Why is gendering so important? Wandering Son

Wandering Son is a story which focuses around Nitori and Tatatsuki. Two 5th graders who share common ground given the fact that they both are questioning their gender identities. Nitori born a boy, wanting to be a girl and Tatatsuki born a girl, wanting to be a boy. The shifting of gender identities in the series is what makes this story different from other tales of adolescence. The two characters appear to form a strong bond, and this creates excitement in the story as well as faces the audience with the question to whether they are romantically interested in each other or if their friendship is created because they are going through similar experiences. The story goes on to follow their relationship even through puberty where they see the other develop the way they wish their bodies would. Supporting each other through the fear of what changes puberty will bring them is what brings them even closer together. Nitori scared of his voice breaking and Tatatsuki scared of her breasts growing. However, through this struggle, the two characters find small ways to find comfort in their transformations, like Nitori recording his soft tone voice before it changes and Tatatsuki saving up for a chest binder. Therefore, Wandering Son is seen to be a story that explores the internal conflicts of pre-teens battling with their gender identities and finding ways to cope with it.

 

The question that weighed on me throughout watching this anime, was whether or not the characters were too young to know what gender even meant. I feel as if children associate actions and things with gender. For example, if a boy likes playing with dolls he may think he is a girl because society has emphasized the notion that dolls are feminine and therefore girls are the only ones that should have the desire to play with them. I am not saying this is always the case. However, children may be mis-gendering themselves just because of their interests. Yet, does this really matter? Who even cares what gender label they fit into? Why can’t we all just live as human beings without the pressure of having to know exactly what our pronouns are? Thus, I think that displaying that Nitori is a girl just because he has an ‘uncommon’ interest in Tatatsuki’s dress may be far-fetched.

 

However, this story is also important because it is relatable to those who do struggle with their gender identity and I think that because I never have, I’m displaying an outsider cisgender perspective. A perspective which could never really understand feeling misplaced in my own body, and those who do, should be able to watch anime like this and have their feelings validated. Also, the fact that they not only show a transgender girl, but also a transgender boy, broadens the audience that it relates to and thus increases its popularity and importance in anime.

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