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I have had this six-episode drama on my hard drive for ages and only just now got to it. Thanks to this new monitor, which is big enough to let me watch TV while doing even more things than before, I have really been going through my to-watch stock quickly. Plus it's hiatus for a bunch of US shows I'm following.

Anyway, the title translates to Mama Used to Be Papa, so as you can guess, it's about a trans woman with children. The law in Japan is that if you are diagnosed with GID and have SRS, you can change your gender on the family register (which functions as birth/marriage/adoption/death certificate). However, if you have children, you cannot change your gender on the register, which means even if, like the woman in this drama, you change your name, have full SRS, and live fulltime as female, your ID and everything still says male. Obviously this causes problems and opens people up to harrassment.

So this drama follows Hitomi, a single mother of two elementary-school-aged boys and the discrimination she faces. On the whole it's an enjoyable show and I think it's good that it's out there, but. BUT.

1. The main character is played by a cis woman. Despite the fact that they cast a trans woman as a supporting character, so it's clear they know trans women exist. Also, the main character actually looks more "mannish" or at least plain, than the supporting character, so I kind of wonder if that's why they cast her. (Like how they used prosthetics to make Felicty Huffman look more "mannish" in Transamerica.) A third supporting character who is also a trans woman is played by a man.

2. Trans men don't appear to exist in this world, despite the fact that they have three trans women. (I mean, if there is only one trans person in a show, I'm going to cut it more slack, but if they're making the effor to have multiple trans characters, can we have both men and women? I find this is often a problem and it's one reason I love Hourou Musuko so much.)

3. No queer people anywhere, much less queer trans people. Made especially problematic by the fact that the show goes out of its way to emphasise that trans people are totes not like those icky gays! I'm all for saying being trans is not the same as being gay (it's not!), but this was definitely done in a "we're all just normal heterosexual people like you!" way.

4. Speaking of which, although Hitomi has children, they really went out of their way to avoid any possible taint of the gay with her and her ex-wife. It turns out they never even had sex! The kids were both conceived by artificial insemination.

5. The story is just really, really tired. This is why I loved that post I linked the other day so much. Because there is this one narrative for trans people, and God forbid you don't conform to it. When Hitomi's father is asked when he first knew Hitomi was trans, and he says it's when Hitomi was about three, I totally knew what was going to come next. Sure enough, Hitomi tried to cut off her penis with scissors. And over and over it's emphasised that Hitomi would be dead if she hadn't transitioned. And she repeats the same thing when trying to convince another trans woman's grandfather. Because you're not really trans if it doesn't make you suicidal. Also there is no allowance for people who don't want full SRS. If you're trans, you must want to go "all the way".

So yeah. Honestly, I think #5 bothers me the most. Because there are more and more stories out there about trans people, in books and manga and TV and movies, but they're all the exact same story.


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