That was me. And this is not a short post.
First off, I didn’t ask to stay anonymous out of any sense of shame or regret. The people in my life deserved to hear about me from me, and not because they happened to read my webcomic’s tumblr. I am so, so lucky to live in a time and place where I have been able to tell everyone I care about, without fear of recrimination or being disowned. As weird and scary as this has been, the level of acceptance I’ve gotten has warmed my heart and brought me to tears.
Of course, I haven’t told anyone at work. But luckily, none of them internet.
Realizing that I’m transgender was a long time coming. It’s astonishing what you can hide from yourself, when you’re afraid of what it means. But as I told Christina at gayfandomblog—who has been so sweet and supportive and wonderful, by the way—Legend of Korra’s third season and the Korrasami fandom were really what made me really come to terms with this facet of myself.
I’m not a shipper, typically, I exist on the internet, so I’m aware of it. I can’t think of another time I’ve actually gotten invested in the romantic fates of fictional characters. Before Book Three, Korrasami seemed like a crack ship, an amusing solution to the execrable love triangle from seasons one and two.
Then Book Three. Change. Indeed.
I watched the show unfold, watched these two women flirt and laugh and support each other. I’d gone in hoping to see no romance at all for the rest of the show, and instead I got actual, adorable chemistry from a direction I’d never dared consider. Korra never had a girlfriend to talk to or hang out with before.
This was nice.
I so, so needed to live in a world where Korrasami could happen, could be canon in a family show. Being able to witness that sort of social progress, knowing how many young people that a canon non-heterosexual pairing would mean the whole world to… just thinking about it made the world seem brighter, and more hopeful.
So I geeked out about it. A lot. One might even say I fangirled. I didn’t find the term objectionable.
One of my friends, however, got tired of hearing about it all the time. “Why can’t you just watch a show? Why do you have to get so excitable?”
Why did I? The question was innocent enough, but it struck me. I wondered. And I kept thinking about all the Korrasami subtext in the show, all the art and fics and fanons bandying about the Korrasami community, how defensive I felt every time someone insisted that Korrasami couldn’t happen, was impossible, was outright wrong…
And the two characters just kept getting closer. Korra faced arguably the most personal challenge of her life, matured but still vulnerable. And Asami, dear Asami was always THERE. Smiling, even when she had to force it. Fierce and protective. Loyal and kind and loving.
At some point, I realized, even if it was subtextual, these two animated women were having one of the most enviable relationships I’d ever seen. Based not upon simple sexual attraction or social convenience, but upon mutual respect and complimentary personalities. I identified so strongly with Korra, and how could I not wish to have an Asami in my life?
The first time I gathered the courage to tell someone I’m transgender, I was talking to her about Korrasami. Fangirling, yet again. She said she loved how much thought I’d invested into it, my little fanons. I told her I could really relate, to Asami and Korra both. And then I told her just how much. Korrasami provided the context for that admission. That finally made it real, made it official. I couldn’t hide from myself any more.
And I felt better.
Currently, I’m not sure about the hows and whens of transitioning. I was never comfortable as a guy, but I can’t expect to fall into girl with no effort. Trying to pass as female for the first time is scary, it’s a lot of work and a big chance for all my insecurity to boil over. But there’s a big comic convention in my state every year, and I’ve resolved to attend next year. Cosplaying Asami Sato. Even if I try to dress female beforehand, that’ll be learning, rehearsal. The first time I will spend a day entirely dressed as the gender I wish to be, I’ll be dressed as the Avatar’s girlfriend. Or possibly fiance. I think a gear motif might look good on a water-tribe betrothal necklace, yes?
I may need tips on the hair (SO PRETTY). Also, the everything else.
It all boils down to what I said in my message to Christina: Representation Matters. I managed to make it to thirty without realizing this about myself, because the cultural narrative we have is so heteronormative that every glimpse I got within, I jerked my gaze away. I spent a decade and a half ambivalent toward my own body because I lacked an example that I could relate to. Then Korrasami came along and rattled the cage of my preconceptions. An at-best-subtextual relationship between two fictional characters. How different might my life had been if I’d had that when I was Korra’s age? Or Aang’s? And how dare, how DARE anyone think it’s their right to take that little bit of representation away from the people who need it? Even—or especially—if some of us didn’t know how much?
There’s no way to know how much easier this might have been, had I come across something like Korrasami sooner. And yes, I do feel a little silly that an action cartoon led me to a personal revelation, but not at all ashamed. Good writing isn’t limited to any form, any genre, or any target audience. Insight strikes from the strangest angles, and revelations have no interest in your dignity.
So, to Christina at gayfandomblog, to everyone who liked or commented or reblogged their original post, to everyone in the community who has been so supportive, of me and each other, thank you.
And to Bryke, whether Korrasami was on your mind in Book 3 or it’s one big well-intentioned misread of a friendship that got more intimate than you intended, thank you. Thank you for these characters. Thank you for this world. Thank you for making them real enough to see myself in.
Because it was the only way I was able to.
I’m so happy for you!
And I’m sorry that my first thought was, “No way. He’s such a guy!”
As for Asami’s hair: I would braid my hair the night before, and go to sleep with wet hair. In the morning, take out the braid and just brush it out. Voila! Loose curls! I think this method makes the curls last longer than using hot curlers, at least for people like us with really straight hair. As for getting it the right color, *shrugs* I don’t have much hair dye experience. I’m sure you can find a temporary dye box at a place like Ulta or maybe even Target.