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Crying
April 28th, 2014, 05:13 PM
So I wrote this for my partner- who is gender-neutral- and fae intends to illustrate it once I fix it up a little and turn it into more of a real children's story. I'd like to get feedback on how I could make this more child-friendly, as my main goal is to be able to help children understand gender-neutrality and such. It'd also help if I could get feedback on how to shorten it, as it's obviously pretty long ;w;
(hope you enjoy it! :>)

Once upon a time, in a little house in the middle of a beautiful forest, lived two sweethearts.
One sweetheart was named Iris, and she was born as a girl, and was very happy being a girl.
The other sweetheart, named Rosa, was born as a girl, but was not so happy as one. Rosa didn’t feel like a girl at all. In fact, Rosa didn’t feel like a girl or a boy! Rosa was somewhere inbetween, and that was okay.
Instead of calling Rosa ‘he’ or ‘she’, Iris called Rosa by ‘they’, and Rosa appreciated this very much.
The two lived together in their small yellow house with many windows, and they loved one another very much. The rooms in their house were always filled with light and laughter and music, and this was just the way they liked it.
Then, one morning, Rosa woke up earlier than usual. When she rolled over in bed, she saw that Iris was still sleeping. “Oh well,” they said. “I’ll just go for a little walk in the woods until my love wakes up.”
So Rosa got out of bed and pulled on some adventuring clothes, had a quick snack in the kitchen to give them energy, and left the little house, smiling at the beautiful trees.
Rosa walked for a while, enjoying the morning sun shining on their skin. Before long, they came across a little patch of purple flowers growing in the dirt.
“How lucky I am to live in such a beautiful forest,” Rosa thought, and leaned down to pick a few of them. However, as Rosa leaned down, they noticed a little snail, sliding slowly across the ground.
“Why, hello there, mr. Snail,” Rosa said, smiling. “Good morning, miss,” said the snail. “Oh, I’m very sorry, but I’m not a girl at all,” they corrected. “It was an honest mistake.”
“Oh?” said the snail, looking Rosa up and down. “You don’t look like a boy.”
“Well I’m not a boy either,” they said, laughing. “I’m not a boy or a girl.”
“Not a boy or a girl? What are you then?” he asked, sniffing distastefully.
“I’m just me,” Rosa said, and shrugged.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” snapped the snail. “You look like a girl, you sound like a girl, you’re even dressed like a girl. You must be confused. I’ll just call you a girl.”
And then, the snail turned and began to inch away. Rosa was a little upset with how rude he was, but all the same, they didn’t want to make a fuss, so they picked a few violets and went on their way.
Rosa kept walking for a while, keeping an eye out for more flowers. But before they could find any, Rosa came across a fat little robin, singing on a tree branch. “Good morning, mrs. Robin!” called Rosa. “Good morning, ma’am,” sang the robin. “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing very well, thank you, but I have to correct you- I’m not really a girl!”
“Terribly sorry, are you a boy, then?” asked the robin. “No, I’m not a boy either. I’m just me,” said Rosa. The robin fluttered down to the ground in front of them. “Not a boy or a girl? What do you mean by that?”
“Well, I’m somewhere inbetween, I guess,” explained Rosa. “I’ve just never really felt like either of them.”
“Hm,” said the robin. “Whatever you say. You’ll probably figure it out someday.”
“Figure what out?” asked Rosa, confused. “Well, you’ll figure out whether you’re a girl or a boy! Everyone is one or another, you must just be a little mixed up.”
“Wait a minute, I’m not mixed up at all-” started Rosa, but the bird turned and flew away. “Good luck, ma’am,” she called as she flew.
By now, Rosa was very upset. Why was everyone being so rude to them? When they tried to explain themself, people treated them like a child. Rosa thought briefly about turning back, but instead decided to keep walking for just a little longer. “Maybe I’ll meet a friend eventually,” they thought.
Sure enough, after a few more minutes, Rosa came across another animal- a tortoise- walking across the path. “Hi there, mr Tortoise,” Rosa said. “Good morning, my dear girl.”
“Terribly sorry, mister, but I’m not a girl. Or a boy,” they added quickly, seeing the tortoise open his mouth to speak again. “Not a girl or a boy, hm?” he said, raising one eyebrow. “Well what should I call you then?”
“Well, you could call me by my name,” Rosa said. “It’s Rosa. Or you could say ‘friend’ or ‘kid’ or-”
“Well what about if I want to talk about you to someone else,” said the tortoise. “Do I call you ‘he’ or ‘she’?”
“Usually, people just say ‘they’ instead of either of those.”
“Hmph,” snorted the tortoise. “But if I said ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’, it would sound like I was talking about more than one person. That’s not proper English. I’ll just call you ‘she’. You look like a girl anyways.” And the tortoise turned and walked away.
Rosa walked back to the little yellow house, sad and hurt. By the time they walked inside, Iris was already awake, and was cooking breakfast on the stove inside. “Good morning, darling. Did you have a nice walk?”
“No, I didn’t have a nice walk at all,” Rosa said sadly, and explained everything that had happened. Iris saw how upset her sweetheart was, and gave them a big hug. “That’s not very nice at all,” she said. “It sounds like they wouldn’t even listen!”
Rosa and Iris spent the rest of the day together, as usual. Iris made Rosa pancakes with smiley faces on them for breakfast. She played Rosa lots of sweet songs on the guitar, and at lunch she made them macaroni and cheese, Rosa’s favorite. When it was dinnertime, Iris set out candles and flowers to make the meal romantic, and when night finally fell, she tucked Rosa in with extra blankets, and gave her a kiss on the nose.
But none of this seemed to cheer her sweetheart up at all. Iris was confused and worried, not liking to see her dear love feel this sad.
And then, in the middle of the night, Iris got an idea. She popped her head out of the window to look at the moon, hanging beautiful and bright in the sky. “Hello, Moon,” she called. “Hello, Iris,” said the moon. “Are you enjoying the night?”
“Yes, very much, thank you. Say, Moon, I was wondering if I could ask you a question.”
“Go right ahead,” said the moon.
“Are you a boy, or a girl,” asked Iris. “A boy or a girl? Why, I’m not either. I’m just me. Just the moon.” Iris’ heart leapt, and she leaned further out of the window to whisper something to the moon. She was certain that she had an idea that would work.

The next day, Rosa was still sad and upset, but Iris told them that she had something that would cheer them up. All they had to do was to wait until the moon came out that night.
And so Rosa did, although she wasn’t really sure how it would help. Iris sat next to her in a chair beside the window, waiting. Before too long, forest animals began to scamper up to the window, and when enough of the little animals had gathered, the moon began to speak, in the soothing, sweet voice the animals loved so much.
“Who here knows who I am?” asked the moon. “We all do,” called the animals. “You’re the moon, of course!”
“That is correct,” said the moon. “Now, who here knows who the person sitting in that window is?” the animals looked over at Rosa. “I do!” called the tortoise. “That’s the one that told me she wasn’t a girl or a boy.” There was laughter across the crowd. “Not a boy or a girl? That doesn’t make any sense,” they all chuckled.
“Now now,” said the moon, calmly. “Another question.” The crowd quieted. “Does anyone here know whether I am a girl or a boy?” Suddenly, the animals looked a tad uneasy. “Why, the moon is a girl, of course,” whispered some. “Just listen to her beautiful voice.”
“No,” said others, “The moon must be a boy. I think the moon looks rather like a boy, really.”
“Actually,” said the moon quietly, “I am not a girl or a boy. I am just the moon, and all of you love me as the moon.” The animals stared, confused. “Why, the moon is right!” they thought to themselves. “The moon has never been anything but the moon, but we love it all the same.”
“Now do you understand why the things that you said to Rosa were hurtful?” asked the moon. “Only Rosa knows whether they are a boy or a girl, and if Rosa is neither, that’s alright, you see?” The animals were quiet at first, and then, slowly, the little robin hopped forwards out of the crowd, and fluttered to the windowsill where Rosa sat.
“Dear friend, I’m very sorry I was so rude to you,” said the bird, bowing her tiny head. “I guess I was the one who was confused after all.”
“I’m sorry too,” called the tortoise, stepping slowly forward. “Your comfort is more important than proper English, I suppose.”
“And I!” called the snail, climbing onto a leaf. “I suppose wearing dresses and skirts doesn’t have to make you a girl.”
Rosa was beaming with happiness. “I forgive you, friends,” they said. “And thank you, moon, for being so kind to me.”
And from that point forward, everyone in the forest lived happily and peacefully with one another. The animals were much more careful about listening and understanding, Rosa and Iris lived happily in their house together, and the moon shone bright above all of them, prouder than anything.

EmmaSohan
April 30th, 2014, 03:15 AM
I found this sweet and peaceful.

Except, the use of "they" to refer to a gender-neutral person was difficult. I know you have an agenda of what you want to accomplish, and that might be on your list. But you can only fight so many battles, and I don't think you could ever win that one.

Crying
April 30th, 2014, 04:09 PM
Hello, friend. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I understand the difficulty with grammar and all, but at the same time I think one of the little messages I was trying to convey was that really the comfort of the people who use these pronouns to accommodate their gender is really more important than correct grammar.
As for battle fighting- It's quite alright to believe what you want to, but I believe that you never even have a chance of winning a battle if you don't try and fight! :)
Gender neutrality may be a less-common issue than, say, gay rights or trans rights, but that only means that there are fewer fighters for the cause. I appreciate your feedback, but the subject really wasn't something I was willing to discuss. Hope I don't sound rude!
- Crying

Dave Newton
May 9th, 2014, 11:36 PM
Interesting concept. The only problem you have here is that you have the Narrator and Iris who are both calling Rosa "they". What is coming through is not so much the story of gender neutrality but your own agenda at the expense of literary integrity. It's ok to break rules but who is doing the breaking...the narrator or Iris?

patskywriter
May 10th, 2014, 04:49 PM
It's a bit confusing. You did start out referring to Rosa as "she" a couple of times in the beginning. Then you switched to "they," went back to "her," and ended with "they." Consistency is important; otherwise you'll appear to be as confused as the characters in the story.

If I were a kid, I'd be wondering how Rosa knew the genders of the animals she encounters.

tinacrabapple
May 16th, 2014, 02:29 AM
This has a lot of potential. There are some children that experience this kind of gender identity confusion, and such a book could be very helpful.

MercuryHomophony
June 7th, 2014, 12:55 AM
It's a bit confusing. You did start out referring to Rosa as "she" a couple of times in the beginning. Then you switched to "they," went back to "her," and ended with "they." Consistency is important; otherwise you'll appear to be as confused as the characters in the story.

If I were a kid, I'd be wondering how Rosa knew the genders of the animals she encounters.

I didn't notice the inconsistency at the beginning there, but that's a really important point, especially with what you're trying to teach.

I was also wondering how Rosa knew the genders of the animals they walked by, but I imagine the art will help - and, as Rosa did, if any of the animals had a problem with the gender they were addressing them as, I'm sure the snail or the tortoise or the robin would have spoken up.

The use of the moon and the way Rosa's problem and the animals' confusion is resolved was very clever, as well.

As for using "they" for a gender-neutral person, its becoming more and more common in the English language to use they as a single person neutral pronoun anyways. Most of the confusion comes from a lack of experience reading it. It's like looking at any other homonym and not understanding it until you've learned to use its multiple definitions. Since you're trying to teach kids about gender neutrality and one particular way of addressing it, I think you've picked a very good way to go about it.

I can't wait to see it illustrated too!

Nicholas McConnaughay
June 12th, 2014, 08:35 AM
I would always wonder if the individuals posting on my thread actually read what I posted. You know, to make sure that they aren't just posting "Good job" or "That sucked." What I wanted to do was mark any of the little nitpicks that I had as I was reading. They aren't necessarily wrong. I make mistakes as well. However, I mark things where when I read, I thought changed should have been made.

As for the story, I liked it. I think it will especially be enjoyable with there is illustrations to go with it. Obviously, anything about gender-neutrality might be a tough sell for some. However, I appreciated the whimsical and light-heart feeling that it invoked. Some of the errors that others have pointed out are accurate. The use of the moon was cute. It's a cute story. Good job.




----

Once upon a time, in a little house in the middle of a beautiful forest, lived two sweethearts.
One sweetheart was named Iris, and she was born as a girl, and was very happy being a girl.
The other sweetheart, (I don't know if you need to use sweetheart again after the first time. I don't know. I stopped when I read it and others might. I feel like it bothered the flow.) named Rosa, was born as a girl, but was not so happy as one. Rosa didn’t feel like a girl at all. In fact, Rosa didn’t feel like a girl or a boy! Rosa was somewhere inbetween, (in-between) and that was okay.
Instead of calling Rosa ‘he’ or ‘she’, Iris called Rosa by ‘they’, and Rosa appreciated this very much.
The two lived together in their small yellow house with many windows, and they loved one another very much. The rooms in their house were always filled with light and laughter and music, and this was just the way they liked it.
Then, one morning, Rosa woke up earlier than usual. When she rolled over in bed, she saw that Iris was still sleeping. “Oh well,” they said. “I’ll just go for a little walk in the woods until my love wakes up.”
So, (coma) Rosa got out of bed and pulled on some adventuring clothes, had a quick snack in the kitchen to give them energy, and left the little house, smiling at the beautiful trees.
Rosa walked for a while, enjoying the morning sun shining on their skin. Before long, they came across a little patch of purple flowers growing in the dirt.
“How lucky I am to live in such a beautiful forest,” Rosa thought, and leaned down to pick a few of them. However, as Rosa leaned down, they noticed a little snail, sliding slowly across the ground.
“Why, hello there, mr. (Did you not capitalize it for a reason? I kind-of like it, but just thought I'd point it out) Snail,” Rosa said, smiling. “Good morning, miss,” said the snail. “Oh, I’m very sorry, but I’m not a girl at all,” they corrected. “It was an honest mistake.”
“Oh?” said the snail, looking Rosa up and down. “You don’t look like a boy.”
“Well, (coma) I’m not a boy either,” they said, laughing. “I’m not a boy or a girl.”
“Not a boy or a girl? What are you then?” he asked, sniffing distastefully.
“I’m just me,” Rosa said, and shrugged.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” snapped the snail. “You look like a girl, you sound like a girl, you’re even dressed like a girl. You must be confused. I’ll just call you a girl.”
And then, the snail turned and began to inch away. Rosa was a little upset with how rude he was, but all the same, they didn’t want to make a fuss, so they picked a few violets and went on their way.
Rosa kept walking for a while, keeping an eye out for more flowers. But before they could find any, Rosa came across a fat little robin, singing on a tree branch. “Good morning, mrs. Robin!” called Rosa. “Good morning, ma’am,” sang the robin. “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing very well, thank you, but I have to correct you- I’m not really a girl!”
“Terribly sorry, are you a boy, then?” asked the robin. “No, I’m not a boy either. I’m just me,” said Rosa. The robin fluttered down to the ground in front of them. “Not a boy or a girl? What do you mean by that?”
“Well, I’m somewhere inbetween, (in-between) I guess,” explained Rosa. “I’ve just never really felt like either of them.”
“Hm,” said the robin. “Whatever you say. You’ll probably figure it out someday.”
“Figure what out?” asked Rosa, confused. “Well, you’ll figure out whether you’re a girl or a boy! Everyone is one or another, you must just be a little mixed up.”
“Wait a minute, I’m not mixed up at all-” started Rosa, but the bird turned and flew away. “Good luck, ma’am,” she called as she flew.
By now, Rosa was very upset. Why was everyone being so rude to them? When they tried to explain themself, (themselves) people treated them like a child. Rosa thought briefly about turning back, but instead decided to keep walking for just a little longer. “Maybe I’ll meet a friend eventually,” they thought.
Sure enough, after a few more minutes, Rosa came across another animal- a tortoise- walking across the path. “Hi there, mr (this one doesn't have a period) Tortoise,” Rosa said. “Good morning, my dear girl.”
“Terribly sorry, mister, but I’m not a girl. Or a boy,” they added quickly, seeing the tortoise open his mouth to speak again. “Not a girl or a boy, hm?” he said, raising one eyebrow. “Well, (coma) what should I call you then?”
“Well, you could call me by my name,” Rosa said. “It’s Rosa. Or you could say ‘friend’ or ‘kid’ or-”
“Well, (coma) what about if I want to talk about you to someone else,” said the tortoise. “Do I call you ‘he’ or ‘she’?”
“Usually, people just say ‘they’ instead of either of those.”
“Hmph,” snorted the tortoise. “But if I said ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’, it would sound like I was talking about more than one person. That’s not proper English. I’ll just call you ‘she’. You look like a girl anyways.” And the tortoise turned and walked away.
Rosa walked back to the little yellow house, sad and hurt. By the time they walked inside, Iris was already awake, and was cooking breakfast on the stove inside. “Good morning, darling. Did you have a nice walk?”
“No, I didn’t have a nice walk at all,” Rosa said sadly, and explained everything that had happened. Iris saw how upset her sweetheart was, and gave them a big hug. “That’s not very nice at all,” she said. “It sounds like they wouldn’t even listen!”
Rosa and Iris spent the rest of the day together, as usual. Iris made Rosa pancakes with smiley faces on them for breakfast. She played Rosa lots of sweet songs on the guitar, and at lunch she made them macaroni and cheese, Rosa’s favorite. When it was dinnertime, Iris set out candles and flowers to make the meal romantic, and when night finally fell, she tucked Rosa in with extra blankets, and gave her a kiss on the nose.
But none of this seemed to cheer her sweetheart up at all. Iris was confused and worried, not liking to see her dear love feel this sad.
And then, in the middle of the night, Iris got an idea. She popped her head out of the window to look at the moon, hanging beautiful and bright in the sky. “Hello, Moon,” she called. “Hello, Iris,” said the moon. “Are you enjoying the night?”
“Yes, very much, thank you. Say, Moon, I was wondering if I could ask you a question.”
“Go right ahead,” said the moon.
“Are you a boy, or a girl,” asked Iris. “A boy or a girl? Why, I’m not either. I’m just me. Just the moon.” Iris’ heart leapt, and she leaned further out of the window to whisper something to the moon. She was certain that she had an idea that would work.

The next day, Rosa was still sad and upset, but Iris told them that she had something that would cheer them up. All they had to do was to wait until the moon came out that night.
And so, (coma) Rosa did, although she wasn’t really sure how it would help. Iris sat next to her in a chair beside the window, waiting. Before too long, forest animals began to scamper up to the window, and when enough of the little animals had gathered, the moon began to speak, in the soothing, sweet voice the animals loved so much.
“Who here knows who I am?” asked the moon. “We all do,” called the animals. “You’re the moon, of course!”
“That is correct,” said the moon. “Now, who here knows who the person sitting in that window is?” the animals looked over at Rosa. “I do!” called the tortoise. “That’s the one that told me she wasn’t a girl or a boy.” There was laughter across the crowd. “Not a boy or a girl? That doesn’t make any sense,” they all chuckled.
“Now, (coma) now,” said the moon, calmly. “Another question.” The crowd quieted. “Does anyone here know whether I am a girl or a boy?” Suddenly, the animals looked a tad uneasy. “Why, the moon is a girl, of course,” whispered some. “Just listen to her beautiful voice.”
“No,” said others, “The moon must be a boy. I think the moon looks rather like a boy, really.”
“Actually,” said the moon quietly, “I am not a girl or a boy. I am just the moon, and all of you love me as the moon.” The animals stared, confused. “Why, the moon is right!” they thought to themselves. “The moon has never been anything but the moon, but we love it all the same.”
“Now, (coma) do you understand why the things that you said to Rosa were hurtful?” asked the moon. “Only Rosa knows whether they are a boy or a girl, and if Rosa is neither, that’s alright, you see?” The animals were quiet at first, and then, slowly, the little robin hopped forwards out of the crowd, and fluttered to the windowsill where Rosa sat.
“Dear friend, I’m very sorry I was so rude to you,” said the bird, bowing her tiny head. “I guess I was the one who was confused after all.”
“I’m sorry too,” called the tortoise, stepping slowly forward. “Your comfort is more important than proper English, I suppose.”
“And I!” called the snail, climbing onto a leaf. “I suppose wearing dresses and skirts doesn’t have to make you a girl.”
Rosa was beaming with happiness. “I forgive you, friends,” they said. “And thank you, moon, for being so kind to me.”
And from that point forward, everyone in the forest lived happily and peacefully with one another. The animals were much more careful about listening and understanding, Rosa and Iris lived happily in their house together, and the moon shone bright above all of them, prouder than anything.