usedtobecakeisalieieat31415 asked:

Neil, you've written a trans woman character in Sandman but the way the story develops makes it seem like you think trans women arent actual women. And well, considering what you said about your friend, im sure thats not the case. So... could you clarify things? (i hope this doesnt sound accusatory, thats not how i mean it)

neil-gaiman answered:

Why would you think that? I think the final page is absolutely clear on Wanda’s gender. And I hope the story is too.

Mostly, I found a lot of the stuff I was seeing in the late 80s from some feminist quarters really offensive, seeing them dismiss trans women as not real women, and decided that I wanted to put those attitudes into the story, which, from the title on, was about identity and how we create our own. So yes, there are god-like things in Sandman who do not see Wanda as a woman, just as Wanda’s family back in Kansas are not able not see her as a woman, but then, the narrative in Sandman is pretty clear that god-like things are just as likely to be screwed up, wrongheaded and mistaken as anyone else in the story. Wanda’s attitudes and responses to the Gods in the story are mine, although said much more pithily than I would have.

If I were writing it today, rather than in 1989, when there weren’t any Trans characters in comics, it would be a different story, I have no doubt. But that was the story I wrote in 1989. I got a fair amount of hate mail for putting a trans character in a mainstream comic, and I’m still proud of it, and of Wanda.






this is such a self-congratulatory retcon it disgusts me. when you write force majeure into your story and make it do value judgments, what in fuck’s name do you think people are going to take as the last word on a point of contention

also “there weren’t any trans characters in comics” maybe not the ones you and your boys’ club were writing you smug little shit

1. Neil Gaiman wrote more LGBTQIA characters into his 80s mainstream stories than most other writers do today. Mainstream.Keyword is mainstream. How many mainstream comics or media do you know today very actively portray transwomen as a major player in an arc or storyline? What about in the 80s? And when I say mainstream, I mean mainstream.

2. If you actually read the storyline, you’ll understand that Wanda remained Wanda even while the entire world was against her, the last insult being the name Alvin on her gravestone—promptly crossed out and replaced with Wanda by Barbie, who with the lipstick wrote the last word; the last word in writing being Wanda’s true name. 

3. Death, who was probably the most powerful being in existence and arguably the greatest of the Endless, knew completely and entirely who Wanda was—a woman. That was the final word, to trump all other words. Wanda was a woman, and no shitty gravestone marker, no intolerant families, and no evil cuckoos could say otherwise. 

That was my point of view too. Obviously, readers’ mileage varied and not everyone took that away from the story. But I think most people did. Or at least, I hope so.

Just to insert some additional facts into this, as someone reasonably knowledgeable of the texts in question.

1) The twenty-eight year friendship Gaiman referred to earlier in this discussion is almost certainly Roz Kaveney, a trans activist who is particularly outspoken critic of TERFs, as well as a prominent member of British sci-fi fandom who is thanked in the credits for the Game of You trade paperback, and who I can basically guarantee you without having seen an interview quote to this effect served as an advisor and consultant on the Wanda plot. This is not, of course, a magical inoculation against all problems, but it does at least provide reasonable evidence that Gaiman knew what issues he was coming into contact with.

2) The goddess that misgenders Wanda is a moon goddess. This is almost certainly intended as a reference to Dianic Wicca, a feminist pagan tradition that is also ideologically transphobic and an early example of what we now call TERFs. The case for this being intentional seems to me very strong, and I think anyone trying to argue that it was not Gaiman’s intent when writing Game of You would need active textual evidence against it - it would be shocking if, between Gaiman’s increasing connections to the neopagan community via fandom and his friendship with Kaveney he did not know about Dianic Wicca. 

3) While I quibble slightly with “the most powerful being in existence” mattering much in terms of the Endless, it remains the case that, on the whole, Death is the closest thing that Sandman has to a moral authority. The text is consistently deferential to her view, and she’s essentially the only character in the entire text where you’d really have to struggle to find a moment where she does something awful to anyone. The fact that the story goes out of its way to show Death acknowledging Wanda as a woman does, in fact, speak volumes. 

4) All of which said, the story absolutely does contribute to a larger cliche of the trans person as beautiful but doomed to die. There are of course defenses to be made of any individual text in this tendency. Indeed, they’re kind of inevitable - stories that are angry and about demonstrating something that is wrong with the world, particularly horror stories of that sort, are overwhelmingly likely to end with sympathetic people dying. Yes, there are way too damn many stories about trans people dying. But…

5) There weren’t nearly as many in 1991-92, when A Game of You came out. Dianic Wicca was younger then than A Game of You is now. Gaiman’s statement above that he would write the story differently now, I would suggest, almost certainly meant to indicate precisely that fact - that he recognizes that things that were progressive and major breakthroughs in 1991-92 would be considerably less progressive in 2014, and that he would aim to do something different today. 

Accordingly, I do not think that the critique of transphobia in A Game of You is particularly persuasive. It is an imperfect text, but a frankly bizarre choice of targets given its historical context.

I suspect part of the problem is that people don’t read Sandman in historic context. And mostly, they shouldn’t need to. 

It would have seemed ridiculous when I started writing it to think that that people would be reading it 25 years later as current fiction, rather than, if anyone read it,  as a curiosity that you could find in single issues in the quarter bins of comic book stores.

Would I write that story in that way now? Obviously not. But Wanda was one of my favourite characters in Sandman, and there were a lot of characters.




Because it comes up a lot for all of us trying to manage schedules that slam more than 24 hours of work into a day, I thought I would make one giant productivity post for everyone to help us all out (including myself). 

10 steps to GET MORE SHIT DONE in a day 

  1. JUST START—I think most of us find that sometimes the hardest part to starting a task is overcoming the “ugh—fuck this shit, I don’t want to do this” feeling. So, trick yourself into it. Instead of saying you’re going to work for 8 hours, tell yourself you’ll do an hour… and watch that hour turn into 2 or 3 or 4 magically. 
  2. Action fights anxiety—If you’re terrified of a project hanging over your head, just start it!! Instead of waiting till tomorrow or next week when things might be right, just start right now! Do something to help yourself feel better about it. You’ll feel better getting through the rest of your day if you don’t have the fear. If you wake up at 2 am panicked you haven’t replied to an email, get up and do it now so you can go back to sleep in peace!
  3. Make a list—Never underestimate the power of writing it down and crossing it off. 
  4. Take care of yourself—It’s hard to work when you’re tired or hungry or haven’t worked out, etc. So, prioritize—make yourself #1! You’re fucking worth it. So work out, eat breakfast, sleep 6 or 8 or 9 hours (whatever you need). Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel ready to take on the day. 
  5. Stay organized—I have a slightly OCD-type personality. If the desk is a mess, it’s hard for me to do my work. So put things back where they belong, take the time to keep things tidy so you can do your best work.   
  6. Don’t multitask—We all think we’re good at this—but the truth is we’re shit. We’re complete and utter shit at multitasking. Do one thing very well instead of four things poorly. 
  7. Shut off—Turning away from the work for just a minute can really decrease your productivity. Unless you are actively waiting on a text to hear the test results from your mother’s biopsy or an emergency call from your best friend that your house is burning down almost anything else can wait another hour until you finish your task. Even an email from your boss can probably wait another 10 minutes for you to finish what you’re working on. 
  8. Be competitive—Be a better you than you were yesterday. Do more. Show yesterday-you that they’re a lazy bitch and you can do better!
  9. Refocushere’s a list of how to do it in 3 minutes or less. 
  10. Give a fuck!!—If you actually care about what you’re doing, you’ll be more motivated to do it!

10 very specific ways to get more shit done

  1. Work when you work best—This rule that people work better in the morning is bullshit. Some people work best from 5 am to 7 am, but some of us do our best work from 1 pm to 3 pm or 10 pm to midnight. Work when you do your best work and get things done—whenever that is!!
  2. Localize—Put it all in one place. Stop moving between eight study resources or you’ll fail to focus on one thing well—instead condense all your study materials into one place and then focus on that ONE thing. 
  3. Multi-task on the stuff that doesn’t matter—It takes no brain power to clean a counter, so when you have to clean your apartment you can also return the phone calls you’ve put off. When you have to stand in line for coffee you can also answer emails, while your lunch is heating in the microwave you can put away the dishes in the dish washer. Get more done in the spaces between. 
  4. Be contrary—Who says you have to buy groceries on the busiest shopping day? Go at a weird time when other people won’t be there and you can get in and out faster. Don’t waste your time waiting in line just because that’s when everyone else does something. Do things when you can do it fastest!! Hit the post office at 3 pm when everyone else is at work, go to the gym late in the evening after the post-work rush is over. Do it when you can get it done fast!
  5. Buy the right shit—Go ahead and buy the best tool for the task. If you don’t set yourself up right, you’ll just spend more time fighting for things to work than actually working!! 
  6. In arm’s reach or screw it—When you sit down to work, get all the things you need ready to go so you don’t have to keep getting up for more paper or some water. If it’s not within arm’s reach, move it or screw it!
  7. Bribe yourself—Never underestimate the power of a piece of chocolate, or a night out at the end of the week, or an online shopping spree for that shirt you’ve wanted. 
  8. Turn it up (or turn it down)—If you hate the quiet play music, but if the sound is too distracting shut it the fuck off. Work in a space that works for you. 
  9. Deep end—welcome to it--Do the hard stuff first. You’ll lose energy as the day goes on, so leave the easy things for when you’re tired and don’t need as much will power. 
  10. One touch—You’ve probably heard this one before, but here’s my irreverent version of it. Pick it up—don’t put it the fuck down until you’re done. If you get an email from your professor saying you all have to complete a required form, do the fucking form now and email it back immediately. Why spend more time later having to look at that damn email again? If you realize you’re out of paper towels, check your level of tin foil and tissues while you’re at it so you can go to the store one time. Do it once, do it right, don’t fuck around. 

Oh, and don’t forget to give yourself a break when you need it. Not every day can be a day where everything gets done. :) 

If something doesn’t work, try something else! If you don’t get stuff done today, you can try again tomorrow! Just don’t give up!