Other Habits by Judy Klass
Viridian and Teal are therapists in a future society in which almost all people are non-binary: no longer exclusively male or female. Fetuses are treated in utero with genes from hermaphroditic fish, and now children grow up without a fixed gender. In adolescence, they explore their ability to express in different ways along a gender spectrum, or to be asexual. Viridian and Teal must evaluate a couple that...
Viridian and Teal are therapists in a future society in which almost all people are non-binary: no longer exclusively male or female. Fetuses are treated in utero with genes from hermaphroditic fish, and now children grow up without a fixed gender. In adolescence, they explore their ability to express in different ways along a gender spectrum, or to be asexual. Viridian and Teal must evaluate a couple that wants the fish genes removed; one feels completely feminine, the other completely masculine, they have lived in male and female roles for years, and wish to be “frozen” in those roles. Viridian and Teal must determine, for the state, if the couple is sane and should be allowed to proceed. The couple have the names Amaranth and Cerulean, but prefer to be called Saffron and Topaz and by the pronouns "she" and "he." They seem freakish in their society. They have been together seven years. They do not feel the therapists or the government have a right to judge them or their relationship, but cooperate with the therapy to win civil rights for other binary couples.
Viridian cannot understand why anyone would want to go back to the Dark Ages before gender fluidity, when there was so much more crime, messed-up relationships, mental illness, addiction ... And what if this couple is sanctioned by the state, and chooses to have children, and denies them the fish gene therapy? Viridian loves Umber, who urges Viridian to be less judgmental; this peculiar couple makes people ask questions, Umber says, and that can’t be bad. Umber has stress at work, also, directing a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on the main stage of a big theater, but Hibiscus, who gave Umber that job, wants to impose certain interpretations on the production. To keep Hibiscus busy (at least in part) Umber writes a play for the theater to present in its black box: a play in which Elizabethan actors playing Viola and Olivia are really girls disguised as boys (or, in the case of Viola, a girl playing a boy playing a girl playing a boy) and fall in love with each other. Umber writes in a role for Hibiscus as Shakespeare, watching them rehearse, moved by their androgyny as Shakespeare was moved by the young man in the sonnets. Umber wants the Viola and Olivia characters to escape the binary universe, but thinks Shakespeare may be too old to go with them ... Viridian teases Umber about Umber's fixation on "fluidity virgins," discovering it for the first time. Teal loves Fennel, who thinks the binary couple is kinky – pornographic, almost. Teal is bemused by Fennel’s reaction, but later worries that their relationship is too frivolous. By the end of the play, Viridian and Teal do make a judgement about the binary couple they have been talking to.