Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nevy Longbottom (Trans inclusive Harry Potter AU)

It's established in Harry Potter that the chosen one is in fact chosen by Lord Voldemort himself.  (Chrome knows how to correctly spell "Voldemort" but still regards "tuatara" as too new on the scene to deserve spellcheck recognition.)

If Voldy had instead tried and failed to kill option two (there were only two options), Neville Longbottom would have had a scar in the shape of a tsan (ϟ) on his head.  This interests me because Neville is very much not Harry and thus as story about him probably wouldn't be:
Rich jock breaks rules, commits "unforgivable" acts that are supposed to land him in prison for the rest of his life, does not in fact get a life sentence (or any sentence), learns he enjoys torturing people, is repeatedly lauded as a hero (eventually in a way that sticks), and finally goes on to live a happy life.
I don't pretend to know precisely what it would be, but we can at least know what it wouldn't.

And so this happened.  Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings [Links: comment not on this topic (which contained initial footnote), main comment, the thing I forgot to put into the main comment.]

The footnote that started it:
* I suddenly wonder about the alt universe where Neville was the Boy Who Lived but just as quickly my interest wanes when I realize how what happened to his parents would almost certainly change.

Harry and Neville were both profoundly shaped by the fates of their parents.

If, somehow, Neville were being protected by Lily and James and they died for him instead of Harry, then the broad strokes would remain the same and the characters, while obviously different, could be largely intact.

[Splitting off into its own post.]

Ok, so, Harry Potter AU (in which the main character is trans because I just bumped into the heart's desire mirror, which I'd totally forgotten about, and "I saw a girl that looked so much like me" is way too tempting.)

First book:           Neville Longbottom and the . . .
Second book:     Neville Nevy Longbottom and the . . .
Rest of series:                    Nevy Longbottom and the . . .

Dumbledore guessed that Snape had heard part of the prophecy and warned four members of The Order of the Phoenix that their two babies could be in unspeakable danger.  In order to to avoid losing all four members, it was decided that two (Lily and James Potter) would look after both babies, protected by the most powerful form of magical hiding possible, while the other two (Frank and Alice Longbottom) continue to fight the war.

When the rat betrays (Seriously?  The one who could turn into a rat was a betrayer.  What the actual fuck?  Rats are awesome animals with an undeservedly bad rep) Lily and James manage to hide Harry and are about to hide Neville when in walks Voldemort (who had always assumed it was Harry and wasn't even looking for Neville) Voldemort assumes Harry is the baby, scene plays out as in canon.

Neville is the boy who lived.  Harry is the boy who happened to be hidden in a crawlspace at the time.

Since this is when Snape turns on Voldy, they quickly learn that Voldy and co are after Harry.  Thus Asshole Dumbledore still sticks Harry with evil-family.  Neville goes to grandmother.

When the Voldamovement collapses, it's revealed that it was baby Neville who broke Voldemort.

Harry is still rich with a massive extended "family you choose" waiting to meet him and support him.  Harry is still ideally suited to be a "What the fuck is up with this game?" star.

Neville gets the fame and associated revenge plots.

Neville's fame means that the canon protagonists know about Neville's parents from the start.  Harry shows Neville the Mirror of Erised before even trying with Ron (and doesn't try with Ron because, while Neville can see his own parents, with an awareness of him they don't show in real life, he can't see Harry's.)

Neville sees girl-Neville with parents.  Hasn't admitted wanting that to self.  Still uses male pronouns.  Doesn't mention the "girl" bit to Harry.

Neville and Harry continue to go see mirror.  Neville's attitude on rule breaking lessens as a result because breaking the rules lets him see his lucid parents.

When Dumbledore reveals the nature of the mirror, Neville has hard questions to ask about his[?] identity. Does not ask them of Dumbledore.

Goes to McGonagall.  Hugely good idea because it turns out that Minerva McGonagall was born Mars McGonagall and knows exactly what Neville is going through.

After talking to Neville, Minerva is reasonably confident that Neville is a trans girl, but she privately educates Neville in other options and also decides that its past time she implemented some gender education.  She doesn't have the power to do it school-wide, but she can for her house.

(She makes sure Neville is ok with this, since there's potential for mortifying embarrassment, or worse, given that Neville is the reason she made the decision.  The winning argument is: "There are probably other kids just like you, and I want to help them too.")

Book involves Neville both coming to terms with being trans* and coming to terms with breaking the rules sometimes being the right thing.  Also defeating Voldemort the body sharer.

Slythrin doesn't lose the house cup, it's a tie.  And it isn't a "I surprise you at the last minute; fuck you, 1/4 of my school" tie.  Students are confused about why it's a tie, and they don't get an answer until the assembly, but it's not a "Let you think you won to set up for the emotional gut punch" thing.

Yeah, last minute heroics above and beyond the call of student-hood duty deserve credit, but the bait and switch of the real books is BS.

- - -

Book ends with Minerva (she uses the more personal name when being an advocate for trans* students, btw) talking with Neville's grandmother and Neville stopping being Neville.  Very end is deciding on a new name and finally starting to publicly use correct pronouns.  Newly renamed Nevy will still get internal pronouns wrong sometimes, because it's not like flipping a switch (at least it wasn't for me) but the book ends with transition.

- - -

Side plot to first book:

Members of other houses start coming to attend Minerva's regular "learn about gender" sessions.  Originally they were in Gryffindor common room, which meant that as soon as others started coming the password would need to be changed after each one.

Eventually moved to a more neutral (and larger) venue.

Sessions are mandatory for Gryffindor, optional for all other students (and teachers, and anyone else who happens to be in or near the building.)

Snape isn't openly opposed; Flitwick thinks it's a great idea and started to do a similar thing (at a different time, you can attend both) for people who want a more academic approach (Minerva has an informal approach, initially surprising anyone who has her as a teacher, and with enough emotion in it that you really, viscerally, understand why she's Gryffindor); Sprout is disappointed that this stuff doesn't go without saying but, since it apparently doesn't, she's all for letting any Hufflepuff who wants to attend do so.

While Snape maintains sneering ambivalence, Flitwick has started working closely with Minerva to make sure that what he's presenting is up to date and not, you know, an unfortunate result of transphobia in the places he does his research.

Sprout originally had no involvement on the subject, but the good that Minerva's sessions have done for Hufflepuff students made her realize that "You can be anything you want to be" isn't as good of an approach as she thought because students may not know what they want to be, may not know they're allowed to want it, and/or may not know that it's actually a thing one can be.

Sprout's time with Minerva dealing with the subject has a very specific, narrow, and important focus: She only wants to know what stops students from being themselves and how to create an environment where they are no longer impeded.  She gives no shits about learning more about gender, all of her gender-related shits are reserved for making sure that her students are best able to pursue the gender things about which they give shits.

- - -

Gender acceptance at Hogwarts in the first Nevy book:

From the start Sprout's Hufflepuff would accept any trans* student, but the student would need to have first figured everything out (including self-acceptance and the bravery to come out) themselves.  Eventually Sprout starts efforts to reduce the self-directed self-study workload this put on students because "being yourself" shouldn't be a massive undertaking you do without any guidance.

McGonagall's Gryffindor was originally . . . theoretically neutral but when oppression is systemic being neutral is impossible, instead attempts at neutrality end up supports of hostility.

Neville (not Nevy yet) coming to her was the final impetus she needed to actually do something.

The gender stuff isn't part of the curriculum, and part of being "Minerva" when addressing it is to shed some of the stigma associated with being "the strict teacher" since this is an area where she feels students are better served by seeing her in a very different way.

As such, she is dragging the house to the front of the acceptance pack.

Flitwick's Ravenclaw was originally theoretically neutral but see the previous on why that's not neutral in practice.  For McGonagall that theoretical neutrality was a calculated stance.  For Flitwick it was because he'd never even thought about it.

Now that he has thought about it, Flitwick wants to be a good ally, is agitating for adding a gender and sexuality class to the required curriculum, and is doing everything he can to move Ravenclaw to the front of the acceptance pack alongside Minerva's Gryffindor.

Snape's Slytherin is . . . passionately ambivalent.

Snape himself isn't going to waste effort going against the other three house heads on this when he really, truly, does not care in the least.

Even without caring his first impulse was and is to look down on all of the trans* kids, but one of his favorite students, a soon-to-graduate previously-presumed-girl (who reminds him so much of himself), has been attending Minerva's gender sessions religiously, is way happier since starting to do so, and is showing signs of being maybe a trans boy and definitely being a trans* something.  It's not enough to make Snape an ally, but it is enough to make him ignore that first impulse more often than not.

Slytherin in general is so much more about tradition than it is about any of its stated values, so of course there's massive bigotry.  On the other hand, a couple of the more powerful and socially connected bullies turned out to be pro trans*-rights and are using their influence to push in the opposite direction (while others trying to use the high levels of ambient bigotry to undermine the pro-trans* students' power bases.)

So, basically, the hate and acrimony is going both ways.

§ ⁂ §

Annnd I totally forgot a really important part.

Since Hermoine learns about Nevy's parents much earlier, she's still in a muggle mindset when she does. She's thinking trauma and therapy and maybe medication.

Nevy (at the time still identifying as Neville) becomes incredibly interested in muggle science and medicine as a result, and the respect for muggles that comes out of it has the effect of making Nevy and co. much more likely to call wizards on their shit regarding muggle treatment.

And interested in changing the culture.


  1. Would read.


  2. [First thought] Holy shit, so trans people in a world where there's actual magic... So do you just drink a polyjuice potion if you're not sure what you are and you want to try out a different body? How easy is it to change your body, and make it permenant, if you want to, since there's potions and transformations and all that? What does gender fluid look like when you can be physically male one day and physically female the next and any combination of the two if you choose?

    [Second though] Holy shit, I bet other people have put a LOT of thought into this already, in fanfics and essays I've just never looked for... Harry Potter was so huge for a whole generation, and right about the same time as trans people were becoming more visible. I bet there's whole systems people have worked out about how magic and transness would work together.

    [Third thought] So, would wizards even have gender norms? I mean, a lot of anti-trans bigotry in real life is rooted in religion; religion was also out trying to burn witches. People try to justify their bigory with, "You're either a man or a woman, and you can't change that;" but that goes out the window when you can magic-wand-zap and just like that you've changed your physical, biological sex. Wouldn't trans people be quietly accepted because it would be so easy for them to "pass"? Would trans binary people who want to switch from "male" to "female" be accepted while still having prejudice against anyone who didn't fit neatly into those categories?

    1. So, first off, thank you for coming, reading, and commenting. While I love Redcrow's comments, sometimes it feels like . . . damn it. Forgot pronouns. Sometimes it feels like they're the only one who reads.

      Obviously it's not true (see: Ross using calipers on a duplo to get me the dimensions I wanted) but that does not change how it feels.

      - - -

      Second, probably another woo on the thought(s) that went into your comment.

      Third: For my own magic school idea I have put a fair amount of thought into where and how trans people fit in, but it looks like I haven't committed any of that to writing.

      Here's the only snippet of actual story:

      Here's the original vague idea as vaguely described with great vagueness.

      - - -

      >>Holy shit, I bet other people have put a LOT of thought into this already, in fanfics and essays I've just never looked for

      Probably. Fandom makes things better (and worse) so it would make sense that they did something on this front.

      The discussions I've been a part of weren't adding to the books but instead about the sexism (which also translated into really strong transphobia in some places) already present in them.


    2. On magic people in general:

      [Talking about magic in general, now; will come back to Harry Potter before the end.]

      - - -

      >>So, would wizards even have gender norms?

      I can see things going both ways.

      For example: If you can choose your body, then "obviously" you have a personality in line with that body, and by your choice you've "clearly" implicitly agreed to the ridged gender roles the culture will afflict upon you.

      For the positive side, it's easy to imagine it being harder to convince children that all "so and so"s are "such and such" if the children were themselves so and sos last week without feeling any such and suchness at all.

      Then there's the fact that passing isn't equal to acceptance. "You look cis to me, so I'll treat you as cis," basically translates to "Stay in the fucking closet!"

      And even if people can perfectly pass, that's not going to stop bigots from trying to find out. Under Don't Ask; Don't Tell plenty of people in the military passed as straight just fine, but were still kicked out because of how much investigating the people-who-weren't-technically-asking did.

      Honestly, I think you'd probably have bathroom bills and the like even harder. Basically:

      "Show your birth certificate because the concept of you taking a dump is threatening to my daughter and magic makes it so I can't ever know for sure without documentation."

      - - -

      >>Would trans binary people who want to switch from "male" to "female" be accepted while still having prejudice against anyone who didn't fit neatly into those categories?

      Yeah, as binary conforming I have things way easier than those who don't conform. Presumably the same for magic people.

    3. On Harry Potter in particular:

      Polyjuice is for identity theft, one assumes that for non-identity theft body change you'd use something else.

      In book four not-Moody transforms a student into a ferret with a simple wand wave. That's pretty extreme and apparently requires none of the polyjuice preparation effort.

      So, would wizards even have gender norms?In the books as written they've taken gender neutral words, assigned gender to them, and then labeled their world "The [MALE Magic Person]ing World".

      They're sexist as all fuck and don't even get me started on the spell that keeps boys out of the girls' dorm because, given what they can and can't do, there is literally no way it could not be horrifically transphobic.

      - - -

      And . . . done.

      ((Thanks for commenting.))

    4. I am secretly enamored of the notion of a young transwitch coming out by defiantly walking straight up the steps to the girl's dormitory and being allowed in.

    5. (With the understanding that Rowling would never come up with something that trans-positive or clever)

  3. Very interesting, Chris.

    I like Ross's idea of the stairs admitting trans girls. But it raises the question about where non-binary people would sleep? Do they camp out in the common room? Maybe gender-based dorms get phased out??

  4. This is.. very in depth, and absolutely spectacular. I'm speechless - no, actually, wait. Hang on...

    I've read Harry Potter, and I highly appreciate the setting and the worldbuilding, but I dislike various aspects - I've not explored many essays/posts on blogs for Harry Potter because I'm not a big fan of most of the main characters, except for Ron Weasley, and I tend to sympathise for the disliked characters (Lockhart, Lavender, young-Pettigrew, and etc.). Now, after reading this, I realise I may be missing out on a lot of good writing.

    (100% agree on the rat thing. Rats are extremely underrated.) I especially liked the part about Slytherin's response; it seems very realistic. I'm quite fond of it. You've got a good grasp on Snape's character. The realistic aspect goes for Ravenclaw too actually. I can easily be made to believe Hufflepuff's way of dealing would have unfolded as you thought - your portrayal of it is more complex and intriguing than what I may have thought up. Awesome.