Hello pals! Convention season is fast upon us; for your reference, here are some notes for how I interact with people in person. If you’re looking for general convention advice, John Wiswell has some great tips.
Name and pronouns
I go by S., though I will also respond to Qiouyi. Please refer to my press kit for an audio file with the pronunciation of my full name. Please do not call me by a nickname unless I have given you prior permission to do so.
I use they/them pronouns, ae/aer pronouns, and e/em pronouns interchangeably, though I'm leaning more toward the first two these days. I will sometimes use he/him pronouns, but I do NOT use she/her pronouns. They/them is the safest choice if you’re unsure which pronoun set to use.
I consider conventions to be professional settings where I am out with regards to gender. Therefore, especially when I’m wearing a name badge or pin where my pronouns are visible, I expect the correct pronouns to be used for me. I also prefer not to be referred to as a woman, girl, lady, etc. (For a more detailed breakdown of what terms I find acceptable, please visit my gendered terms page—I do NOT expect anyone to memorize this; it’s just for reference.) If you make a mistake, please correct yourself and move on. There’s no need to make a profuse apology, as anything beyond “sorry, I meant ‘they’” typically makes the conversation very awkward for me.
When I am speaking with people in person, it can be very difficult for me to correct someone else if they use the wrong pronoun for me, as it takes me a moment to recover from being misgendered. If you see or hear someone misgendering me, please feel free to correct them, even if I don’t speak up. I do not expect corrections in non-convention settings, though, such as dining where the staff isn’t part of the convention or visiting businesses that aren’t staffed by con-goers. I would rather just enjoy my time with people in those settings than have gender talks with strangers.
I am generally pretty good at remembering faces and names, especially when there are badges I can read, but conventions are demanding and stressful for me and I have bad memory, so there may be times when I forget that we’ve interacted before. Please feel free to re-introduce yourself; it’s not a slight or a reflection of my opinion of you if I don’t remember you—in fact, I probably feel embarrassed about forgetting!
I get a lot of Twitter notifications, but I have a general sense of who interacts with me there, so please feel free to let me know that we’ve talked on Twitter. That helps me put a face to the name, especially if your handle doesn’t include the name you go by in con spaces.
I am usually okay with hugs, but I would appreciate it if you asked first, especially if you’re a stranger.
I will have business cards on me. If I forget to give you one, please feel free to ask for one. I’ve left white space on the cards so that you can write on them if you’d like.
General conversations and interactions
I speak English, Mandarin, and Spanish, in order of proficiency. If you feel more comfortable speaking in Mandarin or Spanish, please feel free to use either with me, though my speaking may not be as fluent as in English, and my Spanish listening skills are weaker than my English and Mandarin listening skills.
I am usually okay with meeting new people, but I can get overwhelmed easily in crowds, especially if I don’t know anyone there. Plus, I can be shyer in-person than online. But please feel free to approach me and say hi! Please note that WisCon usually has interaction cards, so if mine is set to red or do not disturb, I probably need some downtime and don’t want to chat or hang out at the moment. Please feel free to try again later or online, where I can respond at my leisure.
I am also an introvert and tire out quickly. If I excuse myself, it’s most likely because I need some alone time or down time. I might not explicitly phrase it as such if I don’t know you well, but rest assured that it’s more likely a reflection of my tiredness than any reflection on you.
I am allistic and don’t have any hearing issues as far as I can tell, but noisy environments can be difficult for me, and when I get tired and/or anxious, sometimes I will mumble or find forming coherent sentences more difficult. I may ask you to speak up; please feel free to ask the same of me.
I tend to drink very little alcohol, but I’m okay being around people drinking and going to bars, though I may excuse myself if people become uncomfortably rowdy or if the environment is too noisy for me. I don’t smoke, but I can be around smokers, preferably if I’m upwind of the smoke. I don’t typically use marijuana, but I’m okay being around people using marijuana with a combination of the above caveats.
I don’t have any dietary restrictions or access needs, other than the understanding that I may excuse myself early if I’m feeling overwhelmed or tired. I try to go scent-free at conventions, particularly at WisCon where there’s a low-scent policy, but I may bring some perfumes to share with people. Please let me know in advance if you’re sensitive or allergic to scents, and I will do my best to minimize use of or avoid them when we’re sharing space.
I start wearing out after 10PM or so, so I’m not usually up for late-night stuff. But please feel free to extend an invite anyway; I might show up if I’m feeling up for it.
I am happy to talk about editing and publishing in general and will have business cards for Arsenika as well. However, I prefer not to discuss the status of your submission or whether I have any feedback on your piece.
I do my best to livetweet panels, especially at WisCon. If you see me on my phone or iPad during your panel, I’m not ignoring the discussion; in fact, it’s the opposite.
Thanks for reading this post! I don’t expect anyone to memorize all this, and I understand if people forget or aren’t aware; I’m putting this here for people to reference and so I have a link to refer to in the future. If you have any questions, you may leave them below or contact me.
Photo by Hung Le.