Examining how transphobia manifests in everyday conversations
[Trigger warning for transphobic slurs, binarism, and cissexism]
By: SuperHyuga Yoshi-chan
Episode 21 of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is known as Massively Multiplayer Online Children’s Card Game. It’s the second to last episode in season one of this series. In this particular episode, 4kids traps Seto Kaiba in a video game of his own design, in which he is held hostage. When this happens, it’s up to Yugi, Joey, and Mokuba to leap into the digital world in order to rescue Kaiba.
While our heroes are trying to save Kaiba, they come across a person called Princess Adina. For all of you who don’t know, Princess Adina is a AU (Alternative Universe) version of Mokuba. She has a light, soft-spoken voice, is wearing a dress, and resembles Mokuba in apperance with the execption of a crown atop her head.
When Joey, Yugi, Mokuba, (and now Mai) come across Adina for the very first time (3:37-3:47) Joey says “This is just wrong.” Mokuba mentions he’s he’s traumatized. In short, they were shocked and appalled at what they saw. Granted, Adina being a female version of Mokuba might be shocking, but it is an alternative universe of Kaiba’s making. Why the disgust?
Alas, there is a much more problematic scene that comes up right after this one. It kicks in at 3:47, when Adina is trying to explain the plight of her people.
Now in order to explain why this scene is problematic, I’ll copy it down. Are you ready?
Adina: Welcome to the village of Cinclow.
Adina: Every year, my people are bestet by a terrible evil. A mythic dragon decends from up high to devour the-
Yugi: Just what the hell are you anyway? Are you a boy or a girl?
Joey: Maybe it’s a sh**ale. Y’know, like Bakura.
Mokuba: Whatever it is, it’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
Adina: Excuse me brave heroes. I’m trying to tell you about the suffering of my people.
Yugi: I think it’s pretty obvious why your people are suffering. Thier ruler is a Transvestite.
Adina: The only way to defeat the mythic dragon is by resurrecting the acient flying machine which-
Yugi: Why weren’t you censored anyway? I mean, what? Guns are bad but crossdressing princesses are a-okay?
The problematic scene ends at 4:27, when the episode cuts to Kaiba.
Okay, so the reason why this scene is problematic is because it covers Transphobia, Cissexism, and Binarism in almost one minute. And the fact of the matter is that Trans*, Genderqueer, Agender, Bigender, and 3rd gender people end up facing this form of violation of privacy and bigotry all the time. (Quite frankly, it’s frustrating to be told that there are only two genders when I tell people that I’m genderqueer.) And if you’re Trans*, chances are you’ve been in even worse conversations and/or predicaments.
That being said, it’s wise that we breakdown this conversations so that we’ll understand what the things said were problematic, and so that we offer alternatives. Let’s start, shall we?
Adina: Welcome to the land of Cinclow.
Adina: Every year my people are beset by a terrible evil. A mythical dragon descends from up high to devour the-
Yugi: Just what the hell are you? Are you a boy or a girl?
Now let’s point out what’s wrong here:
You never, under any circumstances, inquire about a Trans*/Genderqueer’s gender in front of people. You’re coercing said person into outing themselves, and that’s dangerous.
If you have to ask, ask them when you’re both alone and away from any other person.
If you inquire about how someone identifies, then you should phrase your question like this: “What are your preferred pronouns?” or “What pronouns should I use?”
4. Here’s a more helpful link!: http://anti-oppressivebabyanimals.tumblr.com/post/18551813406/by-request-repost-for-reblogging
Now I understand that these points may not be perfect, but these are the ones that I’ve picked up on. If there are any Trans*/Genderqueer people who beg to differ and/or would like to add on to this list, then go ahead and rebog and add your commentary.
- Joey: Maybe it’s a sh**ale. Y’know, like Bakura.
- Mokuba: Whatever it is, it’s going to haunt my dreams for the rest of my life.
The word “Sh**ale” IS A TRANSPHOBIC SLUR! If you are not Trans*, then you don’t have the grounds to reclaim it. So if you can’t reclaim it, then please don’t use it.
Never refer to a person as an it. That’s dehumanizing. (Especially if that person is Trans*/Genderqueer.)
Adina: Excuse me brave heroes. I’m trying to tell you the suffering of my people.
Yugi: I think it’s pretty obvious why your people are suffering. Their ruler is a Transvestite.
The word “Transvestite” is used as a slur against Trans* people, specifically DMAB (Declared Male at birth) trans* people who present themselves in a manner that is not perceived as traditionally masculine. It also rubs a lot of Trans*/Crossdressing/Genderqueer people the wrong way. The correct word would be crossdresser.
If Yugi is reffering to Princesses Adina as a crossdresser (despite the fact that Yugi hasn’t even established her gender) then chances are Yugi has assumed Adina is a boy, due to the fact that Mokuba identifies as a boy. That’s pretty Cissexist, yo.
To suggest that an entire civilization of people are suffering because their ruler is a “crossdresser” (we’re going on Yugi’s assumptions here.) is binarist as hell! So wait, the people will stop suffering as soon as their leader conforms to traditional “masculine” gender roles? Bullshit!
Adina: The only way to defeat the mythic dragon is by resurrecting the ancient flying machine which-
Yugi: Why weren’t you censored anyway? I mean, what? Guns are bad but crossdressing princesses are A-okay?
So let’s recap: Adina has been called a transphobic slur, has had assumptions mad about her gender (despite the fact that she didn’t have the chance to specify) was called another transphobic slur, and was told to conform to more masculine gender roles. And now she’s being told that she should’ve been censored because her existence is just as bad as violence?
For the longest time, trans* people, genderqueer people, and gender non-conforming have been told that they are “bad” and thus have been demonized, oppressed, and have even been killed because of this ideology. The belief that “crossdressing princesses” (Yugi’s words, not mine) is just as bad as one of the weapons that is used to kill these people is a terrible, TERRIBLE comparison that continues to support the cissexist, transphobic, and binarist belief that “Gender Non-conformity (aka not being cisgender) is bad, evil, and must be rooted out.”
The line “Why weren’t you censored anyway?” Struck a chord with me. LGBT*Q+/gsm characters don’t exist in kids shows, and they rarely exist in mainstream medi. And when they do, they’re either token characters, misrepresented, problematic, or play on stereotypes. This is starting to shift, but its’ still highly prelevant. So saying that someone should be censored because they don’t conform to (cis)normativity is pretty damn insulting.
Assuming that Princesses Adina really was a “crossdressing princess” so what? What harm would it have done? Trans* kids exist, genderqueer kids, exist, gender non-conforming kids, and so do crossdressing kids. It’s a fact of life! There’s nothing wrong with it either. So riddle me this: would it really hurt a kid to see someone who was non-cis for an episode, at least?
So cisgender folks, here’s the thing: LGBT*Q+/gsm people have conversations like this all the time; and it gets tiring! So if you could speak up whenever you hear or seestuff like this, that would be great!
And cisgender folks: if you’re guilty of perpetuating these problematic things, then by all means nessescary STOP! You not contributing to transphobia, cissexism, and binarism will not only make people’s lives easier, but may even save a few!
Thanks for reading, and have an eye-opening day!
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