OWLS June “Vunerable” Post – Wandering Son: When Being Vunerable isn’t an Option
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
It is time once again for another OWLS post. This month’s theme is Vunerable:
In the month of June, we will be discussing what it means to be vulnerable. To some individuals, being vulnerable could be seen as a sign of weakness, but in fact, vulnerability is actually a sign of strength. In this month’s posts, we will explore what it means to be vulnerable and how certain characters in pop culture glamorize vulnerability. When do we show our vulnerability? How do we express vulnerability? Why should we show vulnerability?
Also, since I haven’t done anything for pride month, due to me being on vacation, I figured I would take some time to dedicate a post for that very purpose, which is why the anime I will be talking about for this month is Wandering Son. I know I’ve talked about it before for OWLS, but I think its an important enough show that its worth talking about and sharing again. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely recommend watching it.
With all that done, here is the post:
For almost everyone, there are going to be things that remain hidden behind a certain level of self-consciousness. Some of the things people hide are more innocuous, like an embarrassing habit or a cringe favorite thing. Either way, it is hard for people to talk to others about these things because making themselves vulnerable is often both emotionally and mentally difficult. However, for members of the LGBTQ community, the ability to be vulnerable about their specific situations is much harder due to the history of treatment of that group of people.
More specifically though, transgender people have a harder time due to their being a lot of confusion about what being transgender actually means. Many still have to live in the shadows about their identity, and often times it means that they feel alone.
A good example of this is Wandering Son, an anime that explores the story of two transgender individuals named Shuichi and Yoshino. As it is explained in the show, before the two met, they had no way of talking to others about being transgender and no one to talk to about their experience, because doing so would have likely meant rejection from friends and family. With their friendship, it becomes easier for the two to be more open.
Unfortunately, though, even their journey was not that simple. Despite having Yoshino to talk to, Shuichi still has to deal with his sister, who finds out about Shuichi being transgender, and throughout most of the show is still unwelcoming to his identity. Meanwhile, Yoshino dresses as a guy at school and gets accused of simply doing it for attention. In both of their situations, vulnerability is not something they feel safe enough to show.
It is also important to remember that the ignorance surrounding transgender issues and the treatment of transgender people in horrible ways has real world consequences. A CDC study from 2016 shows that transgender people are much more likely to have attempted suicide, with as many as 40 percent admitting to doing so. Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people are also disproportionately likely to have attempted suicide. These numbers mean that many of both transgender people and other members of the LGBTQ community still feel like Shuichi and Yoshino.
Sadly, some of this ignorance and often unintended hate can also be seen and felt in the anime community. The word “trap” has come under fire within the past year or so in many online anime communities for being a somewhat bigoted term that has implications about why someone is transgender, the implication being that specifically trans women only dress as women in order to trick men. Some defend the term by arguing that there is no malicious intent, and that it is only used as a joke, but it is still hard to argue against its influence and meaning, especially considering that there have been hate crimes against transgender people which were justified using this same logic. If the word is recognized by transgender people as a slur, it might just be best to stop using it if it makes them feel marginalized.
What’s important is this: Being vunerable around someone means that you feel safe, and feeling safe in the environment you grow up and live in can be important both to one’s mental development and their adult mental health. If people continue to ignore the urgency of these problems, then many more lives could be in danger.
Thanks for reading friends. Be sure to be there for your friends and family, and help them when they need it. Also, have a good rest of Pride Month.