Gender and Sexuality

Women and LGB+ Characters in Society

Pernese society as a whole has progressed significantly since the days where women were not permitted into Crafthalls, or to Impress dragon colors other than gold. That doesn't mean, however, that all bigotry has ended.

Holds still put a great deal of stock in the idea of bloodlines: only a blooded heir can inherit the position of Lord or Lady Holder, after all. For the rest of Pern, there is some social mobility, especially for those possessing natural talent in the tech-crafts. But for everyone else, good breeding or a good marriage are the most straightforward paths to prosperity. This results in a great deal of lingering sexism and homophobia: when two daughters marry, what happens to the dowry? If the Lord Holder's son consorts with other men, where will the next heir come from? For the Pernese, it is not a matter of religion or morality so much as tradition and necessity. But the stigma remains the same.

Weyrs are considerably more lax on the matter, overall. Lineage is not a matter of concern in the Weyr: women have ready access to birth control, and the vast majority of rider children are raised communally in the creche, with few even knowing their birth parents to begin with. Holdbred types may bring their sexism and homophobia with them, but within the Weyrs, it's dragon color that sparks the prejudice. The ideal for a traditional Weyrfolk is a long-term weyrmated pair leading the Weyr: woman on gold, man on bronze. The introduction of new colors has expanded the opportunities for female riders, with reds being generally embraced as bronze-equivalents. But a red cannot produce eggs, and thus cannot be the future of the Weyr.

In the Weyr, the concept of "dragon decides, rider complies" was invented out of whole cloth by riders to protect same-sex weyrmates. A couple Passes ago, a pair of male riders - blue and green, respectively - panicked in the disapproving face of a visiting Lord Holder and blurted out "no, our dragons are weyrmated!" Since Holdfolk in general know little about the mating habits of dragons (and don't care to know more) this turned out to be a very efficient strategy. Unfortunately, it also had the side effect of spreading ridiculous rumors amongst the Hold… like the still-widespread belief that a man who Impresses green will spontaneously turn gay.

Transgender and Nonbinary Characters

The Pernese do not have words like "transgender" or "nonbinary" in common parlance. This does not mean that all characters are bigoted by necessity! Here is a great example of how characters in a pseudo-historical setting can discuss gender variance in a productive way, without using anachronistic language.

Overall, Pern is very much like our world, minus some of the modern terminology. The average weyr resident is probably pretty clueless, but willing to listen if approached with patience. Holdfolk are more conservative, and more likely to react with bigotry or violence when confronted with someone stepping "outside the box" when it comes to gender roles. Unfair as it is, transgender characters are safer overall if they can "pass" succcessfully. Nonbinary characters will almost certainly experience some degree of misgendering; neutral pronouns (zie/hir/etc.) are not yet part of the Pernese language, and use of singular "they" may be remarked upon.

Dragons, being telepathic, will in most cases instinctively pick up someone's correct pronouns simply by speaking to them. In many cases they may not even notice that the person they're speaking to is transgender unless told. (Humans aren't color-coded by gender the way dragons are, so unless a particular dragon is quite good at spotting secondary sex characteristics, they usually determine gender by mindfeel, not appearance.) This has gone a long way towards transgender acceptance in Weyr culture. The vast majority of Weyrfolk will have never met a trans person, and will easily confuse the issue with crossdressing, or simply not understand at all. But if a rider's dragon insists that a certain pronoun is correct, and all the other dragons agree, that carries weight.

Impressions

Sexual orientation has no bearing on Impression to any color. (We don't even ask for it on the app.) ICly speaking, characters may believe that it does. They are incorrect, but characters will never be restricted from having incorrect IC beliefs.

In regards to gender: certain colors of dragon have preferences for certain genders. Some colors have stronger preferences than others. As of the time of the game's beginning, male goldriders and female bronzeriders are vanishingly rare, because it's no fun to disrupt status quo if there is no status quo to begin with.

Binary transgender characters will Impress as their gender, not their assigned sex, because dragons are telepathic and determine gender based on how a mind "feels" to them. Nonbinary characters are a special case: both bronze and gold are considered cross-Impressions for a nonbinary character, but both are equally possible. On the other hand, certain future colors (no spoilers!) may have a preference for nonbinary riders.

In all cases, personality is more important than gender. Please do not make a character a specific gender or sexuality in hopes of "gaming the system" to get the color you want. Make the character, then ask for the color.

LGBT Dragons

Gay and bisexual dragons are uncommon but not absurdly rare. They occur in the dragon population at a slightly lower frequency that they occur in the human population; in other words, they're a minority, but there's probably a couple in any given Weyr. The presence of reds, yellows, and whites also lends a certain legitimacy to the whole thing. Riders understand that sometimes a pair of dragons who are romantically involved will go through the motions of Rising and Chasing, even if they don't have the "correct" respective parts. The only time this is discouraged is in the case of gold Flights, as golds are strongly encouraged to exclusively pick fertile male partners.

In regards to transgender dragons… Dragons have biological imperatives to reproduce. OOCly speaking, I (Rannoch, head admin) am extremely uncomfortable with the idea of putting a transmale clutching dragon through Flight and forced pregnancy. I don't want to run that kind of plot, I don't want to read that kind of plot, and since it's my site, it won't happen here. Likewise, I will not be giving out transgender dragon hatchlings, to minimize the risk of discomfort from players who don't want to be forced to play out dysphoria, misgendering, etc. as the result of a Hatching. If anyone has concerns about this ruling or wishes to discuss it further, my PM box is open.

ICly speaking, dragons are a completely alien species, with a radically different concept of gender based on color caste. Their rider partners more or less arbitrarily assign them male, female, or neuter pronouns based on whether they rise or chase.

Flightlust

Will not be a significant portion of our canon. Unfortunately Flightlust is one of those "this is why we can't have nice things" topics in the Pern fandom. I'm not interested in taking part in heated arguments about what is or is not hypothetically consensual when it comes to telepathic dragon-encouraged sex shenanigans. For our purposes, Flightlust heightens some sensations and reduces inhibitions, which results in a lot of riders taking advantage of their dragon's mating cycle to have fantastic sex with no strings attached. Within the Weyr, there is no stigma against casual Flightsex. But it is not required and no rider will participate in anything that they would not otherwise consent to.

Don't worry, there will still be plenty of opportunities for IC drama. And hey, think about it this way: in the real world, there are loads of ways to end up with an awkward morning-after scenario that don't involve psychic interference! This is not a blanket ban on sexy plots, just an attempt to sidestep OOC drama.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License