Transgressive Mae: Transwoman Representation and Identity in 3 Will Be Free

Author Information

Miguel Lorenzo B. Garcia,
De La Salle University, the Philippines
Walailak University, Thailand

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.5-2
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022

Abstract

Representation of marginalized groups in the media is significant for its understanding by and acceptance in the society. Particularly, the transgender community has long been neglected in the media, with most portrayals being problematic and negative (McInroy and Craig, 2015). The recent inclusion of these communities in the Boys Love (BL) series afforded a transwoman character actress, Jennie Panhan, a transwoman role, erasing the misconception that transgenderhood is pretention, as Mocarski, et al. (2019) contend.

With scant attention paid to transgender representation in media, this study aims to investigate the identity construction of a transwoman in the BL series, 3Will Be Free, through a linguistic landscape study of language and sexuality in films (Hiramoto and Vitorio 2019). Specifically, the study employs a social semiotics approach, including one on language (Zimman 2019), to examine transgender identity.

Findings reveal that the transwoman portrayal was realistic, intersectional, and nuanced. The portrayal of the genital reconstruction surgery assists transgender individuals to use her as a model (Mocarski et al. 2019). The makeup, accessories, dress, and hairstyle were emblematic of the efforts toward transnormativity. Furthermore, her actions challenge cisnormativity, gender roles and expectations, and capitalism. Moreover, her language constructed her identity, and other people’s language was also employed to affirm her transwomanness. Finally, the portrayal of her relationship with people who accept her destabilize the notion that LBTQI+ people cannot be part of their own family, as she developed a domestic and familial relationship with her boyfriend.

The intersectional portrayal promotes transnormativity, strengthening transgender people’s acceptance in society. Although commercial and female-oriented, BL could be reappropriated to raise awareness on LGBT issues and further their causes.


Keywords: Transgender identity, linguistic landscape, language and sexuality, BL series, multimodality, linguistic anthropology


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