With his Discworld books, Terry Pratchett, created a fascinating flat world born on the backs of four cosmic elephants carried by a stellar turtle… and over the years has taught us a lot about ourselves. The Colour of magic came out in 1983 and over the last 30 years he’s made us laugh and think. The biggest problem I have in writing this entry is sticking to my points and not diverting to the cool tangents a fan of his work can run off on.
On Prachett’s Discworld dwarves are ALL bearded, beer quaffing, axe weilding short warriors. Everyone, If a dwarf likes another dwarf, gender is apparently only discussed in private. This leads to some interesting situations.
In the Fifth Elephant Sam Vimes ( Chief of a very influential police dept. and currently a diplomat) asks his wife about a Dwarf Opera they are watching. His wife is explaining the history behind the legendary dwarfs the Opera chronicling. Stating at one point that they are some of the most famous and tragic lovers in history.
Vimes asks “Lovers? Which one was the…”
“They were both DWARFS” His wife responds tartly.
IF this sounds familiar to real life questions you’re tired of hearing, you are probably LGBT or an ally.
The Gender of dwarfs becomes a major side story in an earlier story, “Feet of Clay”. The actual storyline involves Sam Vime’s Ank-Morkpork City Watch in a case involving a plot to overthrow the current ruler of the city using Golems. In the process he frees a golem, gives it the power of speech and makes it a constable.
The local priests are quite upset with him and call the golem , named Dorlf, an abomination. To which Sam Vimes replies that ‘abomination’ is what those in power commonly call the act of giving a voice to the voiceless.
But that bit of Prachettian awesomeness is not why I mention “Feet of Clay” no it’s a minor subplot and a new character. A dwarf hired by Vimes to be his new forensic Alchemist. (though he doesn’t use the term forensic. having just invented the concept):
Corporal, then Sargeant (in later novels) Littlebottom has the distinction of being the first discworlder dwarf to openly express herself as a female dwarf: spelling her name Cheri, welding high heels onto her dwarven boots, wearing skirts, and admitting she hates quaffing.
“The beer always ends up on my neighbour”
She goes through hardships over this choice (and the trend she starts) not just in this novel but for several to come (including the earlier referenced ‘Fifth Elephant’ in which she is part of Sam Vimes’ diplomatic journey into a very conservative region of the discworld). Troubles with which any transwoman can relate.
But Transmen get an entire novel to themselves.
To be honest it’s probably more about the Victorian legends of women impersonating men to acquire male privilege, and it draws it’s title from an infamous bit of misogyny written in the 17th century.
In the “Monstrous Regiment” Pratchett tells the tale of a young desperate women who masquerades as a man in order to provide at least one more recruit to her desperate nation in the middle of a losing war. Only to find that every last ‘man’ in her military unit (except their oblivious Captain) is a female with the same idea.
I’d recommend Pratchett to anyone open to humour and fantasy over thirty years he’s played with tourism philosophy and an entire thread of his books on policing, civil society and justice.
But they are, in my mind, almost Must Reads for any transperson.
~Big Hugs. Jaypeg