For casual readers, all the backstory: it’s established very early in the comic that Thorn has two biological moms. Readers almost immediately jumped on the fact that two cis women (XX + XX) can’t easily have a cis son (XY). So is gamete-bending a bonus feature of the reproductive magitech…or is someone in this equation trans?
At the time I was deliberately vague — because I hadn’t decided all the gametes involved, and wanted to keep my options open.
Since then, it’s mostly been easy to stay vague. Chromosomes aren’t exactly plot-relevant for a lot of storylines. They did come up in the (currently) Patreon-only short about Hyacinth — which left Grandma Clover’s genetics in doubt, and quietly avoided mentioning Thorn’s at all.
It wasn’t decisive…but it did narrow down the possibilities.
At this point I have three scenarios to choose from:
- Clover is an intersex woman (XY) with the gene for androgen insensitivity syndrome on the X chromosome; Thorn is a cis man (XY) and not a carrier
- Clover is a cis woman (XX) and a non-affected AIS carrier; Thorn is a trans man (XX) and a non-affected carrier
- Clover is an intersex woman (XY with AIS) and Thorn is a trans man (XX) and a non-affected carrier
The NSFW bonus art section has (so far) avoided showing anything, for either Thorn or Clover, that would rule any of those out.
True story: I seriously considered confirming trans!Thorn in this cast portrait (which has “at least 1 each” of various gender configurations)…then decided I wasn’t ready to be that decisive, and hastily drew in Mata to rep for the “flat-chested trans man” body type.
(…if you want to be picky, Mata had top surgery as an adult, while trans!Thorn would’ve taken hormones to go through male puberty and pre-empted the need for surgery, so they’re still different, but I digress.)
Fast-forward several months. I start writing a mini-storyline where Leif gets permission to ask Thorn some personal questions. They’re at a point in their relationship where Thorn is prepared to give intimate answers in frank detail. Which means I need to nail down, once and for all, what those answers canonically are.
So I did! I committed to a specific genetic setup, and wrote and drew all the way to the end of the storyline with that in mind!
…and then promptly started second-guessing it. Because of course.
Points in favor of trans Thorn:
- trans rep is good!
- a trans main character would qualify the comic for new reclists and promotional opportunities
- he can be biological-but-not-temporal twins with Tansy, which is weird and fun
- easy genetic setup for future kid(s) with Leif (carried by a surrogate)
Points in favor of cis Thorn:
- some details in canon (notably, the running gag about Thorn being short) might be off-putting with a confirmed-trans character
- some people get mad/upset about NSFW with trans characters [ETA: the people whose feelings I’m concerned about are, themselves, trans]
- I have a bunch of material I’d like to explore that only applies if his relationship with his body (and bodies in general) was fairly straightforward before everything changed
when the Fire Nation attacked
- he can ask Tansy to be the egg donor for future kid(s) with Leif, which is sweet and fun
…and since “churning over these lists with no results” is as far as my brain has been able to get on its own, this is the point where I open the floor to the rest of the world.
For people who like low-effort answers, here’s a poll. [ETA, August 9: Voting is closed! Conversation is still welcome.]
- Cis Thorn! 42%, 50 votes50 votes 42%50 votes - 42% of all votes
- I'm happy with either 33%, 39 votes39 votes 33%39 votes - 33% of all votes
- Trans Thorn! 13%, 15 votes15 votes 13%15 votes - 13% of all votes
- Doesn't matter to me, I just like voting in polls 8%, 10 votes10 votes 8%10 votes - 8% of all votes
- I'm not sure/I need more information 3%, 4 votes4 votes 3%4 votes - 3% of all votes
If you have a strong preference, comment and tell me why!
If you just have more points that you think should be on my lists of Things To Consider, I’ll take those too.
And if you have questions — about the worldbuilding in the comic, about how I would handle such-and-such a plot point, anything like that — ask away.
The issue that needs to get settled in canon soon is Thorn’s, but feel free to put in comments about Clover’s situation too, directly-related or not.
I’m especially interested in hearing from trans/intersex readers — but, listen, anyone could think of something I haven’t, so everyone’s input is welcome.
(…as long as it’s helpful. Anyone who wants to go “trans people don’t exist and intersex people need to pick a side” needs to go somewhere else.)