Inshadowsidream

How to avoid giving away gender?

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A friend of mine decided to try her hand at writing and asked me a question I couldn't answer. If you don't want the gender of a character to give clues as to their identy, how do you go about hiding it? Her protagonist is being helped by an unknown person, a person with fair hair. All her character sees is this person from the back, and since they wears baggy clothes, the gender isn't clear. 

If she types "blonde" it gives away the gender, if she uses "blond" it misleads the reader into believing it is a male helping out, which would later be discovered to be a lie. She wants to keep the reader guessing, but with the gender specific spellings, that is proving impossible. After reading what she has written so far, I agree, using "fair haired person" or a variance, is awkward in many of the situations.

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She could go with an establishing narration that the gender is unclear, followed by constructions like “The blond\e” or “s\he ran”, or just have the original fair haired thing and then after that go for non gendered descriptors like “stranger” or “helper” or “helpful stranger” similar.

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6 hours ago, JayDee said:

She could go with an establishing narration that the gender is unclear, followed by constructions like “The blond\e” or “s\he ran”, or just have the original fair haired thing and then after that go for non gendered descriptors like “stranger” or “helper” or “helpful stranger” similar.

Yes. This is one of the best ways.

They/Them could work. You don’t want to use the word “it” . Cause it a dehumanizing in a sense but also the least informative word to give. Unless the character isn't human at all.

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There are genderless nouns that could be used in place of a name if the name is unknown. “The stranger”, “The figure”, or for example, using a nickname, like if she described them as ghostlike, then calling them the ‘phantom’, or something more in line with the narrator’s personality. 

Sorry, I’m sticking my nose in late to the convo but I do love to hear myself type! :cheers:

Edited by CloverReef

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