Although the magical girl genre inspires cisgender girls and women, the genre also has the potential to do the same for transgender and non-binary people.
By Latonya Pennington
Originating in Japan as a sub genre of Japanese anime, the magical girl genre is known for young girls utilizing special abilities, femininity, and cuteness to save the world from evil. This year marks the 20th anniversary of two groundbreaking magical girl shows, Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena. While both shows are considered empowering for cisgender girls and women, I've come to relate to them and the entire magical girl genre differently as a Black femme non-binary demi-girl.
Of the two shows, Revolutionary Girl Utena has made the most impact on me as a non-binary person. The anime tells the story of a teen girl named Utena Tenjou. When Utena's parents die when she is a child, Utena is comforted by a young man known as “The Prince”, who gives her a ring that will lead her to him. Utena is so impressed by The Prince that she decides to become a Prince herself. The ring causes Utena to attend Otori Academy, where Utena becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving a series of duels surrounding the Rose Bride Anthy Himemiya.
Two years ago, Utena sparked my gender queer awakening because she was a girl who desired to be a Prince and liked wearing a boy's uniform at school. She validated my high school experiences of liking t-shirts and pants and short hair over long hair and overly feminine clothes. When Utena gets scolded for wearing a boy's uniform, she spoke to my experience of being told, "Girls should have long hair." Utena made me realize that if I didn't consider myself a girl, then I could become something else.
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