Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender: #3
Sign #3: You squee with joy whenever you find a character in a movie or television show that genderbends. Even a little. Even if they don’t identify trans*.
This is one of those things that is so very true for me. It’s like when someone points out the subtext of a character arc in a popular television show and you suddenly can’t see the character any other way but the way they described. (This is how a lot of slash fandom sparks into being, actually. And I love it!) But, at least with me, once my mind has been opened to seeing variants of gender, I tend to see it more, or at least recognize it where I didn’t before.
My first exposure to genderbending characters was two-fold. My friends and I were into anime, which is chalk full of bending characters. Look at Nuriko in Fushigi Yuugi, who goes from presenting male as a child to assuming a feminine appearance (granted, for a lot of the wrong reasons), and then to a more slightly more masculine than neutral when he develops feelings for a female rather than his usual attraction to males. There’s also Mille Feuille in Sorcerer Hunters, who’s a delightful crossdresser who is sweet and feminine one moment before kicking ass as a Haz Knight. The other aspect of my exposure to genderbending came from movies my first couple years in college. We watched Normal in my Sociology of Sexuality class my sophomore year of college. It was the first of many films I sampled during college that expanded my mind. Others included Bent (there’s some genderbending in the opening scenes in Berlin), Cabaret (loved Alan Cumming), and Boys Don’t Cry (which was actually traumatizing, since I had NO idea that it was about a hate crime when I picked it up from Blockbuster years ago).
I squee when I watch television and see people in reality shows that are trans* or androgynous as well. AzMarie and Isis on America’s Next Top Model, for example, were a joy to watch, as was Cory in the more recent seasons with his androgynous look and ability to rock heels and drag. Other TV shows seem to give nods to the trans* community more in recent years, too, which is delightfully encouraging. Some depictions are better than others, but it’s great seeing them. The gender neutral Dr. Haru Tanaka on Bones makes most of the squints on the show take bets and try to respectfully determine what sex the doctor is. Of course, their attempts fail, so they rely on violating Tanaka’s personal space in order to literally get a rise out of their anatomy (something I really hated about the episode, that it was more important to the minor characters to find out which box to put the character in than just respect the person’s individuality and non-conformity *huffs*).
But, the message here is that I LOVE seeing more examples of trans* or queer or genderbending entering our pop culture. Unique and Beiste in Glee sometimes made me wibble with pride and joy just by existing and being eloquent in their roles on the show-choir dramafest. I also had a tearful moment the other day while binge-watching Season 1 of Sense8, a Netflix original series about eight individuals psychically linked (one of them is a lesbian transwoman). While the writing does tend to beat you over the head with info-dumps, there are a few monologues from Nomi (the trans woman) that were truly poignant. They might be too much for some viewers, but they were really empowering and tugged at my heartstrings. No small feat, even with out trans director Lana Wachowski at the helm. It gave me an exquisite moment, one in which I whispered to myself, “Finally. Finally, there’s a character like me whose voice isn’t silenced by the writers or producers!”
And that’s a really powerful thing… and it’s why this sign makes my list worth sharing on the blog. When you struggle to identify with characters in pop culture until you find genderbending, androgynous, or trans* characters… it can be a sign you’re not cis-gender yourself. 😉 I live for the moments I find hints of myself in characters, whether they’re real people or fictional creations in TV or movies.
But seriously, I can’t get enough of Sense8. While it’s far from perfect, it has these bright, shining moments of sheer brilliance, and I’m eagerly awaiting Season 2!