I think it’s time to look at the feature of my life that’s been hanging over this series like a cloud of thick smoke. I’ve been dying to open my mouth and tell this tale for well over 2 years, before I even had this channel, back when I was a no-name blogger. It is time, of course, to discuss my gender.
I first encountered Wandering Son in manga form. I had just finished reading its sister manga of sorts, Aoi Hana, and in my relatively newfound leftism where interacting with trans people was the norm — unlike my wife, I actually knew that trans people existed prior to realizing I myself was one — I was curious to see if this depiction would help me to understand why people felt the way they did about gender. Reading it, I found myself relating to the characters far too heavily, but I really couldn’t place why, obvious as it is in hindsight. Problematic though the Takatsuki ending content may be, Anna’s declaration that she is a lesbian because Shuu is a girl shocked me to my core. However, it still was not enough to cause my egg to crack.
By this point, I was well into what I’d call the ‘queer shit rabbit hole’, far too deep to find my way back to the surface. My love of yuri manga only continued to grow, the less-than-savory material I used shifted more and more towards otokonoko and girls’ love, and I began to reach the point I’m at now, where shipping female characters is something that I do for at least a quarter of series I watch.
At the same time, developments in my life more broadly were having an effect. I had by this point entered my junior year of high school, and here, my English teacher introduced me to a concept known as free writing, where we’d write down anything at all that came into our heads for 5-or-so minutes. This was helpful, aside from how much it hurt my hands, and alongside my blog served to improve my writing immensely over that year, but what’s far more fascinating is the way in which this introduced me to parts of my brain that I myself was not aware of. The veil of fog that clouded my emotions began dispersing, and while I’d been relatively happy for a year or two at this point, I felt like I was able to truly understand myself for the first time since puberty had began.
So I had to ask, seriously this time. Why was I into yuri? This question sat there for a while, as I mulled it over, culminating in my playing of Kindred Spirits on the Roof. Towards the end of that game, main character Yuna realizes that she’s in love with her childhood friend, and is forced to deal with that fact. She worries about how her parents will react to her coming out, whether or not her neighbors will glare at her from now on. She’s absolutely terrified. And yet ultimately, after a month of running away, she deals with this, confesses, and ends up happier.
So, I came out to my parents as queer. Not as trans — I still couldn’t quite define myself as such — but they knew I wasn’t cishet. And after that Atlantean weight was lifted off my shoulders, I felt more comfortable exploring the uncharted territory that was my gender. I expanded my questioning beyond my interest in yuri. Why did I like porn featuring crossdressing “boys” so much, why was I always so uncomfortable being referred to as “young man”? The free writes of this time served almost as part of a map that I was following and filling in as I went. If I were able to find the notebooks I wrote them in, there’d almost certainly be a treasure trove of my developing thoughts, given that every single step of this process was catalogued through this method.
And at last, I realized I was trans. As with everyone, it took a bit to really come out of that freshly cracked egg, but after a week or two of intense self-doubt, I was fairly confident that I was definitely not a guy. So, I watched Wandering Son’s anime, something I had been meaning to do, hoping to confirm things by comparing my experiences to the characters.
It didn’t take as long as I expected to find what I was looking for. In episode 3, I believe, when Mako and Shuu record their voices before they drop, I found too much commonality with my own experiences to bear. In many ways, I was different from the characters of the series: I hadn’t known since I was a child, my own feelings were less bound up in dressing “as my gender”, and I had never had people around me who knew, supportive or unsupportive. But seeing their experiences, I was able to piece together past aspects of myself that made more sense in this new context. I grew to understand why I had felt so connected to the characters when I had first read the manga. And I knew, at long last, why it was that I was into yuri.
I wanted to write about this immediately. I wanted to deliver a big, dumb analysis of the show, a project as composed from my tears as the human body is from water. I didn’t do so, of course. A couple of friends read my blog, and who knew if my parents would find it before I was ready to come out to them with this newly specific information. I wasn’t ready to transition, especially not socially; I only had a year left of high school and I was not going to cause that much attention to be drawn to myself in that remaining time. I could keep myself hidden for another small sliver of my life, as long as I laid the groundwork. I was not yet a part of any online queer community; the Orange chat had well and truly fallen apart by this point, so my irl friends were my only ones, in this state before my blog had reached any manner of relevancy. But I had an answer to a question that had been plaguing me for years. Am I a boy? The answer was no.