Transgender Manga Masterpost

by drewkun 2010

This is an expanding list of manga with transgender protagonists. Here, the term transgender is defined narrowly as the individuals who were assigned male/female at birth but don’t identify as such. There are plenty of gender bender manga out there but very few that explore the issue at hand seriously, with respect towards gender identity. This list is ambitious of shedding more light to non-comedy, ‘slice-of-life’ trans titles that can be read in English and help trans folk find good representations in this medium. If you encounter a title fitting here, please leave a comment to let me know and I’ll add it.

Many thanks to Niki Smith who pointed out more titles! Also, to Ash from Experiments in Manga for the review of Kissing the Petals from Yuri Monogatari by Tomomi Nakasora!

I’ll procede with just the titles for those not liking spoilers and after the jump you can read comments for every title and some general remarks.

  • Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) by Takako Shimura (15 vols)
  • Bokura no Hentai by Fumi Fumiko (5 vol -ongoing)
  • Paros no Ken by Kaoru Kurimoto and Igarashi Yumiko (3 vols)
  • Double House by Nanae Haruno (1 vol)
  • Claudine  by Riyoko Ikeda (1 vol)
  • IS by Rokuhana Chiyo (17 vols)
  • Cotton Candy Love by Tendou Kirin (oneshot)
  • Ayumi and Aika from Mermaid Line by Kindaichi Renjuurou (2 chapters)
  • Love Horizon from Densen Complex by Kizuki Akira (oneshot)
  • So I Can Be Myself -A Long Dream– from Mascara Blue by Sakisaki Io (oneshot)
  • Flower from Boku wa, Onnanoko by Takako Shimura (oneshot)
  • Dreams Bloom At Night from Yes, It’s Me! by Yamashita Tomoko (oneshot)
  • Apron and Sunglasses from Please God by Minami Q-ta (oneshot)
  • Kissing the Petals from Yuri Monogatari by Tomomi Nakasora (oneshot)

Other dubious recommendations:

  • Udagawachou de Mattete yo. by Hideyoshico (1 vol)
  • J no Subete by Nakamura Asumiko (2 vols)
  • Half and Half by Nanami Mao (2 vols)
  • Houkago Hokenshitsu (After School Nightmare) by Mizushiro Setona (10 vols)

General remarks: If you notice the list, you’ll see that most titles come from yuri or (het) shoujo magazines. They concern trans girls/women, probably because the mangaka writing for such an audience is expected/allowed to focus on feelings and the romantic aspect of a relationship. We have very few titles coming from yaoi magazines and those that we found are problematic, in the sense that they misgender the trans character by focusing just on the sex between two individuals with penises. Beyond this superficial aspect, it is very hard to find a narrative in yaoi where crossdressing isn’t played for laughs or used as a fetish. There are other cases where the trans’ identity might be recognized at first but ultimately the woman goes back to ‘being a boy’ for the sake of the gay partner; for instance Kumota Haruko’s Mimi-kun no Heart no Earrings from the anthology Nobara.


Beginning from the end of my list, I want to explain why I put these four titles as dubious recommendations. For starters, they contain transmisogyny and depictions of very triggering situations like rape.

2169-1Houkago Hokenshitsu‘s protagonist appears to be trans, as indicated within their dreams, and have struggles with their gender identity which resemble that of a trans individual, but at the end of the story we are presented with a plot twist which cancels that identity. I still decided to include it in this article, though, because this ‘cancellation’ is not offensive in the same way I mentioned before in yaoi manga and because for many volumes this identity and the anguish it causes are among the story’s main themes. This is given in a surreal way and at the same time they hit home realistically.

cover (1)Half and Half is leaning towards romcom, but thankfully Itsuki (the transwoman) isn’t presented as a joke. Although there’s a lot of misgendering, graffiti bullying and rude questions towards her, we also witness her brother inviting her to his wedding and announcing he’s proud of his sister. Also, we are shown another youngster feeling gender dysphoria and Itsuki shows her her previous work place to get a taste of both the good and bad in the future; emphasis is given on the satisfaction of using female pronouns and it’s all very touching. When all is said and done Itsuki is still a woman and tries being into a relationship with Hina who loved her since Itsuki was still AMAB. There’s a lot of pondering from Hina’s side who wants to accept her loved one as she is and the manga ends with their relationship being a work in progress, because primarily they love each other’s company. Despite the pacing being a bit all over the place and the chapter where Hina competes with another woman for Itsuki is very stereotypically shoujo, it’s not half bad a reading.

imagesJ No Subete has a protagonist who does say firmly she is a woman, yet she is constantly misgendered despite her protests against it. There’s a lot of violence exerted on her and at the end of the story in an extra chapter we see her in men’s clothes and referred as male; it’s one of the cases where we have to get a yaoi couple. I’m also cautious with this title because it implies a connection between J’s transgenderism with her father’s habit to dress her in girl clothes as well as with the fact he abused her sexually for some time before her mother, who didn’t show her love, caught them on the act and killed her husband. Nevertheless, we talk about Nakamura with her great grim dark stories and her poetic sensitivities.

coverUdagawachou de Mattete yo. is great in that it doesn’t have a cute, passing trans girl as main character. Alas, the boy who falls for her almost bullies her into dressing in girl clothes and makes it more about him (is it a fetish?) than about her expressing herself. One may claim that Momose’s behavior is realistic, being perplexed at what he found out about his classmate, about his feelings of arousal and romantic interest, his curiosity and his akwardness when he tries to act based on them, but Yoshiro thinks of him as crazy scary. And justifiably so, considering that Momose stares at them persistently, stalks them, orders them around to dress in ‘stolen’ clothes of his sister, blackmails them, kisses them forcefully, grabs them from their wrist and almost rapes them. The concept of consent is hazy for adults much more for teens, but this doesn’t make things less cring-worthy. Plus even Yoshiro mixes homosexuality with gender identity and their want for submission. At least, there’s some consideration put from Momose’s side and things have a happy end.


Now, from the main list only the first two and IS are many-volumed series with a big cast and they are the ones who handle this topic in the most sensitive way up to date. I have reviewed IS along with Double House, Ayumi and Aika in this post.



Hourou Musuko, which is published in English by Fantagraphics in a marvelous hardback edition, is what Sailor Moon is to mahou shoujo, namely it’s the one big title for this niche. It spans from the late years of primary school to the first of university and thus allows for the reader to see the protagonists grow up and face the challenges life tosses at them. It has a variety of trans girls/women, with different sexual preferences, bodies and family situations, thus avoiding tokenism and the trap of the single narrative. Unfortunately, the mangaka chose to turn the only character who is presented as a trans boy, back to being to a girl again towards the end. There’s some usefulness in this development, as we see how a few individuals’ gender identity is questioned for a period of time, how they feel they betray others but the outcome is what it is and it’s acceptable. I’m still not very fond of that change though due to the probability of the reader jumping to conclusions (eg. ‘gender dysphoria for girls is just a phase’) and because rarely do we get to see a FtM character in manga.

Shimura crafts a story which balances the specific worries of trans characters and the general adolescent woes. Romance occurs like it does in real life, as a side of it and not its entirety -thankfully, secondary characters get to fall in love too. Adults are not there only a misunderstanding figures, but as helpful people who go through their own procedure of self-questioning. It’s quite refreshing. Shimura also has a particular love for theater (we see plenty of it in Aoi Hana, too, and Awashima Hyakkei is dedicated to an opera school) and used it in this series makes for an interesting commentary on the performativity of gender as well as a contrast between theater as a safe space of acting out a dream and reality.



Bokura no Hentai translates into Our Transformations –for those who saw the word ‘hentai’ in the title and wondered why I listed such a work here, there’s your answer. And it’s not only the title misleading; it’s the cute exterior, too. The artwork is quintessentially moe but much like the first covers which featured a black background, this story is dark at points. Warning should be given for sexual abuse and harassment, rape attempt, manipulative relationships, dealing with loss of a family member, bullying and self-destructive behavior. Additionally, it’s unabashedly sincere when it comes to sexuality and gender. Queering gender has multiple faces and each of the characters who wear girl clothes has their own distinct reasons. It’s also the first manga I’ve had the chance to come across where there’s a clear distinction between crossdressing and dressing towards one’s gender. Moreover, the trans MC has a female name she chose for herself. This raises the bar of such narratives a lot.

I adore Fumi’s style and storytelling; they are gorgeous, minimalistic and evocative. Some pages and panels could adorn a wall. Following the way Hourou Musuko paved, Fumi writes honestly about characters’ puberty, their sexual awakening, bodies and relationships. I was happily surprised to see a chapter about a side character and how she experienced having big breasts. In contrast to Hourou Musuko though, the way the chapters follow one another and focus on the background stories of different individuals from the cast underlines the solitarity of their experiences and her art with the solid, thick at places, lines gives extra weight to their harsh realities. I can’t weave enough praise.


News13419Paros no Ken or The Sword of Paros is a title which creates in me mixed feelings. The protagonist, Princess Erminia, says multiple times in the manga that she was ‘cursed’ by Yanus and born in a female body, while they consider themselves better than any man when looking in their mind and heart. They are very glad to have found a woman, Fiona, who accepts and loves them as they are and they rejoice when Fiona sees them as prince. My qualms come from the fact that they never ask for a man’s name and their disatisfaction is very tightly knitted with the limitations society places upon men. Despite that, sexual preference and gender identity used not to be perceived as different concepts back then. Thus, it’s almost a safe bet we have a trans man character here or at least a queer one.

The story is about Princess Erminia falling in love with Fiona, a maid, while she constantly fends off male suitors and resists the pressure from her royal family to act like the princess she is. Yurias, a man from aristocratic descent who was raised as her brother, is a debatably good ally who aids them in pursuing their happiness. Things get a little complicated with a neighboring country invading, but at least the main trio has a happy ending. Trigger warning for rape, misogyny and transphobia.


claudine_1a_000aRiyoko Ikeda loves telling stories of girls in men’s roles, considering her masterpiece, Rose of Versailles, and other works of hers like Orpheus no Mado, but Claudine isn’t a crossdresser or even a butch lesbian. Claude, as the other children called him, chooses to wear men’s clothes and have hobbies deemed manly. We also know from his last conversation with the psychiatrist his mother wanted him to visit that his nature didn’t have to do neither with his adoration towards his father nor with the fact he witnessed his father with a younger male lover. Written back at the 1970s, this is extremely progressive. Sadly, after getting betrayed by his love who let him for his brother, he committed suicide. As a story, it’s pretty rushed in pace. Nevertheless, its progressiveness  by the standards of the era it was written should be recognized.



Cotton Candy Love is a very sweet story of a little trans girl and an adult lesbian woman. The latter scares away some kids bullying the former and thus they become acquainted. It’s well told -as expected from a title coming from Tsubomi magazine- and shows two people from different points in life coming together with the only thing in common being perserverance. Pronouns, suffixes and challenges are discussed and we also get a glimpse of the rejection the adult woman received from her ex.

Densen_Complex_ch09_p02Love Horizon stands out for its angular and bold artwork but it’s a little bit clumsy as a story. On the other hand, it’s quite informative since the question “since when are you a girl?” is answered straightforwardly and there’s mention of the surgery and of a female name. Love Horizon is basically a reunion and the start of a relationship of a trans woman and her former classmate. I’d recommend it to cis folks as quick intro to trans stuff to become more aware. Though it’s gender dysphoria and gender identity disorder is avoided nowadays, since it’s not listed anymore as a mental illness -gladly.

137So I Can Be Myself -A Long Dream– is a love story. Hikaru is asked by a hairdresser, Mashima, to help him practice cutting hair. Little by little they fall in love with each other and Mashima asks her out. It’s a very simple story by the mangaka of Ao Haru Ride, but it’s all the small details that make it heart-warming. We see Hikaru being supported by her friends in romance, in her way of living and when she goes to the women’s toilet, which is contrasted by the hate and pettiness of random bystanders. If we try to forget that awful translation of gender dysphoria as gender ‘lesion’, this short is a good dose of hope.

chana.04Flower is about Yuki, a transwoman who was featured in Hourou Musuko, too. She travels by train to go visit her parents who want to give her an earful for starring at a TV show. On the train she meets a man who groped her while thinking he was asleep and who has a record of cheating his wife. The story is half about meeting this man and chatting him on the way home and half about her reconciliation with her parents being a long hard way -fortunately, her brother and his wife are totally cool with her. One thing that stood out to me was how Yuki is glad she’s passing and how non-chalantly she says that another trans-woman was murdered upon being outed.

syes_it_s_me_c007_137Dreams Bloom At Night (read and buy it at emanga) is about gender stereotypes and exploration. I think more than anything this is a story that shows how much non-sense trans individuals have to face. First thing we read is a lady coming out to her female friend and having to deal with a lot of assumptions, rude questions and showing off ‘knowledge’. She is shown to be Tone’s, the protagonist, customer. Tone wanted to become a girl and her mother seems understanding since she caught her with a lipstick, but she doesn’t dress towards her gender. What we see instead is a former sex buddy pushing her to get married as the ‘serious thing’ to be done, her boyfriend rejecting the prospect of Tone ‘becoming’ a woman, and her female androgynous co-worker not wanting to hear something so personal. The latter adds that the notion of gender is the one causing us pain and that Tone should apply again make up on ‘himself’. Although I have certain objections to the dialogue between Tone and Misaki, it’s still a very interesting reading.

4894-Apron and Sunglasses_IJTQQ-please_god087Apron and Sunglasses is a glimpse in the life of a transwoman who barhopped with a guy and woke up with him in the same room. He finds her very attractive and he had the decency not to drunk-rape her. She dismissed him because she had a boyfriend, but she soon changes her mind as said boyfriend dumped her. If anything, this oneshot is worthy because Yuka is one hell dynamic woman and I love her spirit!

YM4Kissing the Petals is a short manga by Tomomi Nakasora that was published in the fourth volume of Yuri Monogatari, an anthology which collects lesbian-themed comics from Japan, America, and Europe. The manga includes a rare example of a transman as a prominent character. The story is told from the perspective of a lesbian couple who are his close friends. Chii’s family isn’t understanding of his decision to transition, but Haruna and Kazu are wonderfully supportive and accepting, even going as far as trying to help him find a girlfriend, which he desperately wants. Though Kissing the Petals is honest about some of the challenges that a transperson faces in life, especially in regards to relationships (romantic and otherwise), overall the manga’s tone is a positive one.


24 thoughts on “Transgender Manga Masterpost

  1. How about Ai no Shintairiku (fictional) and Hanayome wa Motodanshi (autobiography), and then there’s a some in Kyou Kara Yonshimai. There’s also GID (ongoing though, if I remember right)


  2. Well there’s also second puberty which is a mixed trans web manga . They are mostly based from exaggerated feelings and true events of trans

    Gid is a comic by yoko shoji and that’s Ftm and more realistic


  3. Got a possible post of interest here:

    Your mileage may vary on the post’s musings on Genshiken Nidaime’s cross-dressing character, but starting at the paragraph with “The contrast between what Genshiken could do” is a section exploring two old manga that may have unintentionally touched on trans concerns. “Family Compo” seems to be of note, while “Stop! Hibari-Kun!” seems more in the Ranma mold of incidental relevance.
    I’d say the paragraph starting with “Watch this mini documentary” is the last paragraph before the post returns to its Genshiken analysis.


    • I haven’t followed Genshiken Nidaime because I wasn’t very fond of the first series, so I couldn’t really follow what the guy was rambling on and on.
      I’m aware of Hibari-kun but as you say yourself, it isn’t a very good portrayal. I thought of Family Compo as just another comedy, but it seems I judged it unfairly. I’ll give it a 2nd chance.


  4. There’s a horror-mystery manga called Yuureitou that takes place in 1952 during the Showa Era in which a clueless jobless man in his twenties visits a ghost tower to find some treasure. He is almost killed after being tied to a clock but a mysterious man saves him and tells him to help him investigate the ghost tower since a murder supposedly took place there where a woman supposedly killed her mother after an argument. This man turns out to have many secrets, including the fact that he is transgender, which is revealed in the early-middle chapters and is explored in the mid-chapters. From the reviews I read made by trans people, this trans man is supposedly written well from a psychological perspective, since the writer does discuss discrimination against trans people, rejection from those they confess their love to, gender dysphoria, and the writer never comes up with a plot contrivance that reveals that the trans man now identifies as a cis woman, unlike other manga such as Wandering Son. Another main character does start crossdressing in the middle of the manga, but it isn’t because he has a sexual fetish. It’s because he feels freer and more comfortable dressing like a woman, although not identifying as one. Through this character, the writer starts to explore male privilege from the perspective of a man who is perceived as a woman for a short time. The writer does also tackle gender roles through various characters throughout the story, which makes this manga different and more realistic than other “gender bender” genre manga. However, one of the problems this manga has is that it has pornagraphic art of the female body (ecchi), which is most often found on the beginning of the chapters, probably to advertise the manga to male viewers since this a seinen manga. Unfortunately, the subject of the ecchi art is the trans man himself. There is also seems to be misinformation on how testosterone medication affects one’s body, since the character does start to have a higher voice after running out of medication and is still drawn with “female” proportions. Since not many have heard of this manga, I encourage viewers to try this manga and form their own opinions about how these issues are handled.


    • Thanks a lot for your comment! I am aware of the title and from what you point out it’s a very legimate addition in this list (perhaps in the dubious section due to the hormone inaccuracies) but since I piss on my pants with horror stories I kinda wait Neko-chi to read and review it.


  5. Does “Himegoto – Juukyuusai no Seifuku” count? None of the characters are fully trans, but it does deal pretty heavily with gender fluidity. There are still some problematic elements coming from the characters all being inexperienced teenagers growing up in a fully conservative society, (Nice Guy and victim-blaming) but I wonder if some of it is Unreliable Narrator at play. I wouldn’t trust advice from any of these fucked up younguns.
    I’d put it under dubious recommendations, depending on where the manga goes in the future.

    And Okazu is finding Torikaebaya pretty good.


    • Oh thanks for pointing out Himegoto. I’ll surely take a look. The summary seems promicing!

      I’m aware of Torikaebaya, but it’s not available in English in any format, and here I try listing things that most people can read and have access, too. The same goes with some other works from the mangaka of Honey & Honey. I don’t think anyone is obligated to or can afford to learn Japanese after all.


    • I’ve caught up to where it’s translated up until now and I can’t thank you enough for the great recommendation. I’d like to have more material to read though before it ends up here. Kaito seems to crossdress as a sexual fetish at the start but as the story goes they keep repeating they are a girl, so I wonder if that means the mangaka hasn’t decided yet how to write them or doesn’t have a clue… If Kaito’s behavior is more of a paraphilia, I’d rather not have it in this list, because otherwise I’ll have to expand it for crossdressing which would put me through reading tons and tons of manga labeled as gender-benders/ crossdressing. But the manga is fascinating enough for me to review it separately at some point.


      • NPR ran a feature a while back about how the new generation in some places are forgoing gender entirely, or formulating new genders of their own. In that sense, they can have gender dysphoria, but not be trans, as they don’t identify with the opposite gender, either. That’s the sense I kind of get from this manga, for Kaito and Mikako. (Yuki is just suffering from social pressures, rather than gender dysphoria.)

        Kaito’s is obvious, (and it touches on how gender and sexuality are independent) but Mikako’s interests me for its implications. Some people may have gender and/or sexuality fluidity, and if such people grow up in more conservative environments, they may not recognize, much less embrace, their queer natures, but enact their suppressed traits in ways in line with their socially acceptable gender/sexuality. Mikako has alpha-male instincts for domination, (and with regards to Yuki, the traditionally male instinct for protection) but as a strategizing mind, recognizes that in her current environment, that she has tactical advantages in her biologically female (and young-looking) body, which she may not have as a male. But at the same time, she’s still very aware of the limitations of her approach, and resents them. I’m reminded of the Marquise de Merteuil in “Dangerous Liaisons.” Mikako is queer enough that she needs to act out, but fluid enough that she’s not yet rejecting her culturally-given identity, rather manipulating it.

        But it’s clear that the mangaka is more interested in developing Kaito and normalizing Yuki, so I’m not optimistic about Mikako down the line being any more than cray-cray man-eater evil lesbian.


        • Hm, I didn’t view Mikako as a cray-cray man-eater evil lesbian, probably because she does enjoy sex with men and her view of Yuki was one of an “innocent boy”. Just because she likes domination, I don’t think that implies alpha male insticts and I find such logic tad sexist tbh (women aren’t supposed to lust and have desire to order around?). She’s quite femme to even make association with anything ‘masculine’ about her. Perhaps she’s bi? But ultimately I’d like her as well as the other characters to talk about how they view themselves. If the mangaka really aspires to insert some sexuality and gender politics in her work, I’m expecting her not to let readers label her characters but the characters define themselves.

          Btw, what do you mean Kaito is obvious?


          • I agree that alpha = male is sexist, but that’s the sense of authorial intent I get with regards to Mikako. She doesn’t fit into her current environment because she has a desire for domination, which her culture will deny her in the long run because of her biological gender.
            The art also casts her as classically deranged-evil whenever she thinks about exerting her control over Yuki, so again, while I don’t want her character development to go in that direction, I get the impression that she will. It also enforces how Mikako is violating traditional gender roles, by casting her intent to “protect” Yuki as a perversion of romance. If Mikako were a male, those same controlling tendencies would make her into a Jerkass With a Heart of Gold, that height of romantic desirability.
            I return to Dangerous Liaisons, and here are the two main quotes that make me associate it with Mikako: 1, 2 And indeed, the Marquise gets slut-shamed by the public for her machinations later, whereas fellow male manipulator Valmont only needs show a ounce of remorse to be forgiven for the same transgressions. What this demonstrates is that while we may not consider alpha instincts to be a male thing now, in a more conservative society, they would be. So Mikako is aesthetcally femme, but is facing societal resistance to her contextually masculine and contextually gender-inappropriate desires for dominance. In feminism, the reaction is to reclaim what was previously only male territory into gender-neutral territory, but in the past, as shown here, the female instead wished to be a man, for his male privileges.
            Without that angle, she’s just a manipulative female battling ageism, not her gender, and doesn’t fit in thematically with Kaito and Yuki as a fellow protagonist. That’s why I interpreted it the way I did.

            To me, the story seems to be about how some kids of the new generation are moving towards the agender orientation, but exploring what happens when those kids have to grow up in a conservative environment that strictly enforces gender roles, as well as a “biology = gender and sexuality” society.
            Kaito is the obvious example of this theme, as he wants to be aesthetically female, but does not consider himself a lesbian in his sexual desires, and doesn’t mind scolding Yuki as both a male and her girl friend. Kaito has gender dysphoria because society is impressing upon him that he is violating his roles dictated by biology, but is not rejecting his biology, either. It’s also interesting that he isn’t about just dressing as a female version of himself, but specifically emulating Mikako, which indicates that it’s not that he identifies as female, but that he idollizes (the public persona of) Mikako in a way that males in his environment are not allowed to do. It’s akin to people who crossplay, which is more about independence from personal biology than rejection of it. Hence agender vs. trans.
            (I know this risks being insensitive to trans issues, or even trans erasure, so let me know if I’m overstepping a line.)


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  9. Regarding Bokura no Hentai, the author’s notes to V1 pretty clearly implies that it should be translated Our Metamorphosis (which is also one of the meanings of “hentai”). This is one of those series I’d love to see licensed in English but it’s never going to happen…

    Regarding BL manga, I think looking for trans people as main characters in BL is a low-yield proposition. BL is interested in femininity and gender-nonconformity in men, specifically, so the main characters are ultimately going to be men, regardless of how much genderbending is going on otherwise. (Trans people do sometimes show up as side characters, although usually in bit parts.) As to crossdressing in BL being a fetish, well, there’s lots of heterosexual shoujo with crossdressing guys, and I don’t think BL treats the subject all that differently. A guy can be hot in a dress and still be a guy, to himself and to others.


    • Thanks for pointing this out!

      “so the main characters are ultimately going to be men”- Wwhy can’t it be a trans man?

      “As to crossdressing in BL being a fetish, well, there’s lots of heterosexual shoujo with crossdressing guys, and I don’t think BL treats the subject all that differently.” – Oh, it does. When we talk about fetishes, there’s sexual arousal involved. That’s not the case for heterosexual shoujo. We don’t get storylines where a girl/women wants to bed another person who crossdresses, because girls/women rarely are represented having sexual urges and taking the initiative. Cases of crossdressers I can think from the top of my head in hetero shoujo are Oscar from Rose of Versailles, Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi and Kuranosuke from Kuragehime. Not a single one of them is the object of lust due to their crossdressing. In contrast in BL men in lingerie dress up to get another man aroused or they are lusted because of this habit/hobby of theirs. I won’t forget Kumota’s Be Here To Love Me where she wrote a character who puts on high heels and distanced himself from ‘those trannies’. She really went out of her way to be despicable…

      Welcome to our blog, by the way!


      • Sorry this is long, I’m not good at being concise:

        “Why can’t it be a trans man?”

        Because one of the drivers behind BL as a genre is dissatisfaction with normative masculinity; the point of almost all genderbending in BL is to have a male-bodied, male-identified person who violates conventional gender expectations, and is attractive and desirable because of it. Having the character be a non-masculine trans man wouldn’t have the same effect; their gender non-normativity could be interpreted as a function of their biological sex rather than direct defiance of gender norms.

        “When we talk about fetishes, there’s sexual arousal involved. That’s not the case for heterosexual shoujo. We don’t get storylines where a girl/women wants to bed another person who crossdresses, because girls/women rarely are represented having sexual urges and taking the initiative.”

        I think you haven’t been reading the right shoujo. 🙂 Among het shoujo series where crossdressing male love interests are presented as sexy, both to the reader and to the female lead, see Tenshi Ja Nai! (formerly available in English but now OOP), W Juliet (print version of English edition OOP but available for Kindle), Ai Ore! (available in English; be warned that because it’s a Mayo Shinjo manga the male lead is a jerk despite being petite and cute and the female lead is a doormat despite being tall and cool-looking), and one of my favorites, Usotsuki Lily (available in French and German), which is unusual for the premise because the male lead crossdresses by preference, rather than for some plot-related reason, even though he’s quite clear that he’s a guy. (Here’s a scan of the cover of the French edition of V1 with the male lead in all his miniskirted glory. The hint of thigh cracks me up – fanservice ahoy!) These are mostly fairly tame (although the first half of Ai Ore ran in ShoComi and consequently gets a little raunchy), but the guys are intended to be hot and there are plenty of opportunities to ogle them. (There’s another series that ran in ShoComi that got kinda smutty but I can’t recall the title offhand…)

        As for Be Here To Love Me, “tranny” is translating “okama”, which is slightly hard to translate because although it’s usually primarily interpreted as referring to campy drag queen types, it can cover everything from femme-y gay men through to trans women (in the English edition of Wandering Son it’s translated as “faggot”, which I think has the wrong connotation for the context – “tranny” would have been better there). What’s-his-face objecting to being classified as an “okama” doesn’t necessarily mean that the author was trying to insult trans women.

        I agree that Japanese media isn’t very good at distinguishing between feminine/gay/camp/trans, and BL does have its share of eye-rolling “comedy” okama side characters or bit-parters, but it is nonetheless generally sympathetic towards them; for example, Bad Teacher’s Equation, which features several stereotypical, comedic drag queens / trans women in its sitcom ensemble cast, but treats them as part of the gang and gives them some stuff to do – although mainly in service of the main character’s relationship. BL does have some non-comedic trans characters in supporting positions, like Kouki’s coworker/boss in Hinako Takanaga’s Liberty Liberty!, or Depression of the Anti-Romanticist which has a (very brief) discussion of a trans woman coming out to her parents.


        • “Because one of the drivers behind BL as a genre is dissatisfaction with normative masculinity” – I’ve seen plenty reversible manga which don’t future necessarily effeminate men, but I understand your point, especially when it comes to the obsession with anatomy. What I say tough is that a trans man does defy normative masculinity, just not in a way perhaps that most female readers would care to read. It’s just the fact that BL don’t contain necessarily sex, so I’d expect that there’d be at least one such work. Then again most cis people aren’t very aware of trans folks.

          As for the titles you pinpointed, I admit I haven’t looked at them and you make interesting suggestions, so I’ll take a look for sure.


          • “I’ve seen plenty reversible manga which don’t future necessarily effeminate men”

            The guys in BL don’t necessarily have to be girly, but even if they are more-or-less gender-normative there tends to be an emphasis on emotional state and mutual caretaking that goes against Japanese standards of masculinity, which prize stoicism and self-reliance. Het shoujo does this also, to an extent, but it is limited by the fact that one of the characters is necessarily a girl, which pushes the male lead into a more normative role; it’s much more rare for a leading man in het shoujo to allow himself to be taken care of and protected by his partner than the comparable scenario in BL.

            “What I say tough is that a trans man does defy normative masculinity,”

            Yes, but in the wrong way. To oversimplify a bit, BL is interested in the MtF direction; the FtM direction is more a function of yuri/GL.

            It must be said that Japan has not really gotten its head around male-to-lesbian-woman or female-to-gay-man trans people; even some trans communities in Japan demand heterosexuality as a part of being a “true” transgendered person and insist MtLF and FtGM are just fetishes.

            “just not in a way perhaps that most female readers would care to read.”

            I don’t know about that; butchy otokoyaku types are very popular, and I’d think readers would be OK with pushing that over into male identity. As you are aware, there are few stories about trans people of any kind, but I think that the comparative rareness of stories about trans men might stem in part from the lower profile IRL for FtM trans folks than for MtF, which in turn is in part because Japan’s comparatively rigid gender hierarchy makes “becoming a woman” a more plausible and comprehensible idea than “becoming a man” from the point of view of the mainstream. (Not that this doesn’t also apply to the West.)

            I’m glad you’re interested in the manga I mentioned. Have fun reading! (And nice blog, BTW.)


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