|Years of Service|
|Gender||Female (trans woman)|
|Tortallan Universe character|
Okha Soyan (b. 216 HE), also known as the Amber Orchid, was a singer and dancer in Port Caynn performing both in eating and gambling houses like the Waterlily as well as for the Rogue Pearl Skinner personally. She also owned a lodging house, where she and her lover Nestor Haryse lived, as well as the street children Truda and Haden, who helped Nestor in his work and did chores.
She appears in Bloodhound.
Okha was born around 216 HE. Her family cast her out--probably when they realized their "son" felt more like a woman. Afterwards she studied everywhere she went, learning how to be a "real woman" by people who took her in.
By 247 HE Okha was living in Port Caynn, having a solid life there. Her lover was Nestor Haryse and she was a well-known entertainer. At some point during her life in the Port and while Pearl Skinner was the Rogue, she probably lost someone dear to her at the hands of Pearl or one of her minions. Even after this, Okha sang for Pearl Skinner herself on a weekly basis. This was the only thing she kept hidden from Nestor, because she knew that Nestor would be furious, but that nothing could be done about it, as it was a very bad idea to annoy the Rogue. Instead, she tried to gather information from Pearl's courts that Nestor could use, but never heard anything of real value. She managed to draw very accurate maps, however, which later helped Beka to bring the Rogue down.
Okha went under the pseudonym of "Amber Orchid", or "Amber" for short, at the Waterlily, where she was very popular. Zander was Amber's servant. Amongst others, she performed Carthaki songs with a flute player providing the background melody. Okha even had her own private dressing room on the second floor of the Waterlily. There she dressed,took meals, fixed her makeup and relaxed between her performances. When Beka was sought both by the Deputy Provost and by the Rogue, Okha hid her in a closet in her dressing room.
Okha was of Carthaki descent and had the typical light brown skin and black hair. It reached down to her shoulders and was made glossy by hair oil. From her appearance, Beka estimated her to be of the same age as Nestor, making her thirty-one in 247 HE. She had large, dark eyes, a short nose, and a thin mouth. Okha was five feet ten inches tall, of slender built and very graceful. Okha wore flashy clothes and jewelry as well as face-paint--kohl around her eyes, red paint on her lips and orange color on her nails. She had a light, musical voice. When performing Okha dressed as a woman. At those occasions, Okha wore a beautiful wig and--according to Beka--moved more gracefully than even a noblewoman like Lady Teodorie. She got at least some of her makeup and perfume from Barzun, brought to her through Hansevor Remy.
Okha is the first canonical transgender person to appear in any book by Pierce, and the second canonical LGBTQ person to appear in the Tortallan Universe (after Nestor Haryse). She is the sixth to appear in any book of Pierce's after Rosethorn, Lark, Daja Kisubo, Rizuka fa Dalach, and Nestor. Rosethorn and Lark's relationship was shown very subtly in The Circle of Magic quartet, but referred to explicitly in The Will of the Empress. Kyprioth was also mentioned to be genderfluid, but as this was never shown in any book that he appears in, he is not listed.
Although Lalasa Isran is a lesbian (and technically the first LGBTQ person in any book of Pierce's), her relationship with Tianine Plowman is ambiguous in the text. The nature of Lalasa and Tian's relationship was only confirmed online by Tamora Pierce, making it quasi-canon, since it wasn't explicitly stated in one of the books.
Notes and references
- Bloodhound, September 14, 247 (p. 195)
- Bloodhound, September 16, 247 I (p. 261)
- Bloodhound, September 16, 247 I (p. 258/259)
- Bloodhound, September 17, 247 II (p. 362/363)
- Bloodhound, September 17, 247 II (p. 358)
- Bloodhound, September 16, 247 I (p. 256)
- Bloodhound, September 16, 247 I (p. 257)
- Bloodhound, September 14, 247 (p. 194)
- Bloodhound, September 17, 247 I (p. 311)