Welcome to my new guest post segment, Stories That Built Me. Each of these posts will be done by a guest (authors, booksellers, bloggers, and more?) who will talk about how different stories shaped them.
This post is from Mason Deaver, who is AMAZE, author of the upcoming I Wish You All the Best coming out next year from Scholastic! They are absolutely fab and are gonna take the world by storm 🙂
As a more masculine non-binary person, I rarely see myself, if ever. It’s one thing to see non-binary representation, which is already rare. But to see someone exactly like me? Someone bigger, more masculine passing, who doesn’t have the angular, more androgynous face, and wears the XS floral button ups and skinny jeans and the always smooth face.
It just doesn’t happen. And it still really hasn’t. But there has been something recently that I saw that made me feel as seen as I ever have before.
Stephen Universe is a show that loads of people have been able to see themselves in. Whether it’s Pearl, Amethyst, Garnet, Stephen himself, Greg, Peridot, Lapis. The show seems to reach out to people in a special sort of way that I feel like only a handful of animated shows have been able to do.
While I feel like I’ve been able to see a piece of myself in most of the characters, whether it be the expressions of sexuality, love, anxiety, or depression, there’s one in particular that actually makes me feel seen in a way I’ve never experienced before.
And that’s Stevonnie.
The fusion of Steven Universe and Connie Maheswaran is something special. When these two first fused I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but what these two have come to represent is nothing short of amazing. Stevonnie is a sword wielding, magic using warrior with an amazing fashion sense and long beautiful hair.
Stevonnie is also non-binary.
One can argue that Stevonnie isn’t ‘technically’ non-binary and is simply the combination of a male and female character, this is something I typically hear from people who don’t understand Stevonnie’s importance.
To see a well-loved character on screen who is non-binary, who uses they/them pronouns… it’s something that’s just so amazing.
But the moment I felt truly seen by Stevonnie’s character was in a recent episode called Jungle Moon. There’s a lot of spoilers leading up to this episode, so I won’t give full synopsis, but due to certain circumstances, Stevonnie has been left stranded with no way to get home.
Stevonnie is stuck here for a while, and as they struggle to survive and find food, Stevonnie, not having any means to shave, also begins to grow stubble.
On the surface level, this might not seem like a big deal.
But to so many trans and enby folks, seeing a character who uses they/them with stubble can be so reaffirming.
As an enby person who struggles with their facial hair, I constantly hate my face. There are moments where I can shave the second I wake up and I’m fine. But then there are times like now when I’m on a deadline and I don’t have time to shave for a few days. Then there are times where depression hits me upside the head like a bat and I just don’t have the energy.
In short, my facial hair is something I have issues with, and I hate when I can’t deal with it. But there are definitely times where I can’t control whether or not it’s there.
And for other trans people it can be an even bigger deal. Trans men might crave to see themselves with facial hair. Trans women might loathe the way it grows on their face. Other enby folks might love embracing their beards and stubble. Others, like me, might hate it.
Regardless, facial hair can be an important part of the trans/enby community, as small as it might seem. For most, it’s a symbol of something. And to see the Steven Universe team take this small detail.
It told me that they cared.
To see a non-binary character like Stevonnie deal with their stubble and doing something as simple as have it. It spoke a lot to me. Stevonnie is a brave warrior, a caring fighter; and much like Garnet, they’re a symbol of love so great between two people that it exceeds the physical boundaries of their bodies to make something so amazing.
Stevonnie’s story is so important to me, and other trans people, and with their recent appearances, it’s only become that much more important.
For so many, Stevonnie is a symbol of bravery, of living as your true self, proof that love means so much, whether it be platonic or romantic. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of an amazing show filled with such stunning representation.
There’s a tattoo on my right forearm, right at the elbow actually. A lot of people ask me about it, and most Steven Universe fans always notice that it’s the rose quartz, the gem of Steven’s mother Rose, and later Steven himself.
But for me, it’s not either of those things.
Because Connie doesn’t have a gem, Stevonnie only has one gem. A rose quartz on their belly button, just like Steven.
I have the rose quartz on me not for Rose, or Steven, even though I love those characters. I have the rose quartz for Stevonnie. For the first character that made me feel seen, for a character I care so much about. I have that for them, and I have it for me.
Just like Stevonnie, it’s a symbol for me to keep going.
Mason Deaver is a non-binary author who lives in Charlotte, NC, where the word ‘y’all’ is used in abundance. Typically, they’re writing incredibly queer stories, but when they decide to take a break, they love gardening and baking.
I Wish You All The Best:
[no preorder links yet, but I’m trusting y’all to follow through!]
When Ben DeBacker tries to come out to their parents as non-binary, their life comes to a screeching halt as they’re thrown out of their home. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they find a new home with their estranged sister Hannah, and a new school.
But attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic fellow student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, feelings begin to change, and what starts as a disaster looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life, and find first love.