Meet the Iconics: Shardra Geltl

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today we introduce the next of the new iconic characters from the Advanced Class Guide: Shardra the shaman. Shardra will also be a playable character in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous set due for release in February 2015.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

It's a sorry lot for a proud dwarven daughter to be raised a miserable dwarven son, but everyone receives one lot in life, and Shardra Geltl never knew to expect better. Childhood was kind, her sisters loved her, her brother protected her, and always she had the whispers of tools and books to keep her company. Adolescence, though, came bearing heavy burdens. Her siblings moved on with their own lives, replaced by harsh teachers and taskmasters. She weathered a staggeringly awkward first kiss as her childhood best friend grew into a handsome lad, followed by a painful arranged engagement to a lovely girl from the neighboring Dechl clan. But the mines and refinery of Xolgrit fed the war machine of Rolgrimmdur far above, and militant efficiency demanded all citizen-soldiers accept and excel in their roles, no matter how miserable.

But Shardra still had the whispers to keep her company on lonely nights.

Books quipped bits and pieces of their tales, bowls jabbered gossip shared over breakfast, and picks stammered the poems of the rocks they clove. And while the odds and ends of Xolgrit kept her company, the stones of the Old Road, carved long ago by dwarves still hunting for the sky, sang legends. More and more often, the shy dwarf slipped away to wander the crumbling paths, learning the deeds of her ancestors away from the clamor of duty and expectation. She assumed the whispers were her friends, there to keep her safe and offer respite from the dull ache of life. Then one "trustworthy" stone crumbled beneath her feet, dropping her into darkness.

The fall was short. Her arm met stone with a wet crunch, but the ache from the shattered bone faded away as the whispers rose in deafening song. All around stretched an ancient cavern. Hot springs bubbled across its floor, while mosaics and beaten gold masks decorated the walls. Mundane beasts and fantastic creatures wandered past, unperturbed by her presence.

A single tuatara waddled forward as she cradled her limb. It borrowed a tongue from the whispers and spoke. "What are you?"

"I—" She opened her mouth to speak, borrowing too from those old, quiet chants. And although the whispers had a word for all things in creation, they had no words for the expectations of others. "I don't know."

From that day on, the whispers poured themselves through Shardra's reptilian friend, speaking louder and more clearly with a mouth to form the words. She soon named the creature Kolo—an old dwarven word for the beauty in everyday things—and told Kolo of Xolgrit and Rolgrimmdur, and of the beauty of the stars in the night sky, and how to tell past and present and future apart. And Kolo taught her how to speak to spirits and borrow their favor to mend her broken bones, and of dwarven faith from long before they mingled their worship with the deities of the surface world. It taught her how to glean deeper secrets from the artifacts of the dead, and how to greet the Ladies of Crag and Ember—powerful elementals who laid claim to the hot springs and the surrounding tunnels. Most precious of all, Kolo taught her of the rivethun—dwarves who drew great power by embracing the disjunction between their bodies and souls—and she learned to brew the alchemical tinctures her past sisters used to quiet the rages of adolescence and bring their minds and bodies into harmony.

As Shardra's mystical skills and budding femininity began to show, her parents lamented their loss of a son and the addition of yet another dowry. Their irritation changed to joy as their daughter's dealings with the spirit world guided Xolgrit's miners to rich new veins of ore and long-lost treasure troves. The Geltl clan's fortunes reversed as Shardra's confidence, skills, and womanhood blossomed, and eventually clans from Xolgrit and beyond offered handsome brideprices.

Shardra's gifts attracted more than suitors, however. Lonely spirits and treasure hunters alike came to Xolgrit hoping to profit by the young shaman's insight. Neither settled peacefully into the community's rigid order. The string of lootings, possessions, drunken brawls, hauntings, and soured beer drew the attention of Rolgrimmdur, and the city-state dispatched a squad of soldiers—under the command of Captain Itcel Dechl—to put down the ragtag mercenary gangs squatting in town. Shardra herself turned her magic on its source, driving the spirit invaders back to the hot spring and demanding the Ladies of Crag and Ember keep their subjects under control.

Unsatisfied by her easy victory over a band of drunken thugs and grave robbers, Captain Dechl and her soldiers traced Shardra's path through the Old Roads, and eventually claimed the sacred shrine (and the wealth covering its walls) as a cultural treasure for Rolgrimmdur. The elemental Ladies raged at the presumption, swearing in turn to reduce Xolgrit to rubble. Both sides declared the dwarf maiden a traitor and cast her aside as they charged into battle. Shardra lashed out, seizing control of an earth elemental and using its might to collapse the ancient shrine.

With nothing left to fight over, the opposing armies fled.

Lacking any evidence of Shardra's actions but burning with frustration, Dechl used what remained of her authority to accuse the spirit-talker of heresy. Although friends and family staunchly defended her innocence, Shardra took the allegations as a chance to act on plans that had grown increasingly tempting. She left Xolgrit and her tutors, childhood friends, and family by paths only the stones remembered. Shardra reached the surface a guarded but curious woman, more interested in stories of the long dead than the bickering of the living. With Kolo the crag tuatara at her shoulder, Shardra now wanders the world, uncovering lost treasure and listening to the tales it has to tell. Permanent ties still chafe, even ones as shallow as a favor owed or an unpaid tavern bill, but her heart softens toward any who wander. Despite her love of the world's vast mysteries, a small part of the shaman yearns for the joy and companionship she once felt with her sisters, and Shardra corresponds with her family often, ever watchful for any discovery that might provide an excuse to write or visit her distant, glittering home.

Crystal Frasier
Contributor

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Liberty's Edge Contributor

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I'm... not actually even sure what you're trying to say/ask here

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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@ DCU: If you haven't read through the discussion, I suggest you do so. Maybe not all 650 posts, as it's grown quite large, but some of the earlier posts are pretty close to your questions. Other than that, I'll say a couple of things:
-I'm not sure what you mean by "sexual beliefs and practices," but gender identity is not the same as sexuality
-The claims of "greatest iconic" are (understandably) subjective. What makes Shardra so great and important to many people here is to see an iconic that is a positively portrayed trans woman. Media representation of trans individuals is rare, and to see one that isn't a joke or a villain or a mere plot point is incredibly important to a lot of people.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber
DCU wrote:
Are we celebrating the character merely on grounds of their sexual beliefs and practices, or because of an appreciation for a fuller fleshed character that has to do with courage in the face of lies, greed, and fear?

I think it has something to do with being able to relate that to the real world. Being a noble, self-sacrificing warrior or priest in a fantasy world is nice, but at least a world away. A change in gender identity is possible in the real world and takes real courage, and goes way deeper than just "sexual beliefs and practices". Imagine a person changing, say, her ethnic group (if such thing was possible), which is pretty much a part of her identity. This kind of change is what this is about - one central part of a human identity (in the real world) is fundamentally changed, at least to the outside view. Translating this into a gaming environment without getting cheesy about it (like the infamous girdle mentioned above) is no small task, and is done admirably here.

I mentioned a transgender member of our city council in my post above. She changed her gender identity while holding that office a few years back. I can only imagine just how big her need for change must have been, and think that this needs a ton of courage to live through that. I think what makes people uncomfortable about that is that ones identity is not easily changed, and seeing a person with a changed identity (or with a more fluid one) implies a question about our own identity. Furthermore, usually you only see the result, but are, of course, not involved in the process. And the result irritates people a lot.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Yeah, we haven't really talked about the iconic's sex life or preferences at all.


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DCU wrote:
I'm not sure how "biologically male" is "wibbly-wobbly, as regardless of appearance, she actually IS something genetically specific

You should study up then. It's a very common misconception that at least some combination of your chromosomes, brain structure, below the belt region, and tertiary sexual characteristics (body hair and such), and gender identity are innately tied together by some ironclad property of nature or something but... they aren't. It is absolutely possible, for instance, to have that manly XY chromosome pair going on, but come out looking like a girl by any standard you can observe beyond actually looking at those chromosomes. Just, while you're in the womb, the requests for those sex-trait expressing hormones that should be coming from your DNA get ignored, and the mother's body goes "eh, screw it, have a big estrogen bath instead."

Even weirder stuff than that can happen too! Check out this cardinal for instance!

That there is a bird where, due to a rare developmental issue, is male on the left half, female on the right (well, from the bird's perspective, your right and left respectively looking at it). Basically, at one point, there was going to be a set of fraternal twins here (one male, one female), but very early on the zygotes just kinda got stuck together, and developed like this.

It totally can happen with humans too, but you don't get such a dramatic look, because again, our genes are seriously outvoted by hormone baths in the womb.

So yeah, "biologically male" can totally be ubiquitous, totally depends which of the many biological factors generally associated with maleness you're going by, all of which are biological in nature, really.

DCU wrote:
It seems that she actually IS female, but had the unfortunate circumstance of being born with a deformity that made this unclear,

That's not the most flattering way of putting it, but it's not the worst way to look at what being trans means.

It is worth noting though that it's not strictly an appearance issue, there's also this big factor of how one's brain is structured, what ratio of various hormones are at play in keeping it operating properly, and what ratio one's body is set up to produce. Doesn't necessarily apply in every case (again, it's not a field where you get simple clear-cut answers when you really look into it), but correcting that sort of crazy hormone imbalance is a way bigger issue than anything cosmetic for a fairly large number of people.

DCU wrote:
Are we celebrating the character merely on grounds of their sexual beliefs and practices, or because of an appreciation for a fuller fleshed character that has to do with courage in the face of lies, greed, and fear?

Personally, I dig it because it's a well fleshed out story which touches on both a brush with death, and being trans, both of which are totally things that lead to one being identified as a shaman in various cultures. I'm not really sure where you're getting "sexual beliefs and practices" from though, because as far as her sex life goes, all that's really mentioned is an awkward first kiss, and an arranged marriage that didn't pan out, neither of which say anything particularly strong beyond her probably not really being into those two particular people, for whatever reason.

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Googleshng wrote:
Even weirder stuff than that can happen too! Check out this cardinal for instance!

Side note: Found my IRL familiar!


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Googleshng wrote:
Even weirder stuff than that can happen too! Check out this cardinal for instance!
Side note: Found my IRL familiar!

Would certainly match the avatar you have :p


I'll admit to being one of the people who didn't fully pick up on the trans* aspect of Shardra's story until I read the discussion. That said, let me add my kudos to the growing pile.

Anyway, here's a question: what is Shardra's favorite spell. If she could only ever cast one spell, what would it be?


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Googleshng wrote:
Check out this cardinal for instance!

If this bird doesn't flip a two-headed coin, I will be very sad.


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Ventnor wrote:

I'll admit to being one of the people who didn't fully pick up on the trans* aspect of Shardra's story until I read the discussion. That said, let me add my kudos to the growing pile.

Anyway, here's a question: what is Shardra's favorite spell. If she could only ever cast one spell, what would it be?

Detect Animals or Plants. I have always had difficulty discerning between the two, and it's embarrassing to ask.

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DCU wrote:
Is it possible to have a different take here? Or is a different view not to be "tolerated"?

Depends on the view. The view that 'women are stupider than men and should not be allowed education' is terrible, and shouldn't be tolerated. For example.

DCU wrote:
So we have a tragic story about parents (or the representative nursemaids) who allowed her to grow up a very confused person.

She...doesn't seem particularly confused per se. She does seem to have been at one point, but she figured it out.

DCU wrote:
It seems that she actually IS female, but had the unfortunate circumstance of being born with a deformity that made this unclear, or else her parents had the poor judgment of demanding the actual girl be something she actually genetically was not. Regardless of what they believed, or how she self-identified at any point, she actually IS what she was born. Belief does not make a thing so any more than belief that 2+2=22 makes that so.

Firstly, there's actually a fair bit of medical evidence that there are serious and legitimate brain differences between transgender people and cisgender ones, with a transwoman having a brain structure closer to a cisgender woman's than to a cisgender man's. So...that's not just belief, there, that's their brain being definitively their true gender.

Secondly, what's wrong with believing yourself to be something that isn't immediately obvious? Some people believe (in real life, mind you) that they're the reincarnation of a famous person. Maybe they're even right, but in the end it doesn't matter. If that belief makes them feel more whole, happier, and leads to good things, where's the harm, and what's the point of contradicting them? Indeed, I could make the same argument about religion, given that there's an equal lack of proof. Now personally I wouldn't argue that, being deeply religious, but it's a reasonable argument from the perspective you're arguing from.

DCU wrote:
We have a character warped by her circumstances to not really know who she was because she actually is a SHE but was told to behave like a HE. I'm not sure how "biologically male" is "wibbly-wobbly, as regardless of appearance, she actually IS something genetically specific even if she and everyone else is confused. This is far more of a problem in a post-modern relativist worldview than I would expect to find in the pre-industrial societies that are the inspiration for Pathfinder.

Uh...have you done an research on actual shamanic practices? Two-spirit people were a real thing, and very often shamans. Similar things crop up in a variety of cultures. Calling something 'transgender' is indeed postmodern (though I'm not sure if relativism is relevant)...which would be why the actual story never does that. The idea of gender fluidity, on the other hand, is nothing new.

DCU wrote:
I think it worth questioning, though, is this character is being held up as the "Greatest of Iconics", because of the content of her character (courageously facing down mercenaries who sought to take what was not due them), or because she is ACTUALLY a genetic woman who took the truth of that regardless of her previous confusion about being a boy or her parent's confusion or warped lie about what she was?

Well, given that she gets along with her parents, changing things so that they actually lied to her makes her much more of a doormat and denies a lot of her heroism. Also, per the author, that's not what happened.

And she's the 'Greatest of the Iconics' according to her author. So...not necessarily for any one reason. ;)

DCU wrote:
Or is it for no other reason than that she is "trans" which can be whatever you want it to be?

That's not precisely true. Especially in this case, since we know who and what she is: A woman who was mistaken as male by her parents and raised as such for a while, and who needed an alchemical elixir to get her hormones working right.

DCU wrote:
IS there a difference between fantasies about characters who are actually strong or smart or quick using those talents to confront monsters and fantasies based on trying to bury the truth of one's identity beneath a preferential belief?

This sentence has nothing to do with Shardra.

DCU wrote:
Why would this character be upheld as any greater an Iconic than Harsk, or Kyra, or Sajan who are all following noble, self-sacrificing paths?

Uh...Sajan and Harsk are LN, and both paths only 'selfless' in the sense that they involve close family being placed above personal concerns. That's a lot less 'noble and self sacrificing' than Shardra is portrayed as.

So...I don't really know what you're getting at here.

DCU wrote:
Are we celebrating the character merely on grounds of their sexual beliefs and practices, or because of an appreciation for a fuller fleshed character that has to do with courage in the face of lies, greed, and fear?

As others have noted...being trans* is in fact not a sexual belief or practice. That said, we're mostly doing the latter, with a side helping of 'it's nice to see minorities represented' the same way there was when Seelah (a black woman and Paladin) was first shown.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
Googleshng wrote:
Even weirder stuff than that can happen too! Check out this cardinal for instance!
Side note: Found my IRL familiar!

I don't know, you'd probably need a really permissive GM to get a chromosomal chimera (which is the actual term, how great is that?) or "chimerism" if you want to do an image search for really amazing looking animals... plus the occasional human with stripes, it's not always a line down the middle like that.

Again, biology does all kinds of really surprising things you have to do a lot of research before you hear about.

Silver Crusade

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
And she's the 'Greatest of the Iconics' according to her author. So...not necessarily for any one reason. ;)

It's the Tuatara.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
stuff

And the tuatara is awesome!

Edit:

Ninja'd by Rysky


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Googleshng wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Googleshng wrote:
Even weirder stuff than that can happen too! Check out this cardinal for instance!
Side note: Found my IRL familiar!

I don't know, you'd probably need a really permissive GM to get a chromosomal chimera (which is the actual term, how great is that?) or "chimerism" if you want to do an image search for really amazing looking animals... plus the occasional human with stripes, it's not always a line down the middle like that.

Again, biology does all kinds of really surprising things you have to do a lot of research before you hear about.

I agree with this post completely (other than a little issue with biology being a study of living things and not the things themselves...)

Also the whole reason for this post:
Merow
Who's a pretty kitty?

Liberty's Edge

Rysky wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
And she's the 'Greatest of the Iconics' according to her author. So...not necessarily for any one reason. ;)
It's the Tuatara.

Yeah, okay. I'll accept that as an explanation. :)


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DCU wrote:
Regardless of what they believed, or how she self-identified at any point, she actually IS what she was born. Belief does not make a thing so any more than belief that 2+2=22 makes that so.

According to the best current evidence, a transwoman is born neurobiologically female with male external anatomy, eg, her brain is formed in an initial hormonal cascade in fetu and was on track for female development when there was an interruption that caused a separate hormonal cascade shaping the external anatomy. It's biology, not belief.

So yes, you're right - she was what she was born, which is to say with a female brain. Unless you are willing to say that a quadriplegic is not really human because they don't have a human shaped body, it is not medically reasonable or humane to state that a transwoman is really male because of her initial body development.

Quote:
Are we celebrating the character merely on grounds of their sexual beliefs and practices, or because of an appreciation for a fuller fleshed character that has to do with courage in the face of lies, greed, and fear?

Please do not conflate gender with sexual orientation or beliefs. It is not any of these things.

I think she's a very good character *as a character* and as an example of good storytelling with lots of excellent plot hooks, most of which have nothing to do with her gender.


I Do have some problems as to the explanation of being vague about how our "modern sensibilities" would describe her gender. I imagine that depending on who you ask in Golarion some people would have argued over semantics, and came up with answers. As I cannot imagine an android character ever being satisfied with the lets not spell things out argument. And I might imagine that someone and her who might find one another appealing would want an explanation as well. otherwise the whole preference idea behind sexuality becomes rather void, which I feel undermines a very important part of a persons identity.

Other then that I do really like the backstory itself. And the origin of her coming to her powers was very well implemented in adition to the believability as a trans. It luckily, (UNLIKE THE IMPRESSION THAT WAS MADE IN THE MIGHTY MEEP INTERVIEW) didn't give me the impression it was being more inclusive for inclusivity's sake. so many props and kudo's for that.


Googleshng wrote:
So yeah, "biologically male" can totally be ubiquitous, totally depends which of the many biological factors generally associated with maleness you're going by, all of which are biological in nature, really.

I think the point that was being made was not "gender is a black and white issue" but more of; "In the end biology has created a term for every phenomenon under the horizon, So what's the name of this one" In science the line is drawn somewhere. and frankly I don't blame people for wanting to know that line, regardless of their opinion on the subject. Those kind of boundaries are a big part of what it means to be a person, and to know ones boundries is to know that person. Being vague about it is only acceptable to avoid prejudice or to hide shame. And I would've hoped (and from what I've seen in this section it has) that this community would be over both of those things by now.

Project Manager

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DCU wrote:
Are we celebrating the character merely on grounds of their sexual beliefs and practices, or because of an appreciation for a fuller fleshed character that has to do with courage in the face of lies, greed, and fear?

False dichotomy.

Liberty's Edge

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Diekssus wrote:
I Do have some problems as to the explanation of being vague about how our "modern sensibilities" would describe her gender. I imagine that depending on who you ask in Golarion some people would have argued over semantics, and came up with answers. As I cannot imagine an android character ever being satisfied with the lets not spell things out argument. And I might imagine that someone and her who might find one another appealing would want an explanation as well. otherwise the whole preference idea behind sexuality becomes rather void, which I feel undermines a very important part of a persons identity.

Huh? It's really pretty clear. She was born male-bodied, and eventually (after realizing she was trans* or rivethun, or whatever term you wish to use) used an alchemical version of hormone therapy to correct the hormonal issues. There's...really not another good way to interpret the end of the seventh paragraph.

Diekssus wrote:
Other then that I do really like the backstory itself. And the origin of her coming to her powers was very well implemented in adition to the believability as a trans. It luckily, (UNLIKE THE IMPRESSION THAT WAS MADE IN THE MIGHTY MEEP INTERVIEW) didn't give me the impression it was being more inclusive for inclusivity's sake. so many props and kudo's for that.

What's wrong with inclusion for inclusion's sake?

Diekssus wrote:
Googleshng wrote:
So yeah, "biologically male" can totally be ubiquitous, totally depends which of the many biological factors generally associated with maleness you're going by, all of which are biological in nature, really.
I think the point that was being made was not "gender is a black and white issue" but more of; "In the end biology has created a term for every phenomenon under the horizon, So what's the name of this one" In science the line is drawn somewhere. and frankly I don't blame people for wanting to know that line, regardless of their opinion on the subject. Those kind of boundaries are a big part of what it means to be a person, and to know ones boundries is to know that person. Being vague about it is only acceptable to avoid prejudice or to hide shame. And I would've hoped (and from what I've seen in this section it has) that this community would be over both of those things by now.

Uh...the idea of two genders, of which you are always one or the other, isn't really biologically sound. It's more of a continuum than a binary choice, as are most things involving human beings. We try and put everything in these neat little boxes, but that's not how life (or science) actually works. And many cultures have acknowledged this to a much greater degree than our current one does.

And asking for the use scientific terminology in an article about a fantasy race that is sufficiently different from human beings that the two can't even interbreed is sorta a weird demand to make.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Diekssus wrote:
Googleshng wrote:
So yeah, "biologically male" can totally be ubiquitous, totally depends which of the many biological factors generally associated with maleness you're going by, all of which are biological in nature, really.
I think the point that was being made was not "gender is a black and white issue" but more of; "In the end biology has created a term for every phenomenon under the horizon, So what's the name of this one" In science the line is drawn somewhere. and frankly I don't blame people for wanting to know that line, regardless of their opinion on the subject. Those kind of boundaries are a big part of what it means to be a person, and to know ones boundries is to know that person. Being vague about it is only acceptable to avoid prejudice or to hide shame. And I would've hoped (and from what I've seen in this section it has) that this community would be over both of those things by now.

Uh...the idea of two genders, of which you are always one or the other, isn't really biologically sound. It's more of a continuum than a binary choice, as are most things involving human beings. We try and put everything in these neat little boxes, but that's not how life (or science) actually works. And many cultures have acknowledged this to a much greater degree than our current one does.

And asking for the use scientific terminology in an article about a fantasy race that is sufficiently different from human beings that the two can't even interbreed is sorta a weird demand to make.

The real important thing to keep in mind when it comes to sex/gender related matters is, it is exceptions all the way down. 99% of the time, give or take, you're either male or female across the board, but within that 1% exception... it's just exceptions all the way down. This here for instance:

TanithT wrote:
According to the best current evidence, a transwoman is born neurobiologically female with male external anatomy, eg, her brain is formed in an initial hormonal cascade in fetu and was on track for female development when there was an interruption that caused a separate hormonal cascade shaping the external anatomy. It's biology, not belief.

This needs a usually or two thrown in. While true to my understanding in the vast majority of cases, there do, I'm told, exist people who identify with a gender not matching the sex they were assigned at birth, but whose brain structure matches their assigned sex, and thus for whom the traditional hormone replacement thing, in particular, does not have a beneficial effect on their brain chemistry. Granted, that's just something like 1% of the 1% of the 1% of the population has to deal with. For the other 99% of the 1% of the 1% of the population though, yeah, that's how it tends to go, yes.

So when it comes to this here...

Diekssus wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Uh...the idea of two genders, of which you are always one or the other, isn't really biologically sound. It's more of a continuum than a binary choice, as are most things involving human beings. We try and put everything in these neat little boxes, but that's not how life (or science) actually works.
This takes away nothing of what I mentioned in my posts, the fact you think it is actually shows the problem here. Science does draw the line somewhere and makes definitions, if you are under the assumption that means dichotomy then that is your error and I would still like a relevant answer to it.

Science doesn't actually always do that. It's generally the goal, but we frequently run into cases where it seems like we have a topic fully figured out, then someone makes a new discovery, it turns out things are way more complicated than first thought, and there's a big scramble to study things more carefully and reorganize and re-categorize to compensate.

Take sub-atomic particles for instance. For the longest time, people thought they had everything pegged down. You've got protons, neutrons, and electrons, and they act like this, and tada, that covers all the properties of matter... oh well except light... there's a particle for that too... and hey, are these other things made of something else? And then it turns out there's quarks in the mix, and they're so weird we're at a point where someone just said "uh... they come in 6 different flavors. There's... up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top." So suddenly that turns out to be this whole confusing mess we're still generally trying to get a handle on.

In this case, people used to think, up until really not that long ago, that being trans was some sort of mental disorder... and I mean REALLY not that long ago. The first country to officially take it off the books only did so 4 years ago. So there's a lot of classification and sub-classification actively being done, terminology still changing, and areas that could use more research, and we are not at a point where all the lines can be properly and definitively be drawn, if indeed it isn't really a case where "no seriously, it's a spectrum."

And it doesn't really help that the vast majority of the population has absolutely no education on the subject whatsoever, and people have an alarming tendency to react violently to things they have no understanding of, so the already small percentage of the population which is trans is not especially keen on stepping out from the crowd to help with the gathering of data.

All THAT being said...

Diekssus wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Huh? It's really pretty clear. She was born male-bodied, and eventually (after realizing she was trans*) used an alchemical version of hormone therapy to correct the hormonal issues. There's...really not another good way to interpret the end of the seventh paragraph.
If you've been reading the entire 10 pages of posts here you should've already know its not that clear-cut. and I would like it to be.

The most typical experience for a transwoman is something that's sufficiently well documented and research to say a fair deal about, has a nice scientific backing, and totally fits in with everything said about Shardra here, both officially in the blurb, and in clarifications in the ensuing discussion. She was assigned male at birth which means among other things, yes, born with a penis, and more importantly, with a physiology inclined to crank out more testosterone than estrogens, but with a female brain structure (so she's always been a woman where it really counts), and right around the start of puberty, she got all this well enough worked out to start in on (the fantasy equivalent of) hormone replacement therapy, to get all those hormones produced in the proper ratio for healthy brain function, which on the side also correctly manages all that hair growth/fat distribution/voice altering business which generally clears up any confusion. Basically setting every single flag you can look at to "woman" except for the relatively inconsequential one of what things look like below the belt, which is intentionally left ambiguous, as it tends to be in real life, largely because everyone who either is trans or has a bunch of friends who are are really really sick of the common misconception that that's the most important aspect of the whole thing, and tend to set up a fair number of laws and social stigmas based on whether people are willing to undergo life-threatening cosmetic surgery, primarily if not entirely for the sake of limited social acceptance.

A lot of people have alternative interpretations of what the story is here, primarily because there is a serious lack of any education on the subject, and if you don't have the faintest idea what it's like to be a transwoman, any story about it is likely to fly completely over your head. But again, clarification from the original source has been provided, so, there you go.


Googleshng wrote:
She was assigned male at birth which means among other things, yes, born with a penis, and more importantly, with a physiology inclined to crank out more testosterone than estrogens, but with a female brain structure (so she's always been a woman where it really counts

Frankly, your post is rather long, and as mentiond earlier, I lack time, however the quote above stood out, A reason I mentioned a lacking of possibilities is exactly that. It was never mentioned in the story that she was born with manbits, this is a reasonable assumption, however it denies the possibility of being born with both. Not that I believe this to be the case, however there are a lot of variations in the world, mankind has been around for a long time. and in that time we've at least named everything.

I would definitely define your post as informative, however I believe it will do little to resolve the differences of opinion in the discussion, nor clear up any of the misunderstandings.

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