in conjunction with my no "h*erm", "f*ta", "d*ckgirl", etc. rules. I think it'll accurately convey that I am wiling to depict any folk's identity, but I will not support a dehumanizing fetish.

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      Super belated comment, but, I'm glad you like this! That is definitely a great application for the term - feel 100% free to link this in any relevant commission opening or terms of service writings as reference material! :)

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    As a person who's never liked the potentially slanderous tone of 'c*ntboy', and having to use it often as I often like my character portrayed as one, I really like this. I've posted a journal on FA linking to this one, and hopefully the word will spread!

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    It's a pretty good, clean term. Probably the best I've seen so far, to be honest.

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    Wow-- this is SO needed. Thank you!!

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    This is certainly interesting. Altersex seems like a new coinage to cover, what is it again, all non-cis(sexual)? bodies including fantasy ones? Do I have that right? C***boy literally can't be used in conversation with children, yo' mama, or aristocrats, so cleaner words are needed for conversations with these groups of people.

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      "Non-cis" bodies is more or less what this is for, yes. I believe better terminology (which I only recently discovered) would be ["dyadic"], so as to remove gender - the use of "cis" - from the language entirely, when we are talking solely about bodies and body plans.

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    I use those words for my characters, in furry smut, and that doesn't bother me at all. I make a huge difference between furry smut and real life. I would never insult an intersexed person, nor an FtM, nor a MtF. But I don't take furry things seriously. Maybe I should?

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      If you are not trans or intersex, then, respectfully, this is not about whether you yourself are bothered by the terms, because these terms are slurs that are not being used to discriminate against you and to dehumanize you and your life. If you are trans or intersex, and you are not bothered by these slurs, IMO you are still responsible for the language you use and the content you produce for others to consume.

      I understand the want to make a big distinction between fiction and furry smut and meatspace, but doing so is actually pretty harmful. Fiction and porn is real life? How wouldn't it be? I read it with my real eyes, I comment on things with my real fingers - if I am particularly moved by something, even or perhaps especially erotic fiction, aren't my emotions about it real? I'm not just magically not impacted by work just because it's fictional or something.

      Fiction is not reality in and of itself, but it is something that exists within in the real world, as real people create, critique, and consume it, and so creators must be responsible for their actions and inaction towards those who can and do consume their media. Intersex and trans people are part of that audience. We consume media. Filling fiction with slurs and dehumanizing tropes can and will impact us, and I absolutely implore you to take it seriously and use better language.

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        Okay. When I draw a herm, I call that char a herm. Goodbye. Unwatched. I iuse the language I want because I ain't one to obey easily. Hyena!

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          Wow. Dumbass.

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    Love this - hated the idea of calling my character trans or c*boy, bc its not entirely accurate (im dfab but my character is a shapeshifter so it does what it wants).. this is much better. I think this would be good if widely used.

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    Nice! Is there a partner/opposite word coined for this? Or would dyadic be appropriate?

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    A well reasoned article, and I do approve of "altersex" as a generic term. When going technical, we do have male/female/herm for well known classifications but others we still need to work on.

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      I'm glad you approve! Thank you so much :)

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    Liking this. Feels sensible, rolls off the tongue well. Not sure how well it'll catch on yet, but everything has to start somewhere.

    I wonder, though, about that specific (though somewhat broad) bodyplan, often handled with that one H term. In nature it's appropriate to just state such a creature is hermaphroditic, but I know similar terms have been horribly misused in the past, towards humans. I'm not sure if using the term properly, and neutrally, will help to quench it as a slur, or if there's some move towards a better term as a shorthand.

    I personally use the term to describe certain characters or species elsewhere, is why I bring this up. It seems most correct, when the subject possesses both male and female reproductive organs. I know this is probably an open question, and not something to be answered easily, but maybe it's worth some time.

    Thanks for thinking about all this.

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      Thank you very much for this comment, I enjoy thinky things like this. :)

      A very short answer is that it's not about the accuracy of calling a character or species a herm - whether or not they're a "true," fully functioning hermaphrodite, or whether it's just an approximation - it's about sensitivity to one's audience, the human people who will be looking at these characters or species.

      I don't think anyone's upset because people are using herm for "fantasy" herms, when it should be reserved for "true" ones, to the tune of pedantry. I think people are upset with the word herm, in and of itself, because of how it's been used against people. People are upset about the word and its use, somewhat separate from it's meaning.

      This makes me feel like the best solution is to just not use that word if I don't have to, especially if I'm going to show my characters or species to people (because I can't know, and shouldn't try to find out, if they've been harmed themselves by "herm"), and especially if I have a neutral alternative (altersex) that will get my point across with absolutely zero risk.

      That's really what this is about I guess, minimizing risk where I can, giving alternative tools to who needs it.

      I do think hermaphrodite has a place and a use, particularly on less personable creations like non-sapient fauna (snails are hermaphrodites, for instance, and that's neat!), but maybe anthro/fantasy characters would benefit from a more sensitive approach? Our characters, and, by extension, us, we aren't snails.

      I hope this gives some insight!

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        Glad to hear back on this!

        I can say I'm not really fond of the "true" question myself, either. I just think of it from a biology standpoint, as to using the term for a species. No real world sentient species is hermaphroditic, that we've encountered anyway. But yes, the separation between how scientific terms work, and how general English terms evolve, probably speaks to this.

        I'm generally a fan of absorbing or neutralizing terms that otherwise cause problems, but this probably doesn't apply. While I don't have any personal issues with the word herm, I can see how others might. And since it's not something that exists in the real world, there's no group to absorb it, only those hurt or neutral towards it.

        The term "dual sex" seems to make sense, and I see it elsewhere, if rarely. Maybe that's an option, when a character has both sets of organs. They're definitely altersex, I'm just hoping for a narrower shorthand as well.

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    Digging this! For a while I've just been not labeling any of my art with multi/fantasy configurations because the existing terms are so darn offensive. I might go ahead and start tagging my artwork with "altersex"

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      Thanks! Aahh I would be honored if you did! It's cool seeing that some people have already started tagging with it :) I want to draw more characters with fun setups just so I have an excuse to, ahaha.

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    Late to the party on this. As a trans woman, who is in a relationship with trans women and an agender person, who designs characters based around alternate body physiological builds and who is also very much against the constant slurs, this is a huge plus. It gives me a word to use for a character of mine other than intersex (because I mean they aren't intersex, but there just wasn't a word that fit that wasn't a stupid slur), it gives people a word to describe their characters AND even those who experience dysphoria about not having the genitalia they would if they were altersex. I know a few friends who would take interest in this word, both trans and not.

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    Late as well but aaahhh thank you for positing this and seeing the need for it!! Especially off gallery sites i'm really uncomfortable tagging my art with intersex or trans (esp gender-specific trans words), particularly erotic/fetish artwork.

    I always wanted a space that wouldn't take away relevant discussions and resources from other trans and/or intersex ppl; esp for people who always see themselves fetishized or fictionalized having some relatively less porny spaces to browse. And even though I want words that indicate some level of fantasy, there's plenty of ppl who think it's only fantasy and refuse to see the harm that the words they use to describe "totally not real representations of human sex/genders", how those words exist outside of the narrow context they put them in and are used very violently against others who live in the realities they pretend at. Wowo convoluted sentence alert. & as said above, the way that kind of attitude makes trans and intersex ppl feel alienated to art and adult content that includes bodies that are similar to how ours are or have been.

    Anyway I'm totally adopting altersex as a relevant tag to describe my various non-dyadic and non-cis characters; particularly on tumblr. It's kind of freeing, to not have to think about categorizing them as either gross fetish terms or feel like i'm presenting objective intersex and trans realities. It makes me feel like there's more people who are willing to see them as depictions of diverse bodies and not fetish objects?? insert some caveat about exaggerating sexual characteristics feeling less othering and more in-line with how cis dyadic bodies' exaggeration is communicated?? idk.

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    Super late to the party, but thank you SO MUCH for this. I've been looking for something to use for so long and I really appreciate your work here :)

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    Very late, but I really, really appreciate this. Altersex fills a much-needed void in the language to describe something that's very common in the fandom without the ugly language. I hope you never take this down, I'll probably link to it periodically in reference to my own characters to be able to educate others. Extremely clever and well thought out, thank you again.

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    Thank you so much for this. I have been looking for this exact kind of thing for so long...

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    I'm trying to add this term to a LBGT+/MOGAI term/flag database I help maintain, and the only roadblock right now is that there's an intersex person the other person I help knows who doesn't like this; I responded saying that I think one of the contributors(farore) might be intersex but that's just some weird vague memory so I wasn't sure if it was true. Anyways, the other person requested a voice from an intersex person for this term before it's added to make sure it isn't intersexphobic or something, although I personally think that this is definitely better than misusing the term intersex left and right. Maybe they think that altersex bodies shouldn't be made for characters at all... as some do think this way, that making a character with a different body is offensive.

    Also, I ID as altersex (I'm otherkin and my true self is altersex) and I made a flag! http://sta.sh/0295ge3x097s

    Green is for abundance, referring to the abundance of possibilities a body can have. Mint/pastel green is also used in flags for some specific terms under the umbrella of altersex, namely angenital and salmacian/bigenital.

    Blue is for fluidity, for individuals with fluid sex characteristics.

    White is for transcendence (of sexes known to humans, of cissexism, etc.) as well as individuals with no sex traits whatsoever, "blankness"

    Pink is for sex characteristics, to reinforce the meaning of the term altersex. It also represents self-love and body positivity for altersex individials.

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      Oh, anyone can reply to this if they're intersex to confirm, please do so if you're comfortable.

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      I forgot purple: to represent the alternative and creative nature of altersex.

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    If you wish, I have a list of current terms that fit under the altersex umbrella that existed before altersex was coined; namely, off the top of my head : salmacian/bigenital, angenital, xenogenital, bodyfluid, and nullsex. Neutrois is a gender identity, not a "sex identity", but it is also often associated with sex dysphoria toward an altersex end. I'd imagine that pretty much anyone of any gender might have an internal image of themselves that is altersex.

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      I have the definitions should anyone want them.

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    I am glad I looked for this. This is quite relieving to see.

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    I set up a Weasyl account just to comment on this.

    Thank you for this! If you are comfortable, would you consider un-censoring the slurs discussed? It would, from a practical standpoint, make this much easier to stumble across on Google for folks seeking alternatives to terms like "herm." That's how I got here.

    I sometimes draw characters with ridiculous fantasy mashup junk. I've noticed several community members expressing discomfort at the term "herm" for this situation, but I really didn't feel comfortable tagging something so flagrantly fantasy-based as "intersex."

    It's my understanding that this type of content perpetuates the fetishization of/contributes to erasure of actual intersex bodies, but like many problematic tropes, it seems unrealistic to eliminate it entirely. If anyone has advice for minimizing the harm caused by this type of content, please do let me know. It seems the best I can say at the moment is "here's something I enjoy that is problematic."