Since the change in administration in the US this year, I’m noticing what looks to be strong moves toward erasure of women as a separate sex and/or gender. For example, in the first 50 days of the Biden administration, the president signed an executive order removing any distinction between women and trans-women in sports, opening the doors for anyone who identifies as a woman, regardless of phenotype or testosterone level. The Equal Rights Amendment is back for ratification. And the Biden administration broadened International Women’s Day in the US this month to include LGBTQ and disabled persons. Move over gals. Presumably, these people have their finger on the larger trends.

In publishing there’s been a fairly obvious discrimination against white men in recent years, justified as payback for all those decades when white men dominated the science fiction market. For a little while, it was a competitive advantage to be a woman science fiction writer, as progressive publishers opened the gates and searched for female talent to fill their bookshelves. But now I’ve looked back at my most recent review of the Hugo Awards, and I suspect the market is closing down for women. In 2020, for example, about 50% of the Hugo finalists were LGBTQ and about 30% were men, which leaves only 20% of the spaces for writers who identify as cisgender straight women of any ethnicity. This strongly suggests that just being a woman, or even a woman of color, isn’t enough to get you published any more as a writer and that you need to look for intersectionalities to make yourself trendier and more attractive for a publisher.

You can see this in development of C.L. Polk’s bio, for example. When Witchmark was published in 2018, Polk was described as a black woman, and used “she” for a pronoun. Now, I notice Polk is advertised as black, queer, disabled and nonbinary, having shifted to “they” as a pronoun. There is apparently even more pressure for white than minority women, as you can see a strong trend to fabricate minority ethnicities (a.k.a blackfishing) in order to gain advantage. For example, note Elizabeth Warren, Hilaria Baldwin, Rachel Dolezal, Jessica Krug and CV Vitolo-Haddad, all of whom have been recently exposed as fakes. In a related squabble, cancel culture went after J.K. Rowling last year for insisting that cis women should be recognized as a separate gender category. In response, I see there’s now a Harry Potter game where you can choose your preferred gender and ethnicity.

So, where is this headed? Is the only successful writer of the future “other” ethnicity, LGBTIQ, disabled and nonbinary? Or is there a way to manufacture more intersectionalities?