Sensitivity Reading

What is sensitivity reading?

Sensitivity reading is when a professional reader from a marginalised group reads a piece of work about people from that group, and provides feedback to make sure it comes across as authentic and doesn't fall into stereotypes. An author who's writing outside of their experience – for example, a cisgender (non-transgender) author writing a novel with transgender characters – may want the expertise of someone who has lived experience of that marginalisation to fill in gaps in their knowledge and avoid common pitfalls. Someone who has a marginalisation in common with their character might still benefit from a sensitivity reader; for example, a disabled writer from the US who wants to write about disabled people in the UK may need to know how their characters might navigate the UK healthcare system. 

Sensitivity readers are becoming more common in the fiction publishing industry, but this work isn't limited to fiction; non-fiction writers can also benefit from sensitivity reading when writing about marginalised people's real life experiences. Meanwhile, TTRPG and larp designers may need a reader who can consider the impact of mechanics and art in addition to narrative elements and game text.

If you're writing outside of your experience and need someone to make sure you're representing those experiences sensitively, I would be happy to help.

Lived Experience

I can consult based on the following lived experiences:


I'm genderfluid and transmasculine and have been gender-nonconforming since early childhood, realised I was trans in some way as a teenager, and came out in my early twenties (2014). I was involved in online trans activism in the UK for seven years, and have used my lived experience to inform consultation responses and policy documents for organisations including the Nonbinary Inclusion Project and the Trans Workgroup for the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK (now known as the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy). I have lived experience of social transition, but not medical transition (although I have developed some knowledge of medical transition and UK trans healthcare systems through my activism work and talking to other trans people in my local community). I also have lived experience of navigating (non-transition-related) NHS and private healthcare as a trans person, and of transphobia in healthcare settings.


Includes chronic fatigue and pain, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, peripheral neuropathies, dysautonomia, and endometriosis.

I have lived with chronic fatigue and pain all my life, but to a much greater degree since I developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in 2014. As well as worsening my existing chronic symptoms, the GBS gave me muscle weakness and peripheral neuropathies that prevented me from walking unaided for several weeks during the acute phase of the disease. My speech, vision, and ability to move my mouth muscles were also affected due to nerve damage in my face. I spent the next several years slowly recovering from these symptoms, undergoing physiotherapy and regular facial Botox injections. Although my nerve damage is considered to be 'fully recovered', I still experience chronic fatigue and pain to a greater degree than before the GBS, and still have some muscle weakness in my limbs and face, as well as symptoms of dysautonomia. 

I was also diagnosed with endometriosis following a diagnostic laparoscopy in 2022, although I had been living with the condition for at least 15 years prior to that. I use disability aids such as compression wear and wrist supports to manage my pain, and use assistive technology – including dictation software and auto-scrolling apps – to make digital life more accessible to me. I have lived experience of being hospitalised (NHS, intensive care, and both inpatient and outpatient wards) and of navigating the UK healthcare system (NHS and private) as a disabled person.


I am autistic and was diagnosed in my mid-twenties (2019) through an NHS assessment. My lived experience includes shutdowns (but not meltdowns), selective mutism, auditory processing difficulties, stimming, special interests, sensory over- and under-stimulation, synaesthesia, and difficulty with social interactions.  


I came out as bisexual as a teenager (2009), and have had relationships with men and nonbinary people. I have experienced biphobia and heteronormativity in interpersonal relationships, and in educational and healthcare settings. I am active in both local and online queer communities.


I have been non-monogamous – and engaged with local and online non-monogamous/polyamorous communities – for the past nine years. 

I've done my best to summarise here but these descriptions aren't exhaustive; if you're looking for someone with a very specific experience that I haven't listed here, feel free to reach out and ask for more detail.

Working with me

In order to get the best out of my work, it would be helpful if you could tell me some detail about what you need in your initial email. Let me know a little about your project, your intended audience, and what identities you'd like help with representing. If there are any specific scenes, characters, or themes you'd like me to focus on, then tell me about those. This will help me to judge whether the job is right for me, and lets me know what to prioritise if we decide to go ahead.

The length of sensitivity reading jobs can vary widely even between two works of the same word count, but you're welcome to set a hard deadline and/or a maximum fee when negotiating our contract. I will then focus on the sections that need the most attention, to ensure you're getting the most out of my work. I'm also open to sliding scale or payment plans for indie creators and marginalised people. 

I'm familiar with Microsoft Word, Libre Office, and Google Docs, and can provide my feedback in comment balloons within the project file[s] or as a list of notes in a separate document, depending on your preference. I will also write you a report briefly summarising my work.

"Rowan ... [was] professional, friendly, affordable, and transparent about their process every step of the way, and I found their comments very helpful in making my autistic character much more consistent and authentic. I plan to work with them again on future books, and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quality sensitivity read at a reasonable price." Mariah Norris, Author of Secrets Like Glass

"Rowan was extremely patient in … Using their experience, knowledge and clear analysis to explain the problems with my work and providing some great ideas in how they could be handled more sensitively. … Rowan consistently gave me reasonable timelines for how quickly they could work and was incredibly transparent about their schedule throughout the process … despite my limited budget they provided first class feedback.

I'd strongly recommend Rowan Pierce for any project that you think may require a sensitivity reader." Liam Macleod, Author

"We found [Rowan] to be an incredibly valuable member of the team ... They particularly understand disability representation both in an individual and structural way but are also able to advocate and design for other elements of sensitivity.

Would highly recommend for ... sensitivity consultation work." Hazel Dixon and Erin Marsh, Creative Leads for Millennium Bugs at Bobbit Worm Games

"Queerly Represent Me worked with Rowan on a collection of best practice guidelines. Rowan responded to the opportunity promptly, provided articulate and well-informed contributions, and was overall a pleasure to work with. I'd recommend them for future freelance and contract work.” – Alayna Cole, Managing Director for Represent Me (formerly known as Queerly Represent Me)

"Rowan always brings incredible care and precision to their work ... they were able to provide valuable knowledge on LGBTQIA+ issues ensuring we had a balanced and thoughtful final script. They go above and beyond when it comes to their work and are clearly very passionate about what they do. We were extremely lucky to have Rowan onboard for this project and we cannot recommend them highly enough." – Zhang & Knight, Directors of Qweens Speech (2019), produced by Acne Studios for Dazed Magazine

"I had the privilege of working with Rowan (2015-2017) as part of the Trans Workgroup tasked with drafting a Trans Inclusion Statement [for] ... the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK which has been adopted by the psy-professions in the UK. ... Rowan modelled accountability, and inclusive consultation, as they were representing the Nonbinary Inclusion Project. 

Rowan was encouraging, patient, reliable, and responsive in all of their communications, definitely qualities which are important when trying to draft a sensitive statement on inclusion under time pressure. 

It was a pleasure to work with Rowan, and their collaboration really helped move the project forward." – Kris Black, member of the committee now known as the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy