Earlier this year, we were proud to announce that the Muffy V. Ladygirl Fellowship for Literary Maidens would be open to nonbinary applicants. While we did everything in our power to get it right, we did receive some pushback on the application process. Comments such as “I am not a woman,” “I am tired of having to misgender myself just to access the already scarce resources for marginalized genders in the literary world,” and “Please just let me use the bathroom in peace” made our evaluation committee stop and take note. As the chair of that committee, I wanted to take some time to put your fears to rest.
Some people think that adding “and nonbinary people” to our application form while not changing anything about our application process, internet presence, or programming is evidence that we want credit for being inclusive without doing any actual work. Let me be clear: We want to create opportunities for ALL marginalized genders. That includes women, girls, girlbosses, missuses, madams, dames, broads, gals, gal pals, sweet patooties, hello nurses, and any other hot tomato with a great caboose.
But listen, we hear you. You nonbinary people are super-sensitive about being grouped in with the ladies for some reason, and we want to respect that enough to stop people from making mean TikToks about us. Your feedback has led our steering committee to take several steps to make the Ladygirl Fellowship even more accessible to nonbinary applicants, including:
- Wishing all applicants a Happy International Women and Nonbinary Peoples Day, and ignoring all of the feedback we have received on that practice
- Spelling various gendered words with an “x” because inclusivity means all consonants are valid
- A mandatory screening of Brokeback Mountain during our last board meeting (we couldn’t find any movies about nonbinary people, but we figured it was close enough)
- Emailing several prominent nonbinary writers and asking them to give hours of free labor to our committee, and then passive-aggressively dragging them on Twitter when they say no
We have also heard your concerns about how your applications are evaluated by a committee that lacks sexual diversity, gender diversity, racial diversity, or any members that are not middle-aged white women who have firm opinions about which Sex and the City character they are. (We have so many Carries.) While we share your concerns about diversity, we do not have the capacity to expand the committee at this time. Instead, we are making other efforts to include diverse voices in our operations. For example, my niece is gay, and she has a lot of opinions about gender diversity. And if she ever talks to me again after the fight we had at Christmas, I’ll be sure to run all of this by her.
We also acknowledge that for some nonbinary writers, these efforts will not be enough. If you choose to withdraw your application, please be aware that we cannot refund your application fee, as we have already spent it on matinee tickets to Mamma Mia. For anyone disappointed, we are happy to offer a free ticket to this year’s fundraising gala in New York City. You won’t want to miss our keynote speaker, Jaylor Tameson, who will be reading from her award-winning Substack newsletter “Why the Greatest Generation Didn’t Need Pronouns to Beat Hitler.” You’ll also need to help serve the hors d’oeuvres, so please wear non-slip shoes.
For those who decide that the Ladygirl Fellowship is not the right opportunity for them at this time, we hope you’ll see the changes we make and choose to apply again in the future. Thank you for supporting our dual mission of creating opportunities for women and girls and nonbinary people, and also making sure those opportunities are branded like a nine-year-old girl’s birthday party for reasons we refuse to examine. Gxrl pxwxr!
—The Ladygirl Fellowship for Literary Maidens Committee