Androgyny: Reviving a Lost Human Condition

Credit to @RamchiPixiv (Twitter): https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=65780298--Initial reactions to this image are explained in the literature review portion of this analysis as “performing ambiguity, liminality, and transgressive sexuality”.

Abstract

I am doing intuitive research and analysis on the internet phenomenon known as “traps” with the hopes that I can persuade individuals who are confused by the phenomenon, ignorant of what traps are, and those who have specific advocacy in direct relation to this topic. The questions I had asked on my journey to explain what I had known for so long as a recently self-discovered androgyne who now takes interest in cross-dressing are: What are traps? What is not a trap? What is the history behind this phenomenon? Who are the audiences directly involved with the becoming of this meme? What do they value? What issues do they have? Are their perceived issues justified? Finally, why should anyone care?

Androgyny: Reviving a Lost Human Condition —A Queer Analysis on Traps

🌈🏳️‍🌈 Are Traps Gay? 👱‍♀️🍆 🧐

Is this a transphobic question or is it an underlying psychological condition of the person who asks this question? If a person ironically asks this question, are they also participating in a larger societal transphobia or are they merely jesting? If you ever found interest in a person that you simply could not make a correct guess of their gender, then you are not alone! In this critical analysis, I will unveil the mysteries of androgynous cross-dressers and help you understand why something so ambiguous is a part of the human condition and why a trap is an object of embrace. It is in my humble opinion based on my liberal, progressive principles and research for the history of androgyny that androgyny is a part of the human condition in our ongoing, yet repetitive journey to rediscover and establish how we as a civilization value gender. It is also in my humble opinion that to engage in discourse with the intention of having positive outcomes for the sake of progression and the overall benefit of those who one would vehemently oppose requires self-reflection, basic inquiry on what afflictions one has, and critical thinking done because of the inquiry would all prove to be the most effective advocacy. Finally, transphobia is a quixotic term that ought to hold more value than personal discomfort and opposition to literature and media usage and individual behavior that is (usually) rightly attributed as a symptom of a systemic issue in any given society. This analysis will preview texts that define and explain concepts that exemplify androgyny as the perfect case study to support my principles.

Artifact Description

Detailing the word “Trap” with Queer communities (trans, androgynous, & cross-dressing communities), cisgender/heteronormativity, and the usage by the hegemonic public and the counter-public. Trap is a term used by fans of Japanese animation (anime for short) to describe androgynous cross-dressers that are often subject to fetishization or comic relief. The issues presented by this phenomenon are plentiful, however, I will be analyzing the following:

  • Problems that the trans community and some intersectional feminist critics have with the term regarding the interpretation or “trap”; claiming that the word causes direct harm to trans individuals.
  • The history of androgyny and uncovering a concept I call: amnesia archive to further analyze the public memory of the hegemonic public and counter-public by examining the commonalities of amnesia through a historical lens and deconstruct the misuse of “transphobia” as well as identifying the faces behind each relevant public.
  • Addressing the problematic nature of the infamous internet meme: “Are Traps Gay?” through using queer critique.
Run to the hills, you damn cis-scum!

Literature Review

It is interesting to mention that the otaku, as well as intersectional feminists and some critics in the trans community, have trouble grasping the resisting nature of androgyny. Androgyny is a concept of ambiguity in a time when both the position of counterculture and hegemony are unable to secure a concise understanding of the mechanics involved with advocating, embracing and fetishizing what is really a component of the human condition. This component of the human condition is proven with history (as I will elaborate further on later in the critical analysis portion of this paper), as well as inherent liminality, performing ambiguity, and the transgressing sexuality of androgyny that every society must come to terms with. (LeMaster 2011) describes liminality:

Over 100 Years of Performing Ambiguity in American History
“ We have no choice General Calrissian, our cruisers can’t repel firepower of that magnitude!” -Admiral Ackbar crica 34ABY

“Lived memory is active, alive, embodied in the social — that is, in individuals, families, groups, nations, and regions.” (Huyssen 2000).

Not only is the average human’s memory flawed, but how can we also expect society’s memory to be fine especially in a digital age? (Huyssen 2000) explains further about the fragility of memory:

Big word, small/arbitrary world
Best example of genderfluidity in anime that came fresh out of the oven of my squirrel-spotting mind

“Many identities fall under the transgender umbrella. The term transsexual refers to people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex.” (APA 2011).

I had the feeling that if I posted magnum-dong equipped Futa doujins I’d get in trouble somehow. I wonder if the art history will pass?

“(i.e., atypical combinations of features that usually distinguish male from female).” (APA 2012).

Later in the critical analysis, the history of how cultures found androgyny to be interchangeable will be explored.

There are plenty of examples of genderqueer characters in anime

“Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not necessarily tied to erotic activity. Cross-dressing is not indicative of sexual orientation” (APA 2011).

“The term drag queens generally refers to men who dress as women for entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events. The term drag kings refer to women who dress as men for entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events.” (APA 2011).

In some instances, not generalizing for the sake of nuance and clarity, there is derogatory usage of transvestism from some individuals in the transgender community. While transvestite is an outdated derogatory term for cross-dressers from the hegemonic public, its usage is still used as a derogatory term by the Queer community (the counter-public) to differentiate cross-dressers by an arbitrary aesthetic standard, which would blur the line between cross-dressing and drag because of said standard. An explicit focus must be made for gender expression to explain the cross-dressing relevance for androgynous individuals:

Interested in nonconforming anime yet? Start off with Princess Jellyfish!

“Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.” (WHO).

Helpful pics to simplify all the jargon. Interestingly enough, the nonconforming view of “Genderbread” ought to explicitly keep in mind the intensity of all of the plot points. Feel free to ask for more details in the comments!

“…gender identity refers to one’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else.” (APA 2011)

clearly showing commonality with the World Health Organization’s definition of gender. Finally,

“Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person, whereas gender identity refers to one’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else.” (APA 2011)

which brings a clear contrast to contemporary thinking against modern and classical literature on this issue in which all these terms are ignorantly interchanged (Hargreaves 2005).

My entire life I was always amazed at how beautiful angels are portrayed. As an adult, I’m constantly amazed at how indifferent the Catholic Church has been to the angels being androgynous when they have been on record for criticizing so many cultures for being sinful for breaking what they viewed was right. Then there’s the kicker in Catholic dogma with God being queer too, yet we see Baptists swear up and down that: “God Hates Fags”. If God existed in a WB Baptist image, God would definitely fit into bipolar and have a fucked up case of GID.

Analysis of Traps through Queer Theory.

“Obvious af”. Nice one.

Amnesia Archive: Androgyny as a Constant Normal

Androgyny is recorded and commented on in several ancient cultures such as Sumerian culture, ancient Athenian culture, Roman culture, and Japanese culture. Androgyny, as a case study example for this queer critique, is a normal aspect of civilization — I would go as far as to state that it is a part of the human condition to coexist with androgyny as a reflection of diversity and sort-of social homeostasis. Early signs of systematic policy and/or cultural acceptance were enforced by the hegemonic publics to bring equity to queers of their time existed in Mesopotamian cultures, Indus Valley cultures, Greco-Roman culture, and even Japan as well.

(Left) Innana/Ishtar; (Right) Gala Priests
(Left) Hindu pantheon; (Right) Indian hijra — Over 330 million gods exist in this pantheon. It’s statistically unlikely that a good number of them wouldn’t be queer.
Damn, look at all that Eros from the Greeks (left) and the Romans (right).
Behold: One of my top 5 4chan posts! Surprisingly accurate since it’s from Craig Williams’s book (good read tbh). You know what they say: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do and man up on traps”. Ironic how it’s anybody but the LGBTQ+ community pushing a “gay agenda”.
Seems like Japanese aristocrats knew about their own version of Greek Eros ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) — Tale of Genji (written during the Heian Period)
Yakumo Yurakutei — a rakugo storyteller performing a skit as a geisha in the anime: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
#cdgoals

“Are Traps Gay?” A Question of Androgynous Power

Let’s jump right into this, shall we?

Otaku: summarizing a problematic, goldmine audience.

To begin analysis of the hegemonic public involved with traps, we need to unpack the audience involved with the hegemonic public, what the audience is not and the product that they consume. The typical otaku spends his or her money primarily on aesthetics that appeal to them — much like buying art (often posters, canvasses, actual art products are the product as well). When researching the history and contemporary impact of traps in societies around the world, there are subcultures of people who recognize the concept of an androgynous cross-dresser in a different way:

A recent anime (Blend-S) that is an example of moe in the digital age: popular due to viral memes and keeps an approval due to the moe aspects of the show and genuine enjoyment people get from its entertainment.
The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation 1st Edition by Thomas Lamarre (Author)

“Simply put, it is a general term referring to those who indulge in forms of subculture strongly linked to anime, video games, computers, science fiction, special-effects films, anime figurines, and so on.” (Azuma, Able, Kono 2009).

Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals by Hiroki Azuma (Author), Jonathan E. Abel (Translator), Shion Kono (Translator)
We do virtual crossdressing on the daily

Traps Are (not) Transphobic

Recently posted androgynous pictures to Tinder, can confirm the meme to be true. Also, I support having Hideyoshi public baths (hmu w/ gender neutral legislation, yo)!
Gotta love that porn logic

“Not only are these “traps” misogynistic, they’re also incredibly transphobic. Anime includes these characters not because they want to break the gender binary, but because they want to get their rocks off.” (Dingle 2017).

A real head-scratcher at this point

“Notice that none of these characters identifies as trans, agender, gender fluid, demi-female, or even mommy-queer. It’s because the writers aer afraid of trans and queer individuals and their disruption of the toxic gender binary.” (Dingle 2017).

Send me more translated panels. I will add them to this article for comedic effect. I swear even if it’s 10 years from now.
“Everyone has fun until somebody gets hurt?” Too cliche. Fuck it. Let’s let some asshat give it a shot… we live in the darkest timeline.
If only we were talking about Star Wars. This article would have been a postmortem for Admiral Ackbar — the only admiral a ship waifu should care about.

“So basically the word “trap” in theory refers to cross-dressers who are deceiving people by presenting as a different gender, and for that should perhaps be a threat.” (BristleBristle 2017).

Keep in mind that the Urban Dictionary definition has no mention of androgyny yet mentions cross-dressers that are feminine enough to hide a secret. Not only is this assuming too much from cross-dressers, but to then see the blogger (BristleBristle 2017) turn around and assume that this correlate to what they call: “pervasive and harmful stereotypes” to real life events to trans people in transitioning from one sex to another is also cum hoc ergo propter hoc — whether intentional or unintentional. Perhaps it is time to return to the days of the Gay Liberation Movement where inclusivity, open-mindedness, and inquiry were valued as high of a priority as advocacy (Stryker 2008).

Who died and made you Lord of the Queers?
The best timeline

Conclusion

In this analysis, the idea of publics holding onto ideas that are partially forgotten in context has been presented as amnesia archives — a melting pot of ideas with limits suggesting that every society has a limited memory which suggests a place for ideas to exist that can be “remembered” or “rediscovered”. Androgyne serve as a solid case study of the need for a concept like amnesia archives due to ongoing issues that Western civilization faces today with identity politics and presenting the hegemonic and counter-publics an opportunity to rediscover an alternative fluidity to sexuality and gender. The history of androgyny has been discussed and correlated to the idea of the amnesia archive and the audiences that it relates to. With such revelations possible and discussions that need to be had in a context-driven narrative, perhaps groundbreaking progress can be made in mainstream and subcultural society’s ongoing journey to address our issues with gender identity politics. Perhaps addressing an audience that is already familiar with androgyny would not only be an excellent foundation for such progress, but a rediscovering of an aspect of what it means to be human by embracing the transgressive sexuality, performing ambiguity, and liminality of the beautiful, the powerful, and the (un)forgotten status of traps that can release us from a cycle of polarizing and stagnating sociocultural decay.

References

Alizai, A., Doneys, P., & Doane, D. (2017). Impact of Gender Binarism on Hijras’ Life Course and Their Access to Fundamental Human Rights in Pakistan. Journal of Homosexuality, 64(9), 1214–1240.

Reikan is the author of Magical Phenomena light novel series, Vtuber, and an advocate for mental health, queer liberation, anti-fascism, and social ecology

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store