“The love that cannot speak its name” has long come out in streets in many countries around the world and talks in loud and prideful voice for itself. But queers aren’t only the L and the G or even the B in LGBT. What about the T? Or the I that is still missing in many occasions or gets represented by the Q. This post suggests manga that are about transgenderism and intersexuality. We shouldn’t forget these friends of us who go outside of binaries.
The latter accepted my invitation and offers kindly her opinion on the featured manga as well as some tips to the young members of the transgender family. Anya is the blogger over at Forty-Four Fennecs, a MtF herself, and is currently writing a novel, Sweets and Steel, which deals with sexuality and transgendered issues. Feel free to contact her, if you need to ask anything!
|What gender are the people on the cover? – Double House cover|
Mangaka: Nanae Haruno
What does gender matter? And why do we accept the social frames that are forced upon us? These questions are taken up when Maho, a male-to-female transsexual, saves Fujiko, a girl from a rich family who’s left home and is living on her own, one night, and the two become fast friends.
|Mermaid Line cover features the lesbian girl from the first story.|
Mermaid Line is a collection of stories that ran in Yuri Hime magazine. They are collected together as short mini-series, done in an episodic, almost soap-opera-y way.
In “Megumi and Aoi ” Megumi confesses to her friend Aoi that, despite her ungainly swimming, she feels as if she is a mermaid. Aoi finds herself fantasizing about being the prince to Megumi’s mermaid, but Megumi runs to the arms of a boy, trying to put a beard on her feelings.
Ayumi, in “Ayumi and Aika,” wants to get married to her boyfriend so naturally, she’s shocked when he tells her that he wants to become a woman.
“Yukari and Mayuko” are both OLs. Mayuko’s between boyfriends and bored, so she asks Yukari to pretend to be her girlfriend. It works out well, until Yukari realizes that her feelings for Mayuko are more than just pretend.
And finally, in “Miura-san and Me” Okabe loves Miura’s beautiful hair. When Miura-san cuts it all off, Okabe learns to love her for herself.
All the yuri couple stories in this anthology are well-made (apart from the last one that is totally dull) and leave a soft bitterness with their open ends which focus on unrequited love. But this post is dedicated to transgender characters and thus I’ll talk only about Ayumi and Aika, whose story is interestingly the exception from the overall theme and ends on a happy note.It’s really rare as it is to find a manga which doesn’t go overboard with silly depictions of crossdressers, transvestites and transsexuals, let alone one that centers on them being in a satisfactory relationship. Refreshing, tender, cute, serious, the story of Ayumi & Aika goes through the distinction between gender identity and sexual attraction, the fear of rejection that comes up very easily, the uneasiness of personal life stumbling on your working life, the braveness of coming out to yourself and to your most important people as well as its consequences, the perplexed issue of marriage and creating a family.It’s two chapters long, so why not try it? It won’t take much of your time and it’ll leave you with a sweet smile on your face!
|IS stands for Intersexuality.|
Mangaka: Rokuhana Chiyo
Volumes: 17 ( 13 scanlated)
IS (Pronounced Aiesu in Japanese) is not your everyday manga. This manga strictly deals with cases of intersexuality. IS stands for Inter Sexuality.
This manga deals with very serious issues concerning intersexual people. The pain they go through, the troubles they confront, and ultimately their inability to reproduce and even find a partner who will accept them as they are – It’s all there in a form of manga.
The series is consisted of cases, each dealing with different people – although some cases are much longer and more dramatic than others.
This society -for its convenience- works based on binaries. But the world isn’t a computer that works with 0s and 1s. There are people born in this world who don’t belong to neither gender and have mixed organs. It might sound like something out of a hentai scenario or out of mythology for those who know a bit of it (see Hermaphrodite) but it is very real and perhaps more of a horror/angst story to the person experiencing it. Our bodies are equally important to our souls; if the body has issues, the psychological development will be impeded. Just think about it: unless you can label yourself as male or female and belong to a group of people, unless you embrace this body that offers you pain as well as pleasure, unless there is a single thing sure about you, how can you go into love relationships, choose to go against stereotypes, make dreams and take decisions for the future? You might stay numb for a long time, because at an early age being ‘normal’ is very crucial for your socialization and construct of self.
I.S. means that every time you go to the bath or toilet you see contradicting features on your body. When you are in school, you don’t know to which toilet to go. You aren’t mentioned even as a possibility at biology class and you don’t know other kids like you as IS are born 1:2000. You are most probably unaware you were born with both sexes and that the doctors and/or your parents decided to modify your body, so you think that something is wrong with you when you don’t get your period even after middle school. You might think that you’ll grow out a penis, because you know inside you are a boy- but that doesn’t happen. If you get to know you are an IS at some point for your health’s sake, you’ll have to support your organism with either male or female hormones. And doctors and nurses just like parents aren’t always understanding and might see you with disgusted or curious eyes. Or even worse abuse you. These are just some of the tough topics that this manga deals with.
There are 3 cases of intersex people that IS: Otoko demo onna demo nai sei (IS: Not a Man, Not a Woman) examines, Hiromi, Ryoma and Haru, the two of which are examined in the first volume and the third occupies the rest 17 vols. In Haru’s case we see him growing up from when he was a just a baby to him becoming an adult. As Brain VS Books claims, after volume 13 things go wrong and the end is unsatisfactory. Yet all the volumes before are worth it and intersexuals aren’t mentioned in any other manga, or at least approached in a realistic, informative and touching way such as in Aiesu. We get to know how parents confront the news about their intersexed baby, their guilt, sadness, frustration, joy and what actions do they take. We witness these individuals learning to accept, defend and ultimately be proud of their bodies, finding support from friends (and family), facing their prejudiced parents and the society, seeking help in their online and real life community, and trying their best to realize their happiness.
Hi~! Anya here, and many thanks to Ayame for writing a post on this topic (and even dedicating it to me, oh my ^///^).
These are all interesting manga, and it’s reassuring to have a reminder that there are more people with similar issues out there. Having said that, from an entertainment point of view the first two are way too short, while in my opinion the third one gets too caught up in drama. They’re still definitely worth reading, and each of them touches on important issues that transgendered people must face.
Here’s some advice from me for some of the transgendered people out there who are still figuring themselves out and feeling unsure.
In Double House, Maho feels alienated by her coworkers that feel the need to adhere to certain stereotypes on what it means to be transgendered. This is not a universal aspect of trans communities, but it does happen in some places. Ironically and hypocritically, there will be people who reject society’s “rules” and “norms” only to put their own in place. You don’t have to listen to them. Figure out for yourself what kind of person you want to be, even if it includes stereotypes of your biological sex. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re already breaking a bunch of societal expectations, break a few more and build a kick-ass Gundam!
Ayumi was shocked to find out that her boyfriend wanted to be a girl, but it turns out that Aika still loves her and they continue their relationship with one another. A question I was often asked in my early days was “If you like girls, then why don’t you just stay as a guy? It’ll be a lot easier that way!”. Yeah, like lesbians don’t exist. Your gender doesn’t dictate who to date and fall in love with. Many transgendered people remain attracted to the gender that they become. Love whomever you want! I like girls. But I mainly focus on personality, so if he’s nice, I can fall in love with a guy, too. That’s also a good way to view the world, way more ‘fish in the sea’ ;).
Although I.S. deals with intersexed people, the issues are pretty similar to ones that we face. If I ever marry a man, I won’t be able to bear a child. There are many limits to our current medical technology, and even technologies and procedures that do exist, can be expensive. That is a reality you have to accept, and figure out how far you want to go for what you’re happy with. Also, like the above two issues, you don’t have to turn your body a certain way. It’s okay to be a girl with a penis. Punch anyone who says otherwise. You can keep your old body and still be a different gender. I myself used to be disgusted by my body, when I first accepted that I was transgendered, but over time I became more comfortable with it. And let’s face it, the ability to pee standing is very convenient, especially when you’re at a dirty gas station toilet.
I hope you become more comfortable with yourself, and remember, go beyond the impossible and kick reason -I mean societal expectations- to the curb!