Speculative Soul can sensitivity read for specific marginalized representations, as follows:

 

  • Asexual and/or Aromantic orientations

    • I'm passionate about asexual spectrum and aromantic spectrum representation in fiction as an editor, author, and reader. I love working with stories featuring these so often misunderstood identities.

    • Aspects to be aware of when representing these orientations include the various forms of attraction, accurate terminology, queerplatonic relationships, identities on these spectrums (such as gray-sexual or gray-romantic and demi-sexual or demi-romantic), and the varying alignments that asexual and aromantic people have towards sex and romance (ranging from sex-averse to sex-favorable and romance-averse to romance-favorable). It's also important not to conflate asexuality and aromanticism. I'll check for accuracy in these regards, as well for stereotypes and potentially toxic tropes.

    • As an active part of the asexual and aromantic communities, I'm educated throughout the broad spectrum these orientations encompass. However, my specific orientation is asexual and aromantic. I'm also sex-averse and romance-indifferent. I can speak most closely to characters sharing similar traits.

 

  • Agender and Non-Binary gender identities

    • Literature desperately needs more characters beyond the binary of man or woman. I love working with stories that include non-binary characters.

    • Common traps that non-binary representation falls into include conflating gender with sexual or romantic orientation, conflating gender identity with gender expression, or treating non-binary as a state between man and woman (some non-binary people are androgynous or partially a binary gender; others might be genderfluid, a gender separate from binary concepts, or entirely agender). It's also important to watch out for stereotypes (such as representing all non-binary people as young, skinny, white, abled, and androgynous), harmful gender-essentialist attitudes, and potentially toxic tropes. Pronoun usage and gender-inclusive language must be taken into consideration, as well.

    • Specifically, I'm agender (genderless) and non-binary with androgynous gender expression. I can speak most closely to characters sharing similar traits.

 

  • Generalized Anxiety or Social Anxiety disorders

    • Anxiety disorders are growing in public awareness, but are often oversimplified or inaccurate in fiction.

    • Issues that often occur with representation include conflating anxiety with depression (many people experience both, but they are separate disorders), conflating anxiety as an emotion with anxiety as a disorder, conflating different types of anxiety disorders, portraying unrealistic treatment methods (such as characters "just getting over it"), anxiety mysteriously fading away during important plot moments, or accidentally equating anxiety with weakness.

    • Through a combination of experience and education, I can read for most anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, dissociative disorders, panic disorders, and OCD (see below).

 

  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

    • OCD is woefully misunderstood in popular culture. In fiction, it's nearly non-existent, and many current portrayals are misinformed. If you're writing a character who struggles with OCD, I'd love to help ensure your efforts are accurate.

    • I'll be blunt: if you're writing a character with OCD and have never dealt with the disorder yourself, you need a sensitivity reader. OCD symptoms often express themselves through different "themes" of intrusive thoughts, which trigger compulsions which may be physical (such as checking locks repeatedly or re-reading sentences repeatedly) or entirely mental (such as imagining or replaying certain scenarios repeatedly). These intrusive thoughts can veer into extremely macabre territory, and it's vital that these thoughts are never conflated with a character's true feelings, morals, or nature. Many representations lack even awareness of intrusive thoughts, focusing exclusively on physical compulsions. However, even those compulsions which are more commonly represented, such as hand-washing, are in reality driven by frightening intrusive thoughts. Another important characteristic of OCD is that sufferers realize these thoughts and compulsions are irrational, yet often themselves find themselves unable to escape these neurological loops and fight/flight/freeze responses without a treatment strategy. As a reader, I'll check for realism in these regards.

    • It's also important to avoid conflating OCD with its toxic popular culture misinterpretation. It is not quirky. It is not a joke. It is not OCPD (a personality disorder with perfectionist tendencies, entirely unrelated to OCD). It should never be used as an adjective. OCD varies in severity, but its intrusive thoughts and compulsions often inflict doubt, shame, disgust, distress, and panic in sufferers, and according to recent studies, sufferers are ten times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. It's a serious disorder requiring - and in need of - serious, careful representation.

    • Through a combination of experience and education, I can read for OCD, including a variety of symptoms and themes. I can also read for realism regarding various treatment styles (including CBT, DBT, exposure therapy, and RA therapy). Note that I cannot necessarily read for related disorders, such as BDD or Trichotillomania. I'm a registered #OCDvocate with the International OCD Foundation.

 

  • Misophonia

    • Misophonia is a little known disorder, in need of accurate depictions in fiction.

    • Issues that often occur with representation include conflating misophonia with anxiety even though its symptoms more commonly trigger anger instead of fear, conflating misophonic reactions to certain sounds with mere dislike of certain sounds, treating it as a psychological disorder when it's actually a neurophysiological disorder, treating chewing noises as the only possible trigger sound, or portraying exposure therapy as a treatment strategy (responses vary, but unlike OCD, misophonia typically responds adversely to exposure therapy).

    • Through a combination of experience and education, I can read for Misophonia, as well as for realistic coping mechanisms and strategies.

 

Representation can be a loaded subject, but I would love to offer precise, non-judgemental feedback to help accomplish the mission of doing your readers and characters justice.

Request a no-obligation editing sample of your first 5 pages.

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If requesting a sensitivity reading, please specify the relevant representations.