Dear People of Science Fiction,

I was going to write a long blog post regarding representation in our community. These thoughts have been brewing for a year or more, and the reactions to this year's Artemis Rising submission call have shown me that it's time to stop silencing myself.

But then I realized that a) my gender identity is deeply personal, born of lived experience, and so is everyone else's; b) writing down my experiences being marginalized (on multiple fronts) requires reliving something that triggers some very bad feelings, and I don't owe anyone that; c) standing on a soapbox is not what I like to do; and d) I've already written about this in the way I know best.

So instead, this is me inviting you to have a conversation. All I ask is that you give me the benefit of your doubt. I know I'm relatively new to this industry so you have no reason to trust me, but please give a chance. I'll try to keep the rest of this as brief and minimal as necessary to help you know where I'm coming from.

Please note: this is all from me, not representing anyone else at Escape Artists, Escape Pod, or the Artemis Rising project.

I was the one who pushed back on "marginalized genders" when we began discussing this year's Artemis Rising submissions call back in spring. 

I will remove myself from Artemis Rising because I can't comfortably be part of that conversation anymore. In avoiding my negative emotional triggers, I ended up hurting others, and I don't want to inflict any more pain on the world. I apologize to everyone affected by this.

I find the word marginalized deeply problematic on a personal level. I lived several years in a high school of 1500 students where I could count the number of Asians on one hand. It was not a good time in my life. Being marginalized is something that was done to me in the past. Inhabiting the margins - or not - is something I actively choose today. 

Please note: I don't say this to put down anyone else who currently feels disempowered and wishes to use this adjective to self-identify. 

I live in one of the most culturally vibrant and diverse communities on the planet. I've spent two decades proving my worth as an engineer, and I have the respect and pay to show for it. I do my best to educate anyone who'll listen on the challenges of being a female, non-conforming gendered, brown-skinned, atheist immigrant, and I remove myself from groups that I find toxic. I've been fortunate to carve this space for myself. I realize that not everyone is so lucky.

I would like to continue as both an editor and a writer to encourage a diversity of voices in all areas of my life - fiction, engineering, science, and domestic. Representation matters to me, no matter who you are or what words you choose to describe yourself. Every human being is valuable and is worth hearing, and we all deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

If any of this makes you feel unwelcome at Escape Pod, please let me know. You can reach me by personal email (sbdivya00 at gmail). You can find me on Twitter as @divyastweets. We can schedule a time to chat on Google Hangouts or at the next convention we attend together.

If my presence is discomforting to you, then I'm failing at my work, and I will resign.

Thank you for reading this far. Now it's your turn, if you wish. I'm listening.

With my genuine best wishes,