Disregard Canon, Acquire Representation: Naoto Shirogane is a Transman

Why accept the canon explanation when the story could be so much more interesting?

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This article deals with gender-related terminology. Any unfamiliar terms are available here easy reference.

Undeniably the most attractive characterThe Detective Prince

The Persona games are games set in the Shin Megami Tensei series, and feature a focus that is incredibly different from the main line. In each installment you play a silent protagonist that finds themselves able to awaken their inner self—a Persona, if you will—and enter a dark realm to do battle with monsters that represents the faults of the city they live in and the people around them. Through the course of the games you meet people that can also awaken their Personas, but they have to accept who they are, even the parts of themselves they don’t want to acknowledge. If they reject their faults, their Persona turns into a Shadow: a monster that desires only to be accepted by the person that spawned it, and will kill that person if they keep denying their Shadow.

Oh mister Shirogane~Does this look like a girl to you?

That bit of an infodump is important because Shadows and Personas are key parts of a character’s story arc and development. Through these you learn a lot about the characters you play with in a nontraditional method of character development. However, this isn’t the only major difference with the main Shin Megami Tensei line; while the main line deals with societal reform as a major story element, Persona deals more with interpersonal struggles—getting to know your friends and helping them grow past their issues and insecurities in society. The most recent game, Persona 4, features a character named Naoto Shirogane with a major story arc involving gender identity as a heavy element.

Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money. They can't be bought, bullied, or reasoned with.Some men want to watch the world burn.

When you first meet Naoto Shirogane, you know them as male; everyone uses male pronouns, and nobody assumes otherwise. As the game goes on, Naoto’s narrative focuses around chafing under the misogyny of the Japanese police system, and their dream to become a detective like their parents. Naoto also struggles with femininity, and this is a key element of their story arc. According to the canon story, Naoto just feels like being a man is the only way to accomplish their hopes and dreams in life. With the help of the protagonist, Naoto learns that’s not the case, and that being a woman isn’t bad.

Anime husband right hereNaoto has the largest bust out of the whole cast, and the game goes out of its way to de-emphasize that.

However, it seems that canon and authorial intent disagree with each other. Shigenori Soejima, the art and character designer of Persona, says that Naoto was intended to be male all along, which would make for a boring story that lacks the conflict of the canon story. Another thing is that Naoto responds negatively to being referred to as female. When students do it after acquiring Naoto as a party member, they’re very uncomfortable about it. When doing so during the Social Link scenes, it will cause you to lose Social Link points which are required to realize Naoto’s true potential. In the Japanese script there’s an event that if you pursue a relationship with Naoto, they’ll ask if it’s okay for them to use male pronouns. And while it’s a superficial detail, for almost all of the game Naoto wears a male student’s uniform to school. There’s still even more, however.

His Persona is so~ dreamy...Shadow Naoto(Left), Sukuna-Hikona(Right)

Except for the main character, all of the characters in Persona 4 have Shadows. There’s some aspect of themselves that they are rejecting, whether they know it or not. In the case of Naoto, it’s their gender. Their Shadow takes the form of a robot scientist version of Naoto, and in true Shadow fashion demands acceptance. However, it doesn’t threaten with death; it tries to erase the reason for the rejection. Shadow Naoto offers to make Naoto a man, offering to perform gender reassignment surgery upon Naoto’s body. This represents a key part of the trans identity, deciding if being trans—and transitioning—is something that’s right for you. Refusing this angers Shadow Naoto who turns on the party and they must defeat it. Defeated, Shadow Naoto turns into Sukuna-Hikona, a Japanese god of healing—also take into consideration that all of Naoto’s Personas are male mythical figures.

That collarbone!“Another night spent blocking people in the Naoto Shirogane tag on Tumblr.”

While canon says Naoto Shirogane is a woman, he reads like a transman. His story arc has elements that are present in trans narratives, his own Personas are all exclusively male, and he dresses in ways that emphasize his masculinity. And it’s really important we regard Naoto as a transman; beyond the fact that trans characters don’t get positive representation in media outside of their transition, transmen also do not get much representation as society focuses almost solely on the transition of transwomen. So, rather than accept the canon explanation, let’s embrace the opportunity to gain some representation!

Hello, everyone, and thank you for reading this far down! This has been the first installment of a column I will be doing called “Disregard Canon, Acquire Representation”! In this column, I will look at popular characters and explain why they’re in some way part of a group that’s marginalized by society, and why the canon should be disregarded in favor of representing marginalized people! If there are characters you’d like me to examine, let me know in the comments!

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About the Contributor

Since 2013

Obviously, I'm Robyn. I'm a nonbinary godmonster(my pronouns are ze/hir), into videogames, and other stuff. I'm back to writing about gender and videogames and why you're secretly trans for playing Metroid on an emulator.


  1. Hmmm…it’s an interesting interpretation, but I think this fails to take into account that this is a Japanese game. Naoto’s idea that she must be a man to accomplish her dreams addresses the very real issue of gender discrimination in the workplace in Japan, which is very high. Naoto realizes that it’s an obstacle and one that seems unconquerable, so she feels she can only overcome it by disguising herself as a man.

    When the protagonist convinces her that this is not the case, she realizes she can be a woman…but she doesn’t necessarily know how to (Japan is big on gender roles), so she is uncomfortable being referred to as such, as it leaves her out of her depth and that is something she hates as a detective. Could it be interpreted as Naoto identifying as a man, and thus he is uncomfortable when others refer to him as a woman? Sure, but I don’t think that was the intended interpretation. She was confused as to how she was supposed to act, as many people who play any sort of role are when said role is done. Furthermore, her Persona is not the first in the series to be of the opposite sex of its user.

    The game wasn’t trying to tackle the issue of transgenderism. It was criticizing how many women feel hopeless in the work place because of gender discrimination in Japanese society and Naoto served to assure players that it’s a hurdle that can be overcome.

    I think that transgenderism needs more representation in media, but I think Naoto is not a character who should serve that purpose. She was created to tackle an entirely different issue and I think it’s a bit of a disservice to deny her role in overcoming that issue for the sake of making her an icon of another issue.

    1. Yeah, that’s the canon interpretation. See Also: The name of this series of columns. My whole purpose with these columns is to give representation to myself and others who feel that video games don’t have characters that represent them. So yeah disregard canon, acquire representation.

      And the whole, “Girls you can succeed in a career!” thing has been done a /lot/ while the narrative of a transman’s transition has not. As well, your interpretation basically says, “With the encouragement of a man, women can strive to be equals in a male dominated world.” And doesn’t quite explain how in the Japanese script Naoto asks if it’s okay to use male pronouns, and the choice that gets Naoto to “accept” being a woman is “No, it’s weird for girls to use male pronouns.” Which is another part of the transition narrative, asking the people closest to you to respect your identity and refer to you by the pronouns you wish to be referred to by.

      1. Ya know, her problem was not about being male or female, but about age.
        Naoto problems were that the people in the police force didn’t consider her work valid because she was a kid trying to do the job of an adult.
        Even her shadow shows the mottifs of being a child wanting to growp up to have her opnion validated by older people, from dialogue to the design of the shadow itself (A toy robot figure with two toy laser guns).
        In the anime, Yu Narukami, Yosuke Hanamura and Teddy were hit by the lasers from Shadow Naoto’s guns, and guess what happens? They turn into old people instead of having their gender switched. Wouldn’t make sense in a Persona game to a person who have gender identity problems have any form of “attack” that would change the person’s gender instead of age.
        You took Naoto character and development and twisted soo danm hard that the only thing that i had in my mind was that Kermit “You’re 100% wrong” clip from the first till the last word of your text.

        1. It was very much not entirely about Naoto’s age. The word that is used frequently and emphasized is 子, which does mean child, and that was the initial interpretation of Naoto’s situation. The twist at the end of the dungeon was that the word 子 was actually referring to Naoto as a girl. And if you replace the word “child” with “girl” in the translation, it makes more sense. Think of the scene with Naoto’s shadow, with “child” replaced with “girl”.

          “You are but a girl. How can you change that essential truth?”
          “S-stop it!”
          “At your core, you admire the sort of ‘strong’ and ‘cool’ men who populate detective fiction. But in trying to emulate them, you must know that in truth, you’re nothing of the sort–you’re a girl. There’s no avoiding first principles…Admit that you’re a girl, and admit there’s nothing you can do about it.”

          Because the word 子 is ambiguous, this is a valid, alternate reading of the dialogue in Japanese. And otherwise, Naoto doesn’t have a reason to object so strongly. Obviously, a child will, one day, grow into an adult.

          But the shadow encounter isn’t the entire truth of each character, anyway. After all, Yukiko’s was about admitting that she didn’t want to inherit her family business, and she decides by the end of her social link that she does, in fact, want to inherit her family business. It wasn’t about deciding which aspect of her personality was true, but about admitting her own feelings to herself. If you read Naoto as trans, then his shadow encounter still doesn’t need to be focused on the gender aspects of his identity. He needs to admit to himself that he wants to be respected and feels that he isn’t. Both his age and his gender still contribute to his feeling of being disrespected, but he feels that he *would* be respected if and when he becomes his ideal self, which is a strong and cool adult man.

          I could read Naoto as cis if Naoto, after defeating her shadow, made her “debut” as a girl and shocked the whole school. Would have been an interesting scene. But he didn’t do that. He continued to use male pronouns, continued to present as masculine, and continued to show embarrassment and shame at any insinuation that he possessed female features.

          Honestly I read Naoto as more nonbinary than anything. Being male isn’t Naoto’s identity, it’s “easier”. But being female isn’t Naoto’s identity either. Naoto also doesn’t wear a binder, but a sarashi, which indicates a lack of familiarity with or even knowledge of the trans community. A sarashi takes a lot of time and work to put on. And still, Naoto thinks this daily, time-consuming task is easier than presenting as female. (Alternatively, the authors have no understanding of trans issues, but I’m deliberately ignoring that.)

      2. Yeah, completely ignore what Naoto actually represents for both females and age and intentionally cause misinformation about the character, that’s positive. Why should Atlus give a shit about what some idiots in the west can’t understand or purposefully misinterprets? The games they make are not specifically made to suit your interests, that goes for everyone else too. If they bent over to suit everyone’s wants (not needs), they’d most likely go down in quality.

        Just let them tell their stories the way they want to.

    1. Shadow naoto was never going to give Naoto a gender reassignment surgery, if you paid attention the “surgery” was to increase her age as shown in the anime, also Naoto being a girl was never a big part in her struggles in the story although that was present that was never the reason why she struggles with her life its was mainly to do with her age and how the police force treat her as a child and her need to be taken seriously.
      In the end you can not change the fact that SHE was a cross-dresser who was afraid of being called a child and not being taken seriously, and has now has accepted that she is a woman who does not have to be older to be a great detective.

      She was never trans, if your version of trans is someone who dresses up as the opposite gender then i must say your definition of trans is just wrong.

  2. Okay, so. I genuinely think that Naoto’s base storyline was intended to be a comment on gender discrimination in the Japanese workforce (which is much worse than it is here, or so I’m told), as I’m sure has been pointed out to you a lot, and I think there’s value in the narrative. And that maybe we in the west don’t feel the full weight of that narrative because of societal differences. We may have had plenty of stories about women overcoming adversity in the workforce in the past, but there hasn’t been so much in Japan. I get that.

    However. It CAN’T be denied that Atlus uses a lot of trans coding, iconography, and tropes in Naoto’s plotline and character interactions. The fact that one of Naoto’s shadow’s Big Things is surgery at all (even if it were true that said surgery was about Naoto’s age, like some claim) should cause bells to ring in your head, the whole concept of “changing” your body to be satisfied/at peace with it, the references to body/gender dysphoria, the scene where he asks if he can use masculine pronouns in the original Japanese release (side note: yes, I’m aware that pronouns function differently between english and japanese, hence “masculine” instead of “male”, but I’ve read explicitly trans narratives from Japan before and this part of the script is…. let;s say, very, very trans), ect ect ect.

    And I think the key word here is “used”. Atlus USED this coding, these framing devices and trans-alluding scenes and phrasing, not because they wanted to make an honest, thoughtful comment of gender identity or tell a trans story, but because they wanted to prop up their underlying narrative of Naoto as just “a woman trying to escape an unfair sexist system”. This is a common thing I see aimed at trans men like me, that we’re just women frustrated with gender roles, we’re just women who want to escape sexism, we’re just women who suffer from internalized misogyny and need to Embrace Our Womanhood. It’s this dangerous idea that being a trans man isn’t a valid feeling, a valid identity, a valid way of experiencing the world and ourselves, we’re just “women who just need to taught that its okay to be woman and that out full potential is as women”. (side note: and this is part of why it’s so hard to find historical trans men; all of them, once discovered, were immediately branded as “woman who disguised themselves as men to escape their circumstances/get into a profession they otherwise couldn’t. And that’s not to say that never happened, especially when things were much worse in the past, but…… you see the problem,,)

    Persona 4 did Not have to use trans coding with Naoto to get across the idea of a woman trying to operate under a sexist system. It did not. And you could argue that at least Naoto pretending to be a boy in and of itself was justified because that has, in fact, been a real thing in the past and the game was commenting on that, and…. well, I won’t dismiss that outright. I don’t think its a story or an idea thats damned from the start. The problem is that the trans coding is beyond the premise, it’s in Naoto’s dialogue, it’s in the iconography of their Personas and dungeon, it’s in the way other characters talk to and about Naoto and how those interactions ring the bells of “oh, I’ve seen that almost verbatim on some transphobes blog before”, “oh, I usually see that kind of reaction/phrase when someone’s discussing EXPLICITLY trans people/characters” in my head.

    Atlus, in at LEAST partial knowledge, used these things in Naoto’s plotline. For what reason? As a punchline. A plot-twist. Window-dressing. And a furthering of their own mindset, their own worldview, that “women who wish to be men” are denying their “true nature”, that they are and always will be, inescapably, “women”. A worldview that has proved dangerous and damaging to people like myself. They don’t think about us except in that they want to use bits and pieces of our stories as window-dressing and gags. (seriously though. Not feeling me on the “punchline” thing? remember the gags about Naoto having the biggest bust of the group, the school festival where Naoto won the pageant (despite extremely discomfort at being scrutinized in a women only contest) because of all the female students voting for them, the side-stepping of the Kanji’s sexuality and ‘gay panic’ with the reveal of Naoto being dfab, the snide comments on Naoto imitating male heroes and detectives, the “detective prince” title that’s treated like an ironic joke once Naoto begins to attend school, ect ect ect. It’s not always super in-your-face, but the subtext is Always there.)

    Anyways…… I don’t really have a conclusion to this, honestly, but I felt the need to type/post it because maybe it’ll help someone understand better why the framing of Naoto’s character and plotline bother so many people. A lot of it is subtext and heavily entrenched in coding and insidious (but widespread) mindsets, so I understand why people thing it’s more clear-cut than it really is. I, a trans man myself, didn’t even pick up on some of it until recently, and it’s been YEARS since I started discussing the game at length with people. But hopefully what I’ve said here will help someone understand just a little bit better, whether they fully agree or not, and will make them more aware of these kinds of things on other media.

    And maybe one day, we won’t have to disregard canon so much to get the representation we need.

    1. FWIW, I think a lot of that subtext is at its worst if you take Naoto to be a transman, which I don’t believe to be the game’s intent and as such I don’t believe that it presents the view that ‘“women who wish to be men” are denying their “true nature”’. I don’t think they are used well, on the whole, but they are generally snide remarks that can be taken as “she’s not male because she’s a woman” and not “he’s not male because he’s a transman”. The game conflates being trans and being a woman presenting as male without wanting to BE male, but I felt it came from being poorly thought-out rather than being actively malicious.

      There’s also the possibility that some of the random student remarks _are_ intended to be transphobic and that you _aren’t_ supposed to like it – let’s not forget that perhaps one of the game’s biggest downfalls is that Yosuke makes explicitly homophobic comments without being called out on it (I think again the character was ignorant rather than deliberately malicious, and subtlety came around on it, but somebody should have taken him to task WAY earlier in the game).

      1. Yosuke’s homophobic comments never sat well with me, particularly because he was never called out on it, but it’s worth pointing out that at some point he was a romance option with the protagonist before it was removed from the game. It’s still in the game files.


        So that, at least, gives me the impression that he was lashing out from inside his closet.

  3. > When doing so during the Social Link scenes, it will cause you to lose Social Link points which are required to realize Naoto’s true potential.

    When exactly does this come up? The only explicit mention I recall is the choice between “I’m glad you’re a girl” -> sets lovers flag and “Your gender doesn’t matter” -> S.Link Bonus, where _both_ are positive outcomes.

    > There’s some aspect of themselves that they are rejecting, whether they know it or not. In the case of Naoto, it’s their gender. […] Shadow Naoto offers to make Naoto a man, offering to perform gender reassignment surgery upon Naoto’s body. This represents a key part of the trans identity, deciding if being trans—and transitioning—is something that’s right for you.

    This ignores a fairly key part of how the TV world, and by extension Shadows, work. They are formed of humanity’s _collective_ unconsciousness, and aren’t necessarily a true reflection of a person’s hidden desires. In the hospital scene Shadow Namatame gloats not because that is something he is suppressing, but due to the unconscious influence of the Investigation Team, as explained later: https://youtu.be/8drHuB7AipE?t=1938 As such, the behaviour of Shadow Naoto can be seen as _society_ assuming Naoto must be trans to act as she does, rather than being a true understanding of her motivations.

    IMO, the arc makes more sense as Naoto not fitting the traditional age (the Shadow also states “Still only a child in their eyes”)/gender roles for her desired profession, and that she has forced herself to align with them (to the point where she is uncomfortable acting outside of them), rather than wanting to be male per se. The realisation/moral is that she can pursue being a detective _without_ rejecting her gender identity. Pushing it further, to her being a transman, is less interesting IMO – wanting to go into a male-dominated profession, whilst (essentially) being a man, undercuts the game’s themes of people being pushed around by and bowing to societal pressure. I feel that Naoto being trans doesn’t fit how the character (not her Shadow) discusses her gender, nor does it fit the broader themes of the game, and mechanically the elements that point most strongly to being trans (i.e. the Shadow) aren’t necessarily a true reflection of the character.

    You can see parallels in Kanji’s character – there is a _societal_ presumption that he must be gay because of his hobbies and interests. I know it’s often seen as side-stepping the issue, but I like the fact that they _didn’t_ make him gay. It felt like a natural portrayal of someone who is confused about and questioning their sexuality, and it would have felt very stereotypical to go down the route of “man who likes making dolls turns out to be gay”. Perhaps pairing him with Naoto was not the best choice, but I believe the intent was to highlight those parallels, rather than, e.g., being relief that he is not gay when Naoto is revealed to be female.

  4. You’re a fool. Naoto is a WOMAN. You simply have no understanding of Japanese culture. She doesn’t want to be a man because she feels like a man, she wants to be a man because she wants to be seen as a detective, which does not happen in Japan if you are a woman. That’s the only reason why she pretended to be a man in the first place. Stop pushing this stupid idea what Naoto is a man. While Naoto may have been first thought up as a man by the creators, they decided to make her a woman. So she’s a woman.

    1. The author wasn’t trying to argue that Naoto is, canonically, a trans man, or was meant to be read as one, because she isn’t. Their point (albeit delivered hamfistedly) was that Naoto’s storyline could have been much stronger and tied more closely into the themes of the game if Naoto *had* been a trans man, or if they had simply gone more indepth with the complex aspects of gender and how it relates to one’s perception of themselves and their role in society. And also that, while Naoto was not written to BE a trans man, they used a lot of trans coding in her storyline (a focus on surgery/body alteration and being “unhappy with oneself”, Naoto’s discomfort with femininity and even asking to use masculine first person pronouns (in the original japanese version) even after becoming more comfortable with the group and working past many of her issues, ect. Trust me, there’s a lot more than that, and it’s more stark than I make it sound here, I just don’t have the time/energy to get Into it rn), which was an intentional choice by Atlus. Those aspects of Naoto’s characterization and arc can end up feeling unfulfilled, underexplained, and out of place against the fact that she isn’t trans, and so many people would have either liked to see those elements changed or examined more closely, or would have liked to see them used to lead into a proper arc for an actually trans character.

      Tbh, I’m not the biggest fan of the way this article is written, and it fails to fully explain *why* the trans coding in Naoto’s arc might leave many wanting for a different approach than what we got, but I am glad that it lead to one thing; a little more discussion on it (well, sometimes lol). It’s *fine* that Naoto is a woman. I don’t argue that she isn’t. I’m not saying her canonical arc isn’t worth merit. But I think a closer look at how that arc played out, what writing tools were used in it, and a discussion on how it could have been spun differently is also worth it to talk about.

      1. I disagree. Lacking acceptance and being uphappy with one’s self isn’t exclusive to transpeople. It’s a part of growing up. I went through it, as someone who isn’t trans, and a lot of teenagers go through a period where they’re unhappy with theirselves. You could argue that all of the main characters (aside from Narukami) go through this during the game, as shown by their shadows. Parts of themselves they refuse to admit.

        I knew Japanese females that used their male pronouns for themselves. They just feel more comfortable using it. It isn’t really a big deal. People may think these girls are weird at worst.

        Being uncomfortable with feminity is a tomboy issue. Satonaka also has a slight issue with this, like with the fear of insects being seen as girly. It’s a common trope in fiction, and you can see this with real people as well.

        She also continues to use male clothing. It doesn’t mean it’s “trans coding”. She wore those clothes for a long time. And she’s comfortable. As someone who had a similar “formal” (for lack of a better word) clothing style, I’d feel odd in different clothes.

        It wouldn’t really have been stronger if she was a transman. The matter of gender discrimination in the police would be irrelevant. It would just make her (him) want to transition more.

        Her story as a woman actually spoke to me far better than it would if she were a transmale. Especially with how strong and enforced gender roles are in Japanese society. The peer pressure is often too strong and prevalent to not conform.

        It would’ve been far more predictable and less compelling if she were transgender and not really interesting to me.

  5. Cis people being mad in the comments and/or being so thoroughly boring and unimaginative…god it’d be hilarious if it wasn’t also incredibly dangerous/unfortunate. The gender dysphoria angle isn’t far fetched, you simply have to use your brain a little, and ma-a-a-aybe even have some originality, class, compassion and resistance to black-and-white thinking in your heart–and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the intent of this column so much everything is very deliberate and strongly expressed–but dang these comments. Like smelly, unwashed 4-year-olds trying to teach Einstein while they’re working up to a tantrum. Robin and Remi made excellent points. And the younger me definitely would have been more inclined to believe that the writers were compassionately concerned about Naoto and IRL trans people up until the point where Atlus presented a brick wall of “that won’t go over well with testing/it’s taboo to be more than just barely tolerant of the gender minority of modern-day society/we want money, some press can be gained from acerbic outraged discussion drama and perceived quirkiness, and this is a business so lmao let’s make it as unethical as possible”–however, Remi made some amazing points. I am so thrilled to see us being allowed to express our concerns instead of being mocked. The reason I’m even here is because of an article on Waypoint about “Catherine: Full Body”s Rin and how our narratives often suck because cis people try to lead them; our stories are led by people who can barely understand, have NO compassion (contrary to my previous speculation), and don’t want to do anything but villainize us after 1st doing a manipulative and two-faced, gigantic bait-and-switch, if that. Rin got so much worse.

  6. Thanks a lot for this article. Persona 4 was never a personal favorite of mine, disregarding the treatment of the LGBT characters, since I never found its story or atmosphere personally appealing (was always more of a Persona 3 fan). However, as a trans man myself, Naoto has always been an exceptionally relatable character for me, even before I recognized myself as transgender. I have never been much of an emotional person, but unfortunately, the way that Naoto was treated throughout the entirety of the game always upset me pretty significantly. And even worse than the actual treatment of Naoto in the game is how a lot of people blatantly defended the characterization. The idea of representation in media is really great and all, but if Atlus does not include LGBT characters in their games, then it is not a big deal to me. The problem is not the lack of LGBT representation; the problem stems from the fact that characters are in fact depicted as LGBT, yet those labels are often ripped out from underneath them, they are vilified, or the characters are socially pressured into conforming gendered standards in the end.

    Seeing at least someone, albeit a minority of the players it would sadly seem, actually dissect the nuanced characterization of Naoto and not just automatically label them as cisgendered (“because Japan”) is a nice change of pace. This trope with transgender men is exploited time and time again within Japanese media, and the little existing representation of transgender men is almost unanimously counterproductive, where the character will pretty much always “accept their femininity” in the end. And while representation is nice, I know that I would prefer no representation at all as opposed to representation which is simply harmful.

  7. I don’t have much to say except thank you to all who tried to explain Naoto’s story in its full, complex glory despite the sheer amount of people trying to convince us otherwise and calling us delusional despite us doing our best to explain ourselves. I completely agree with the interpretation of Naoto wanting to be neither male nor female.

  8. I agree with you if you think Naoto’s NOT a trans man (regardless what each individual in the writer’s group might have wanted the story to be). I also have some info you might not know — it might explain why so many LGBT people believe/hope/insist Naoto’s trans. Here are some facts:
    1) While the label “trans” is often interpreted differently (even among trans people themselves), the term is often used to refer to non-binary people because they take hormones like many trans people.
    2) Non-binary people are real. Now, what that MEANS is that people who identify as NB do so for diverse reasons (all of which are “real” regardless if they include dysphoria, which is an impairing feeling of distress coming from disgust at presence of a body part that your brain says is not supposed to be present/abscent). One reason for idenifying as NB is dysphoria from having breasts, but no dysphoria from female genitals. As I theorize, the culprit may be the failure of NB people’s neural maps to develop alongside their puberty because of minor chemical complications during pregnancy. I could be wrong. An NB person will still be an NB person regardless, because they deserve to be happy if it simply means ignoring their sex and the way it informs our treatment of them.
    3) If being a man for Naoto is practical, especially when Naoto’s not wearing the chest-compressing binder/bandage thingie, then we can assume Naoto wishes to be treated as one. If it’s out of fear for a sexist society, that sucks, and Naoto shouldn’t expect been made to hide their breasts for the rest of the game. A lot of trans people would sympathize with a woman having to be uncomfortable in her own skin to be treated normally, whether as a detective or a person.
    4) However, Naoto expresses clearly uncomfortable feelings from being seen as female. If Naoto tries to be a “man” out of begrudgent practicality and not comfort, they aren’t actually helping their discomfort go away. As far as I know, being “man” or “woman” or “male” or “female” doesn’t make them content. Instead they have to compromise — and even compromise makes it hard, because people then see Naoto as a “boy” (a “child”) when they’re clearly fine with being treated like a young/early adult. This leaves one option:
    5) Naoto is non-binary, or as it’s called in Japan, “Xgender.” Yes, Japan has LGBT people, a good portion of which use English words for “gay” “lesbian” “transgender” and the like. Yes, Japan has a problem with LGBT people being misunderstood and rejected. Students feel discomfort and isolation when being themselves in Japanese society, according to statistics. Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Japan, and despite it being a consenting partnership between two adults, it seems like there’s a phantom problem being perceived by lawmakers.
    6) The origin of this phantom problem is rediculously misinformed, because extensive research has shown male and female brains to be essentially 99% structurally the same. Males and females ARE socialized differently, which is why they act in a bunch of different ways. But there are no known benefits to socializing males and females differently. There is no know benefit to exclusively supporting male-female partnerships despite both having the potential to be completely similar in the ways they refer to themselves, dress, chose hobbies, chose which sex to date, etc. That’s not to say they SHOULD be the same, but they can be and there are quite a few examples of people living happily like this. Some people even have neural body maps that by accident are structurally identical to the opposite sex’s sex-specific map. This seems to be because of veeeery minor, chemically-sized difficulties in body formation during pregnancy.
    7) What would you lose if a character was female but liked being called a “he?” Or flatten their breasts? Would they be less pretty than the girls you’re into (assuming that you’re into girls)? Would people call you transphobic if you say you’re not into them because they’re trans? Probably.
    8) What if this character also took testosterone to have their voice drop and shoulders broaden thanks to exercise? What if a straight woman saw them and found them pretty, maybe even attractive? What if the straight woman found out their sex? Would she be afraid of being called gay? Do you think this is fair to this woman? Whose fault do you think her fear existing is? SHOULD she be afraid?
    9) She shouldn’t. YOU shouldn’t be afraid for finding sex-specific body parts attractive, even if they’re not matched to other body parts. You SHOULD’T be afraid of finding BOTH female and male parts attractive. You SHOULD’T be afraid that someone’s gonna forcefully do surgery on your body. You SHOULD’T be afraid that someone has done a surgery/took hormones/exercised/put on clothes to make themselves happy and comfortable. It’s NOT scary. Many people argue it’s scary and dangerous BECAUSE they’re scared and they don’t know why.
    10) Trans people know why you’re scared. Gay people know why you’re scared. We felt the same fear and overcame it so we can have love lives and happy families. Please let us show you that we found no boogeyman after looking under the bed, that you deserve to be comfortable, that you shouldn’t be shamed for your feelings because, apparently, they’re NORMAL, naturally occurring around the globe, and can’t hurt us or you.
    11) If I sucessfully conveyed any eye-opening facts to you, or if you, through research, found support for my explanation and dispelled your own fear, go ahead and share what you’ve learned with LGBT people who yell/curse at you, call you sexist, call you homophobic, call you transphobic, call you dumb, call you hateful, and call you scary. They do this because they’re scared. They shouldn’t be scared of you because somebody else kicked them out of homes, spread rumors that they’re dangerous, or fully believed they’re walking trash.
    12) Please understand that scientists and others who search for solutions to problems that complicate our lives have already (loooong) ago realized the fears I’ve listed above AREN’T worth our time, not to mention fears unrelated to LGBT stuff. Please understand that scientists are really bad at explaining how the world worms, and reporters are often very bad at science. Most importantly, please be careful, critical, analytical, and empathetic in what you believe when reading something. This includes me. Check any of my claims. If I might’ve gotten one or two wrong, I’m confident my overall theory still stands. Hell, I might also be completely wrong, and that’s why I hope people never stop being curious and ready to prove my fears wrong. Because sometimes it’s good to learn the world’s a better place than you thought.

  9. You’re an idiot projecting western viewpoint into a Japanese game about Japanese problem.

    Workplace misogyny is a critical issue, and with her job as a detective/cop, a highly traditionally masculine job, it’s doubly important.

    Naoto is not a trans, never trans, never will be trans. That’s why in the end she accepted herself, her femininity, and stops crossdressing.

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