gender variance Tag

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  • “If I Was Born As A Girl…”: Transfeminine desire in Stop!! Hibari-Kun

    Stop!! Hibari-kun treads plenty of expected ground when it comes to teenage romantic comedy because, at its core, the narrative is cut from the same striped cloth as Urusei Yatsura. A boy is faced with a strong-willed girl, but resists her feelings for some convenient narrative reason. Said boy tries his best to not fall for the girl, as an eccentric supporting cast cause mischief and lay down narrative contrivances. Over time, the boy comes to love the girl despite himself, and has to hide how much he actually does like her.
    However, Hibari isn’t an alien in a bikini or a widowed landlady—she’s a trans teenager.

  • The trans resonance of Haibane Renmei

    The series’ use of transformation and body horror resonate with the physical experiences of dysphoria and transitioning; its depictions of mental health struggles, particularly self-harm and suicide, may find special meaning with trans audiences; it thematically explores names as potential sources of both trauma and self-actualization; and the characters of Haibane Renmei strive to build a safe community that promotes healing and growth. Yet I have never seen this two-decade-old series discussed through a trans lens, despite the wealth of potential it has to offer. That ends today.

  • Finding models of healthy masculinity in BL manga

    In retrospect, I recognize those first fanfics as something that let me safely imagine myself as a boy in a relationship with another boy. That desire to find media that would let me project myself into the positions of these male characters was what led me to discover BL.

  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure actor Tiana Camacho discusses her favorite shoujo and systemic casting hurdles for actors of color

    Vrai sat down with Camacho at Otakon 2022 to ask her about her influences, her dream role, and the expectation put on marginalized public figures to act as educators.

  • “I am a shadow… The true self…”: Identity and social norms in Persona 4 Golden

    Ultimately, the game universe makes clear that “facing yourself” is more concerned about fitting into society than personal growth. And though individual characters may seem to subvert normative expectations of gender and sexuality, the game ultimately reifies those roles, forcing all characters into societal norms that stand contrary to the glimpses of their more rebellious authentic selves.

  • Carole & Tuesday director Hori Motonobu on the series’ writing process and trans characters

    The series saw praise for its well-characterized Black heroine, optimistic outlook and its swing-for-the-fences tale of pushing back against injustice (including a spot in our 2019 recs list). At the same time, it’s received its share of criticism for the way that core optimism lends itself toward over-simplification of fraught issues, as well as its stumbles in portraying Black masculinity and queer and trans characters.

  • “Differences Die At The Door”: A post-mortem of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop

    Few adaptations miss the point of their source material as brazenly as Christopher Yost’s series. There are many avenues to critique it from, ranging from casting decisions to direction to the script itself, and much ink has already been spilled on all of these. But it’s prudent to get even more granular. If we trace each individual influence behind both Bebops, the fundamental failings of the Netflix show become even more apparent.

  • Ribbons for the Win: Battling internalized misogyny with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl

    I watched Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl during elementary and middle school, and Dawn became one of my all-time favorite characters. This might seem a little strange given that Dawn was a girl who loved pink and dresses, while I was a girl who rejected all things feminine, including my “girly” classmates. However, I realize now that I adored her so much because she challenged my conceptions of what femininity could be.

  • Strength Unsaid: How Moribito’s main characters normalize gender equality

    The roles and characterization of main characters Balsa, Tanda, and Prince Chagum make gender equality seem natural, and therefore powerful, even if their story takes place in a patriarchal system.

  • How shoujo manga helps me grapple with internalized misogyny

    I’ve been a fan of shoujo manga for 20 years, and for much of that, I’ve been fighting to get other manga readers to take it more seriously. I even started a podcast, Shojo & Tell, where I talk to other fans and industry professionals about it. Even so, the word “shoujo” for me evokes knee-jerk stereotypes and assumptions that I have to consciously fight against.

  • Unsung Heroes: The women of The Heike Story

    The creators of The Heike Story go a step further beyond tribute with the character of Biwa: by presenting her as the epic’s original author-performer, the anime adaptation places the theme of female agency front and center in what is otherwise a male-centric work.

  • Clothes Make the Guardian: Fashion and femininity in the Sailor Moon franchise

    The silhouettes and clothing styles from the original 1990s Sailor Moon anime, as well as the manga, are consistent and intentional. What is feminine becomes something powerful. Unfortunately, this idea doesn’t carry through to much of modern Sailor Moon media. The new adaptations betray the purposeful fashion of the original series in a way that undermines the story’s overall gender commentary.

  • I Like Your Style: How The Prince of Tennis helped me shape my butch fashion sense

    I studied storefront displays too, the Aeropostale mannequin sporting the same dress as my lab partner. What did my peers see in these clothes that I couldn’t? I didn’t know, but I hated it: clothes, fashion, school, my classmates, all of it. I was better than the other girls. Fashion was shallow. I’d stick to tennis and The Prince of Tennis instead.
    Toxic thinking? Absolutely. But in 2006 I didn’t know better.

  • Pregnancy as the pinnacle of womanhood in TSF porn

    Though inherently absurd once verbalized, “Abenime” are stories that speak to a nation’s plight. They are designed to manufacture consent by defining baby making as the norm. Women can make babies; ipso facto, their role in saving Japanese society lies in buffering the ever-shrinking population with young, healthy babies who will carry on the nation in the future.
    And while this attitude reaches public discourse by way of popular entertainment, it also likewise prevails within narratives not often discussed out in the open.

  • Queer Subtext and Representation in Kamen Rider

    Much of the franchise’s homoeroticism is a result of the franchise’s severe gender disparity, which it has only recently taken steps to address; the series took 31 years to get its first female Kamen Rider. There have also been canonically gay, transgender and nonbinary characters, but the quality of representation is questionable. Regardless, many LGBTQ+ viewers have seen their own experiences reflected in the many characters of Kamen Rider, whether implicitly or explicitly.

  • Genderless Gemstones: The pros and cons of Land of the Lustrous as non-binary representation

    In the discussion surrounding queer representation in fiction, things are not always so simple as stamping a work with “good rep” or “bad rep”. While the series is not perfect—or perhaps because the series is not perfect—Land of the Lustrous makes a useful case study for reading and critiquing through a queer lens.

  • My Fave is Problematic: Yu Yu Hakusho

    The lovable characters have kept me hooked on Yu Yu Hakusho for the past 18 years, in addition to the “fight your enemies head on and defeat them through raw power and sheer force of will” storyline that will always be a guilty pleasure of mine. Although these elements make it worth the rewatch even now, my love for this anime hasn’t completely blinded me to its flaws. Yu Yu Hakusho, unfortunately, overtly and subtly fails its female characters time and again.

  • Non-Binary Orochimaru and the homophobic legacy of queer-coded villainy

    From their first appearance disguised as a young woman to their dangly earrings and lilting English dub performance, Orochimaru carries many of the unfortunate hallmarks of a queer-coded antagonist, one whose most terrifying power includes the ability to inhabit the bodies of others in a bid for eternal life. Their portrayal, already mired in queerphobia, is complicated by the franchise’s later decision to portray Orochimaru as a character with a non-binary gender identity, the first canonically LGBTQ+ character in the franchise.

  • We need more licensed doujinshi

    I often want to share a cool story after reading it, but, as an avid reader of doujinshi, I find few outlets where I can share that passion. For all the interesting work indie publications can harbor, they are largely inaccessible to non-Japanese markets, making it difficult to share my passion with English fans.

  • Reading Code:Realize as Queer Allegory

    You wouldn’t expect an otome game like Code:Realize to have themes that resonate so strongly with common queer experiences. In many ways, the game follows genre conventions, with a heterosexual romance story following a singular heroine and a cast of attractive men. Yet it spoke to me, an enby transgender man, by exploring themes of inner discovery, found family, and self-love.