SFWA Asks New Grand Master Mercedes Lackey to Clarify Past Statement on Writing Trans Characters

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Board has responded to members about an issue raised after they named Mercedes Lackey the 38th Damon Knight Grand Master earlier this month:

After we announced Mercedes Lackey as SFWA’s next Grand Master on 11/4, stances that Ms. Lackey had taken on writing trans characters resurfaced online. One was from a reader Q&A conducted in 2003, and another was from a 2017 Quora response on her feelings towards using chosen pronouns at the time. 

We recognize that these comments have caused harm to the trans community. Last year, we said, “We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling [..] oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.” 

SFWA cannot apologize on Ms. Lackey’s behalf, but we can acknowledge our contribution to this hurtful situation and stand with those in the trans and nonbinary communities. With that in mind, we asked Ms. Lackey if she would make clear her current feelings on these issues. 

Here are links to her statement, released today on her social media channels:

Mercedes Lackey on Facebook:

Before all else: trans women are women, and trans men are men. This is something I fiercely believe, and will always support.

I have made awkward statements that have caused pain or distress. My desire is, and has always been, to support the trans community and be the best ally I can. I regret that I communicated poorly and fell short of the mark.

I’m affirming here that I do, and always will, support trans rights and trans people. An individual’s pronouns are every bit as valid—and far more important—than the dictates of copy-editors in the commercial publishing industry. I wish I’d listened to you and fought for those pronouns when copy editors changed them.

I have never felt that I had the ability to write trans point-of-view characters well, and I expressed that badly in the past. Trans characters in fiction are more than just their gender, and their stories should show the richness of their whole lives in full. I am grateful for the many authors who are doing that well today. They are inspiring.

I will do everything in my power to continue to grow and learn, as I feel we all should. I have learned a lot from patient friends and fans. I apologize for hurting people.

Lackey also tweeted the statement as a thread on Twitter that starts here.

SFWA’s release ends: “The current and past presidents of SFWA named Ms. Lackey as our next Grand Master because they believe the body of her work has contributed greatly to the science fiction and fantasy genres. We invite you to reach out to us with your feedback on how we can improve the award to be more inclusive of all communities we serve.”

4 thoughts on “SFWA Asks New Grand Master Mercedes Lackey to Clarify Past Statement on Writing Trans Characters

  1. Her current comment is excellent. I don’t know what her older comments were, but I can both believe they were hurtful and that she did not know then as much as she knows now, and that she is capable of learning and improvement.

  2. Admitting that one cannot write a certain character is honesty. Personally, I know transgender people so I would have reference points to ask and have as beta readers. But not everyone does. Would I write a Black character for, example, only if I had some beta readers who could make sure that I am not making stupid assumptions etc.

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