Headscratchers: Tokyo Godfathers
Okay, I've watched the movie through, and I'm still not sure. Was Hana supposed to be a Camp Gay
crossdresser, or a transsexual
? It feels like the writers either couldn't decide, or didn't know there was actually a difference.
- I think she is a transsexual. She seems to identify with being a woman, as opposed to merely liking to dress in women clothes, so she is not just a crossdresser.
- Hana even says something like "God made a mistake with me, in my heart I am a woman".
- No, crossdresser. When they go the hospital, the doctor refers to Hana as "he" in conversation with Gin. Since he's giving advice on what Hana should do, he must have examined Hana before this conversation. Ergo, he knows Hana is physically male. Also, Hana uses the self-descriptions "homo" and "queer" several times. If Hana were a transsexual, she would identify herself as a heterosexual woman and wouldn't use those terms. (We know Hana prefers men because, as Miyuki notices, he loves Gin.) In the original Japanese, Hana uses the self-descripton "okama", which is a slang term for a homosexual male, especially a crossdresser.
- Hana's physical gender has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's not like she could afford an opperation if she wanted one. Hana explicitly states that she’s a woman in her heart, and says that she always fantasized about being a mother with a husband. One of the implied reasons she’s so obsessed with motherhood and taking care of Kiyoko is that it’s a way she can be a woman; she can’t retroactively make it so she was born female, she can’t make it so people see her as a woman, but she can take care of a child. When Hana’s being melodramatic and talking about what she wants and how she wants to be seen, she uses feminine language. When’s she’s feeling down about herself or is referring to the way people see her, she uses masculine language. This alone is enough to qualify her as transgender.
- I was under the impression that Hanna considers herself a woman at heart and probably would like to have an operation, but that since she doesn't have the money for that she just kinda rolls with it at people identifying her as a male homosexual, even if it that is not quite what she would prefer it.
- Yes, the doctor's identification of her physical sex has nothing to do with her gender, and a doctor wouldn't always use an individual's actual identity while referring to them. As for her usage of 'queer' and 'homo', 'queer' is basically an umbrella term for any non-straight sexual identity, and we don't know her previous attachments outside of Gin. Using 'homo' could be an exaggeration, or maybe Gin is even an exception and using the term while excluding him. It's hard to know, but she really seems to qualify as trans*.
- The problem is that Japanese and Japanese culture doesn’t work like we Westerners are accustomed to. The term used for Hana is okama, which is anywhere from ‘somewhat effeminate gay man’ to ‘transwoman’—basically, ‘someone whose expected to adhere to masculine standards of behaviour and doesn’t’. The Japanese language is mostly non-gendered in the sense that there is a grammatical agreement based on gender in verbs and adjectives, and the modern, gendered third-person pronouns are often replaced by ano hito ‘that person’. However, women do use their own language patterns, in intonation, in added formality, in preference of native vocabulary over Sino-Japanese, and using feminine particles over male ones (e.g. feminine kashira instead of masculine kamo (shirenai), ‘maybe, I wonder’). So judging by the translation is something you should avoid in favour of listening to how she speaks Japanese, which, as far as I can recall, is very feminine.