Transphobia In Anime

I don’t watch alot of anime so pardon my ignorance but I am genuinely curious. Are “traps” in animr generally considered transphobic? I kind of feel like they are (hence the term traps) but I don’t really know how the community feels about these types of characters and tropes. People have said some really hurtful things to me (oh you’re just a guy in a dress etc) so when I see some of my friends posting online and talking about these kind of things, it just reminds me of all that anger amd resentment a lot of cisgender people have towards trans and other gender non-conforming folks.

So am i way off base here? If someone who is much more experienced with anime culture and iI guess Japanese culture in general could explain some of this stuff to me, it would be really helpful. I just see alot of it and kind of feel upset about it

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“Traps” are transphobic. Ambiguous gender characters are not.

In my view of things, anyways.


The terminology and concept and (more often than not) fan-imposed assumption of “oh hey this character dresses or identifies this way in order to trick other people” is absolutely transphobic. This doesn’t mean that people can’t or don’t find “trap” characters relatable or good on their own merits, but it makes trying to discuss or point out problems with gender politics in anime a goddamn chore in many communities.

So as a general rule of thumb: don’t use the term at all, ever



Honestly we should have stopped having this conversation years ago but anime discourse is really that bad.


If the anime itself uses androgynous or gender-ambiguous characters and isn’t doing anything transphobic with them, then if the fanbase acts in that manner, I would say it’s the fanbase that’s being transphobic, not the anime(or any other media) or the character.

You just reminded me of that one youtuber who tweeted about how he wanted to do the invisible girl from MHA but wondered if she had a dick and was a trap.

What followed was a lot of transphobic idiots defending the moron from rightfully upset transpeople shocked by the horrible comment (in a whole lot of ways).

Gigguk. People liked him because he used film theory to review anime but I knew he was bad from the word go because he did an overly long video calling The Asterisk War terrible.

That is, like, the only good light novel show I have seen in years. All the others have been truly retched (OH MY GOD UNDEFEATED BAHAMUT CHRONICLE WAS SO GOD AWFUL but Phi was good and is my daughter do not bully)

The god awful tweet pretty much cemented what I suspected. I don’t trust anime critics with mainstream appeal because they usually end up being toothless or dumb bros who’s interests range from Toonami to Trigger shows and that’s it.

Though we at the Waypoint forums know that asking is an important step to understanding and getting better, the word previously in the title of this thread is a transphobic slur and we want to remind everyone that it is possible to continue a conversation about transphobia in anime without repeating it. The thread title has been edited.

The very presence of the concept in anime is disgusting and hateful, regardless of how it is used or perceived. Though we feel this issue is pretty cut and dry, if this continues, please mind the Rules and Codes of Conduct, especially Rule 1 in this case. Please don’t put someone in the position of explaining why this term is hateful.

Thank you.


I hate to break this to you, but there are literally no good magic high school light novels, including (perhaps even, in a sense, especially) Asterisk War. They are all garbage by default.

Anyway, one point I’ve seen regarding the topic at hand is that there’s actually a (relatively?) more innocuous alternative: otoko no ko. It’s the romanization of a Japanese pun used to refer to that kind of character, and carries none of the connotations “trap” does. And it’s not like the fandom hasn’t used romanized Japanese before (senpai is an obvious example, ecchi is referred to by that specific word quite often, manga instead of comics, etc.), so it wouldn’t be unusual.

Good catch by Mello; hadn’t thought about language use here.
Anyways, if you’re interested, Anime Feminist, which puts out some good criticism imo, had a nice article on transphobia in anime, though it uses the slur.

Japanese culture also has its instances of violence against trans individuals, in case you see anyone claiming that they don’t and therefore the term is fine (have seen that argument before).

Are ecchi and manga really romanticised words though? Those two terms feel more like they entered the English tongue because there weren’t prior existing terms that describe them well. I know I’m nitpicking, and I promise this isn’t attacking you, but people seem to forget that words can enter the language for other reasons that cultural dressup.

Romanized, not romanticized. As in “written with the Latin alphabet”.

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There’s not much anime that isn’t super transphobic when it includes trans people from what I know, but there’s a handful of good mangas about trans people. Hanayome wa Motodanshi is a really cute and heartwarming autobiography written by a trans woman for example.

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Did anyone ever read F. Compo? I remember hearing about it a long time ago. I’ve never read it, personally.

Here’s a description of the plot from T.V. Tropes:

Ordinary college student Masahiko goes to live with his aunt and uncle, Yukari and Sora Wakanae. While excited about meeting his relatives for the first time, he is surprised to discover that his lovely aunt Yukari is actually male and his handsome uncle Sora is physically female. Their plucky daughter, Shion, is revealed to be… whichever gender she feels like (Though for the time being she’s sticking with female).

At the time I heard of it, I was constantly curious about this kind of stuff and super closeted (to myself, too), so I found myself interested in it. Looking back, it might come across as transphobic or naïve. I feel like it may be one of those issues where something was progressive at its time of creation, but has fallen quickly behind the times on the matter. But I can’t say; again, I haven’t read it.

there’s a lot of interesting, and even personally relatable, gender ambiguous stuff surrounding that trope in anime, but yeah the way fans react to it and the term itself is pretty transphobic. i know there are a few trans artists who work in the erotic comics space who’ve kind of reappropriated it, which is complicated.

there’s a kind of attachment to the way anime can play around with gender and ambiguity that i appreciate, and that’s inspired a lot of FEELINGS in me, so i kind of understand queer people who like those tropes. at the same time, the term positioning it as a deception is inherently transphobic for sure.

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I think it just a matter of educating the audience on what terms are best to describe a character and what old terms need to move away from. Also shout out to Astolfo who kinda started the idea of moving away from term Trap to describe Astolfo. Here a quote from dailyarturia on tumblr

What’s wrong with calling Astolfo a trap?

calling characters (and also people) who are gender nonconforming “traps” suggests that they’re somehow deceiving you by not looking like what you think their assigned gender should look like. this attitude is incredibly demeaning towards both trans people and people who just like to dress gender nonconforming alike, because it assumes that they are dressing the way they do specifically to deceive others into thinking they’re a different gender for whatever reason, instead of just because that’s how they express themselves.

astolfo doesn’t wear skirts because he’s trying to trap you into being gay, he wears skirts because he looks fucking cute in them

I’d normally agree, but Asterisk War pretty much dodges all of the common problems, has solid character writing, and even has some interesting, at occasionally clever, fights. It also benefits from some surprisingly good animation, like the first fight between Ayato and Kirin. Also, they had a fat guy villain who’s never subjected to fat jokes and manages to be a proper dignified and threatening premise through his planning and confident public persona. The show is like a unicorn.

It premiered at the same time as Lance ‘n’ Masques and Anti-Magic Academy, so it utterly baffles me that it got shit on so much more than either of those turds (Anti-Magic Academy is legitimately one of the worst anime I have ever watched).

Oops. My bad haha

Quite unfortunately yes there is a problem with a lot of anime and portrayal of trans characters. But it isn’t a Japanese only thing, it’s just that we get a lot of their media. And often they have more characters who are cross dressers or are trans, but when such characters show up in Western media thy have their own tropes and ways of being really transphobic.

I’m also always reminded of one of the earlier trans characters I experienced through anime, from Rurouni Kenshin, Honjō Kamatari. She is kinda obviously trans and not a cross dresser to me(She desires being a woman and wants to only be seen as a woman and lives always as a woman and wishes she could bare children). I remember the poor treatment of her which went so far in the manga that the way she is defeated is by being kicked in the testicles(Cue laughter, ugg). Though she sorta has a happy ending so she’s at least not example of more trans women having tragic ends.


I’m just waiting for it to get better.

Transphobia like any other societal failing, seems to be deep rooted in Japan’s progressiveness. They…are getting there it’s just a slow process. It still makes watching anime and playing games rough.

I have recently been involved in an online discussion where this very issue came up. I am an anime fan and so thought I could explain to them easily why calling a character in anime who lives and dresses as a female when they are male a “trap” is bad because it is transphobic. (Know your meme Anime forum post on this issue ) It is just me against a whole board full of as far as I can tell cisgender people most of whom don’t want to learn more about the actual human beings who are represented by those drawings.

They tried to dispute that characters that dress as women 24x7 yet are supposedly biological males are in fact transgender.

I cited both the dictionary and the APA GID diagnosis the most authoratative sources possible. Many ears were and are deaf. For example the very first reply on that forum post was

“A trap is a feminine male who can fool people into thinking he’s a woman, they’re not necessarily trans, i.e. they’re not taking hormones and mutilating their bodies to look like women, it’s just how they naturally are. It makes sense that this thing has such a name.”


I really think that for a certain age group anime “traps” are what photos of younger more passing trans women were in ages past. I recall being told in on line discussion that transwoman X or Y (sometimes even me myself) can’t exist and are just photoshop… well I guess in that way this latest wave are a bit more correct in that the trans women they are directly refering to really are just a drawing. Still though…

Even a meme their own language does not get through to them.