Crunchyroll, Funimation and others have perpetuated the miseducation, and knowingly or unknowingly promoted anti LGBT bigotry in a generation of geeks in the western world. Once people are miseducated it is really hard to reeducate them in the right way. Companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation have misrepresented the culture of Japan in relation to Transgender people. Anime, you may ask, why should this form of media matter to senior scientist… because a lot of your junior researchers and students are or have been fans of it. Along with Sci Fi and Fantasy Anime is one of the big three genre’s of fiction that appeal to the modern geek. Sadly it is teaching a lot of young impressionable people transphobia. This is a follow up to Transgender Awareness Week and Anime Trap Culture, Trans phobia Isn’t Just For Your Father.(November 2017)
How many of our bright students who people would assume are way beyond such bigotry act when they encounter people like me in the classroom or in the lab. I know from personal experience they don’t act right. Even if you are the teacher with life altering power over them they don’t know how to act.
"According to a recent study by the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, transgender physicists experience some of the highest rates of harassment of LGBTQ scientists: one in two transgender people are harassed at university and research settings. As a result, about 36 percent of transgender physicists consider a career change and many of their lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers avoid specializations in physics out of fear of harassment." - Transphobia in the sciences: LGBTQ discrimination continues in the graduate physics by Danielle Prieur | Jun 30, 2016 | Science + Technology
available on CrunchyRoll.com It's not a bad show but this one and only time in this show the word is used is just the most blatant example I can think of.
If you want to help with this situation at least tweet @Crunchyroll and @FUNimation about #faithfulTRANSlation of their media, consider writing them an email. As the Netflix of Anime they generally do a good job. This also means they have a higher responsibility to conduct their business ethically and in a manner which does not defame the very product they market, the country that produces it, or the people represented in it.
For people you may know, people like me, and too many of my trans sisters, this kind of thing has real consequences (WARNING a graphic Meme that gets to the point).
Effects on the Culture of STEM
The kind of people in my classes are the same as students at any college or university especially in the STEM fields. They consume sci fi, fantasy and anime media. In anime a very corrosive idea of transgender people has been taught as being a fact in a non-western culture. Trap, a word used by the anime fandom for just about any gender non-conforming character or real-life person is a mis translation of the term 男の娘 Otoko no ko. Written with characters that mean otoko no musume. It is a play on words. In pronunciation it is the same as the word for a younger male, below an age where one would say usually say ma'am or sir in English. In writing it means male daughter. A similar term exist which roughly corresponds to female to male transgender 雄んなの子 Onna no ko, known in the anime fandom as “reverse traps”.
This one really hit home for me because that character looks, and to an extent acts, like me. A fan of this show created a music video of sorts out of it using that word. Knowing the song is referring to a type of music and being both black and trans I admit to liking this video. Trans women of color are so rarely celebrated in any form or format. It still disturbs me that it took this and it has to contain two slurs. Someone really put a LOT of thought into that. Someone who probably thought the word was the proper and right term. People who saw that type of media see someone who looks like their eventual math or science teacher and it causes issues.
I am honest with my classes about who I am and it is a googleable fact that I am transgender. I have learned that it really isn’t obvious and that it is more trouble to assume that it is. One example of a student who did not know how to act, a semester ago I had an astronomy class with a lot of anime fans in it. I just couldn’t reach some of the students. In most cases I think they were too overwhelmed with work and class was right after work. One would not call me ma’am / Prof. Farmer but would call me Sir / Ms. Farmer. 🤪 That student didn’t drop the class and hung in there to the end. Imagine how such a person might treat a transwoman who does not have power over them? Thankfully, I was careful about my activities when I was a student and did not find out how bad it could get. Others are not so lucky.
If our scientific communities consisted exclusively of straight cisgender people then this wouldn’t be a problem. In fact anime fans will try to argue that this isn’t a problem. They seriously have convinced themselves there are no real people who are represented by or ever labeled as “traps”. Even though this is provably false and there are many examples of actual people labeled as such sometimes with deadly consequences.
Consequences Both Psychological and Deadly
Consider the death of Jennifer Laude and how she was treated in the news media misgendered in death after being killed by a US marine. An incident that merited mention in a speech by the president of the Philippines last year. Consider the real people known as 男の娘 and what they have to deal with.
In the wider world it legitimates an attitude that gets transgender women killed by the hundreds every single year. This is not all because of Crunchyroll, Funimation, and other companies mistranslations, but they reflect and help amplify and stimulate the radiation of a type of bigotry already present in our society into a more intense laser of hatred that burns so many lives of people like me.
Of great importance to understanding this issue is knowing that there are in truth real people in Japan who are transgender who are the source of inspiration for these stories.
Believe it or not there are people in the world who think Japan has no LGBT people. Conversely there are people who think Japan is so cool with LGBT people that the identiy is just invisble or does not matter... as if the place is a gay post gender utopia.
Hypotheses On How the Western Anime Fandom Got Here.
For months now I have engaged with anime fans who are really into this subject but who are not transgender and some who are. On a site called Know Your Meme Every image I post that is neutral to trans positive gets treated like I insulted their mothers. Every kind of circular argument, no evid ence presented convinces, it is like I am trying to make people who think GMO's are bad for them realize that everything we eat is a GMO (some are just more sophisticated than others.) Citing a dictionary, or products of Japanese culture straight from Japan are treated as if they are inferior to a 4Chan post. I am so glad I don't have to teach these ... probably late teen to early 20 year old people Rhetoric 101. At this point I am truly happy to see at least some of them marginally improve their reading comprehension,critical thinking, and writing skills. To the point where recently some can see...I am not against Anime or this genre. I am just speaking up for trans girls who are too meek to do so because it is part of my calling as a college professor to do so. Same reason that Jordan Peterson does what he does. In a past era I would write a few books on it.
Never the less some people never seem to advance beyond this level of discourse. WARNING... the below video uses STRONG LANGUAGE.
Remember when Crunchyroll started 2006. Much anime translated
before then even in say Happiness! Jun watarase is not called a
"trap" in the subtitles.
They don't even say "otoko no ko" in the Japanese the word did not have much online currency. The bad translation “trap” came to anime fandom from a message board called 4chan. The basic concept that transgender people are out to fool, trick, deceive or trap people has existed much MUCH longer and been used to defend acts of murder. So why did actual companies start inserting it everywhere in ways designed to make it look like the litteral meaning of a word. Why did they give people the idea that Japan is in real life a country where transgender people somehow don’t exist to the point they will argue with actual video showing that to be false?
*Marketing: calling such character’s "traps" makes it sound funny just as the Simpsons once used "Shemale" to refer to transgender women. Such as Judge Constance Harm who revealed that Bart reminds her of when she was a little boy. The one way man conservative US and European parents will let their preteen to teen watch a show that contains a transgender theme is if it denigrates them.
*Transphobia: Transphobia within the translators or assumed to already exist in the audience. They wanted to use something a bit derogatory YET not explicitly sexual. Which relates back to marketing.
*Sheer ignorance became encoded as truth: once that trend was established by 2010 it was continued without much thought given. It was simply taken as a fact that 男の娘, otoko no ko means trap. As if it was the literal factual and neutral translation.
One or two paragraph comments from Funimation and or Crunchyroll on this matter will be inserted here if they provide such. What if anything will they have to say for themselves?
Their logo is all over this anime traps wiki and the word appears in most if not all translations they produce that regard transgender characters.
Clearly at least in the minds of fans of this genre Crunchyrolls logo is so identified with it that it can stand in for a picture of a character.
What defense can there be for perpetuating such a toxic idea?
in relationship to a character who while said to be male dresses as a female 100% of the time. Daruku Hoshino, a full-blown transgender girl who won’t even bathe with the boys or the girls in a situation where communal bathing is the norm. That is the act of someone who… feels dysphoric about their body. This character is also shown to be very honest about their biology if it could be relevant. Lastly, they are accepted completely by other female characters in women’s only spaces by women. Yet to the companies that translate or localize this a word like "trap" is an appropriate descriptor for such a person.
This may seem like a small thing to a science and education media that worries about how the use of artful semi nude women's images on shirts and chili peppers on rate my professor make some people feel. There is a very short conceptual path from calling a whole group of people deceptive “traps” to killing people in that group.
In case anyone is confused about why this is worth so much mental effort. THIS IS WHAT IS REAL. This is why this isn't just cute. This is fantasy vs reality.
Dear readers, if you care about what kind of people will populate scientific and technical circles and the wider kingdom of geekdom in the west you should care about this. If you are an LGBT person you should care about this. Tweet @Crunchyroll about #faithfulTRANSlation of their media. Ask them or any other media to represent LGBT people accurately and fairly. Neither complementarily nor derogatorily just fairly. If you are a weeaboo and really respect Japan and it’s culture or you are Japanese or Japanese America and care that your culture isn’t mis represented as being a bastion of homophobia and transphobia demand #faithfulTRANSlation. It is your whole culture being defamed. It is a misrepresentation of your culture being used to bludgeon many young people here.
On the next exciting episode: I will be having the big operation this coming Thursday. I will blog, tweet, and maybe even vlog part of what happens before and after on this site. Nothing more than PG-13 just my words and honest feelings about it. Watch this space if you really want to know what sexual reassignment surgery is really like. Will I wake up from it and be horrified!? Probably not, more likely zonked out with pain killers.