August 23, 2015

In Which Teodrin Gets the Facts

February 6, 1194

"Let me guess: you're looking for Deian."

Was he? Deian was the most well-known of the forest-dwellers, and perhaps the one Teodrin had most expected to find. But, he'd known that Deian hadn't been the only one.

"Uh... I guess it didn't have to be him specifically."

"Good. I'm Ylwa--and I'm here because I get the sense that you don't want to be fucked with, which is what Deian does. I'll be honest with you, but not everybody likes that. Not everybody wants to hear the truth."

Teodrin swayed, pawing at the snow with the toe of his foot. He was twenty years old. He would be graduating from the university in June. He was desperate enough to seek the help of unstable humanoid cannibals where human doctors had failed. "I don't care if I like it. I need to know."

"All right, then. What seems to be the problem?"

"It's, uh..." Shit. Even to a feared creature in the heart of the forest, it hurt to say it. "...reproductive bits. They're stuck somewhere--up, somewhere."

"At your age?" Ylwa frowned--not a human frown of sympathy, but at least she didn't seem to find it humorous as he'd feared. Then again, she'd said she didn't care to fuck with him. "Hmm. Not sure what I can say about that. Mind if I... take a look?"


"Relax. I can sense the vibrations in your body with my hands. You don't have to take your clothes off--so I still pity you humans, not being able to keep warm without those wretched things."

"So... you'll just touch me, then?" He'd never much liked the idea of a naked woman touching him, but Ylwa, he could tell, had no more sexual interest in him than his cat did.

"Do you mind?" He shrugged. She placed her hands just above his pelvis and worked her way upward. "Hmm... nothing yet..."

Upward. Further out. "No... no. Oh!" Teodrin's heart skipped. But, it was premature. "No, too big. Hmm..."

She bit her lip, fingers drumming on his abdomen. Then--a light of inspiration in her eye, she drew her hands inward. "That's it!"

"What's it?"

"Well..." Ylwa stepped back and inhaled, eyes shut in mingled tact and exasperation. "Look, you humans have this unusual obsession with binary categories, so I don't know how well you're going to take this. I'm still not going to lie to you, but if you'd rather not know, here's your chance to walk away."

If she put it like that, then he was doomed to spend the rest of his life worrying even more. "I can't not know anymore."

"All right, then." She pursed her lips and looked him in the eye--at least, from what he could tell, given her lack of pupils. "I'm not really sure how to say this, but something must have gone wrong while you were growing inside your mother. Some sort of chemical imbalance in her womb, maybe. You, uh... you were supposed to be a girl."

"What?!" The FUCK?! "But I--what--I have--I mean, I'd know if--I've got--"

"A penis, yes. You've also got ovaries and a uterus. They're not of any use to you without a vagina, but that doesn't change the fact that they're there."

"Well, can you... get rid of them?" She had magic! "Switch them out for other things?"

"I could." She crossed her arms. "But I won't."

WHAT. "You have to! I can't live like this!"

"Yes, you can. There's nothing wrong with you." He doubted he'd find a single person who agreed with that statement. "Look, it's your body, and I have no qualms about helping you do what you want with it. But, you need time to think about this. I don't want to turn your ovaries into testicles just for you to come and bother me again in a year because you've realized you're not a man after all."

"But I AM a man!" He had to be! He couldn't be... nothing.

"Maybe. Gender isn't determined by parts, you know. It's in your soul, or at least the current state of it. And it's not limited to male and female. Maybe one day, you humans will understand that."

"But they don't! No one does!"

"The sad truth of your world. Maybe you would be happier with a man's anatomy--or a woman's. Or maybe you'll decide that you're fine with your body as it is. The important thing is, now you can make an informed decision. Now, run along and take the time to make it."


"Don't even. I'm not going to fill your scrotum just because the world has you believing it needs to be filled. Take a few months. Think about it. Finish your studies, graduate, figure out who you are and what you want from your body. Then, if you want me to make any adjustments--" Ylwa turned around and began to walk away. "--let me know. And don't think I won't be able to tell if you don't truly want it."



Van said...

Back. Clearly. XD

Winter said...

Welcome back :)

Teodrin did have a stroke of luck running into Ylwa. Deian would have made this ten times worse on him for his own enjoyment. (I like Deian, but I like him better with a worthy opponent. Teodrin's not there yet.)

It'll be interesting to see if Teodrin decides against having Ylwa 'fix' him. Knowing that there might be a way to at least pass for normal could just be too much to resist. He's been different for so long, and that's tough. Going full male really is the only way he can just blend in with everyone else, unless he goes somewhere else to start over. I would probably want to be made 'normal' if I was him, honestly, so I'm looking forward to see what he decides.

Van said...

Thank you!

Yeah, Teodrin definitely got the better of the two of them for this situation. Deian would have torn him to pieces over this. Though, luckily, Deian prefers a worthy opponent too; he probably would have grown bored of Teodrin quickly.

Teodrin's going to have to think for at least a few months before Ylwa indulges him with her presence again. With the Medieval European humans' limited understanding of intersexuality (hell, a lot of people still struggle with the concept today), going for the fully "male" anatomy is the easy option. Teodrin is timid and socially awkward enough without being "different", and he's tired of it. But, some soul searching could reveal that he's not actually a man in his soul, or at least not fully.

We shall see...

Joseph said...

Read this chapter by chance.

With all this attention on transgender issues now, I found it really interesting to see the Naronian take on it. I both agree and disagree with Ylwa. Physically there's not a lot wrong with Teodrin apart from the uterus and ovaries randomly being in his body (and him being infertile, I guess? I'm just jumping in here).

Where I disagree is that it's Teodrin's choice how he defines himself. Maybe he wants to stay a man and just wants the lady bits out of his body. Or maybe he's happier as a woman (and I'm wondering whether the... creatures, Naron? (god it's been too long!) would be able to help him in that regard, if not Ylwa herself). Or hell maybe he'll be like fuck the labels, I'll live how I want to live and I'll define myself how I want to define myself and everyone else can just get with the program. I'm kinda hoping for the third option myself (since I'm one of those people who doesn't believe people should be defined by stuff like gender) but either three make for good stories.

One of my favourite things I'm finding jumping in is that you're much more comfortable now using Naroni as a social commentary on today's issues and I really like that. It's good to see medieval characters dealing with stuff that in reality would be way ahead of their time because it allows us (the reader) to approach these issues in a different way. You should be applauded for that.

Van said...

There's definitely nothing wrong with Teodrin's body being the way it is. He would be infertile--he's not producing any sperm, and on the off-chance his eggs are viable, there's no way of reaching them without modern technology--but since Teodrin hasn't really shown much romantic/sexual interest in anyone yet, that's the least of his concerns at the moment.

It's definitely up to Teodrin, how he defines himself. Problem is, he has almost no concept of intersex to work with here. Maybe big brother Severin came across a few cases during his studies, but I doubt Teodrin wants to share this new information with anyone else just yet (plus he has sort of a fear/revere thing going on with Severin that wouldn't make him the best candidate for a confidante there). He's been told all his life that he's male and has just assumed that he has to go along with that. Now, he has to figure out whether or not that's really who he is. Many people in his situation probably know innately from the get-go, but I would guess that just as many need time to process and sort things out, and both are okay.

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying that aspect.

Ekho said...

Question, what would Deian have done/said?
Also, at the start of the chapter I was reminded of an article on Facebook not long ago - about a rare genetic disorder in which children appear as female until they hit puberty and suddenly start growing male genitalia.
I honestly find it fascinating how we all start off female in the womb.. Until the Y chromosome kicks in for males anyway. I'm curious if Teodrin developed the uterus and ovaries because his Y chromosome was too slow, or whether he is genetically a she, with an enlarged or malformed clitoris.

Van said...

Deian wouldn't have given the time to think it over, at the very least. I'm sure that performing out-of-the-blue sex changes without giving the person any chance to think or prepare is fun for him.

Yeah, there are a lot of different intersex conditions! Just goes to show that sex/gender isn't the binary that most of the world thinks it is, even if they're going with the "biology" argument. As for Teo, he's XX; I'm thinking it's this condition.