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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Gendercrossing Cliche

You know the one - the one where Terry, who prefers the opposite sex, meets Chris, who is of the same sex, and falls in love and therefore Terry is confused about sexual preference - to the point of deciding that the actual preference is for the same sex, only to find out that Chris is, indeed, of the opposite sex and therefore all is well. Clearly Terry sensed that Chris was the appropriate gender from the begining. It's a plot as old as, and very probably older than, Shakespeare.

And I just finished reading a novel where that was a background plot, and as I read it, I began to feel bad - if the real young man decided he was in love with another one, it means he's either always known he was gay or bi, or loves the false young man enough to transcend that (yeah, basis of slash stories.) And so, when he discovers the truth, he's more likely to feel anger than pleasure or relief, and since the person in the boy's clothes is a different person - one who lied to him - he might need time to sort out his feelings.

I sort of covered this in the Sweetcheeks series, where Blair falls in love with the very straight-acting Jim Ellison, only to find that he's been hiding his true queenlike self. I wrote it for laughs at first, but by the end, I knew it was a real problem that would have to be addressed.

As it happens in the novel, the real young man figured out that it was a young woman *first*, and then fell in love, which was perfect. He also understood that the reason she lied was to get the sort of job she loved but couldn't get in that medieval fantasy setting as a woman. In fact, when they married, it was to form a partnership using her considerable skills in that area. All good, you see.

I also watched Victor/Victoria yesterday. And - aside from the fact that no one could look a Julie Andrews and not see and hear "woman", even with short hair, men's clothes and a deepened voice - it was the same plot. And James Garner, who had led himself to accept the fact that he was attracted to a (extremely feminine) man, to the point that he was spying on 'Victor" in his bath, was entirely relieved, despite the fact that he'd possibly been assuming fantasizing about an very different set of parts.

Of course, "Yay! I'm not gay!" is probably a reasonable reaction for that particular character in that place and time. Or even later, thinking about Chris in the Morning on Northern Exposure and his crush on the monk who turned out to be female.


(a) I wonder if the novel you read is the one I think it is.
(b) I was just watching clips from Victor/Victoria on YouTube this morning, starting with "Le Jazz Hot". I don't know -- I think that some of the costuming was chosen specifically to make her look more like a man-pretending-to-be-a-woman -- the choker, for example, and the way some of the costumes make her look more broad-shouldered-triangular than her natural (hourglassy) shape. The situation there -- see, the spying-in-the-bath thing, I did not read as spying on someone to get hot & bothered. I think he was spying on her because he suspected that Count Victor might not actually be male, and was trying to confirm it. (And I think he was probably freakin' out & mentally glossing over the possible boy bits in his fantasizing, too.)

And if you look very closely at the bathtub scene, you will notice that what we see from behind when Garner's character peeps in is actually a visibly male back and shoulders. (I think Edwards swapped Julie out with a male body double to make the viewers empathize with the Garner character's confusion.)

Huh. No, I never noticed that. I'm not great at noticing things like that, anyway.

It was by Robin McKinley, if that helps.

The costuming might have helped, but Julie Andrew's face and voice are just so feminine...I don't know. I know they were making her into a languid, slender boy. It had to be part of the joke, of course.

I'm not sure what would have happened if Victor hadn't been really Victoria.

It was by Robin McKinley, if that helps.

Then it's the book I was thinking of, yes. What do you think of it so far?

In my head, they have a torrid affair and then split up when King can't handle the pressure.

What I find most unbelievable about that movie is that a singer as talented and lovely as Julie Andrews would be struggling to find work.

We're not thinking of the same book. I'm talking about Rose Daughter. Which one are you thinking of?

And, yes. That didn't make sense, either.

I was thinking of Rose Daughter.

The comment about King was about if Victor had really been Victor, not about the book.


Okay. I'd hope they'd have an affair, too, but I'm biased.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Yes, I remember that one!

I assume you're talking about bandom, of which I'm profoundly ignorant.

See the folksong "The Handsome Cabin Boy" http://supersearch.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=6428

Searching at mudcat.org on the keyword "transvestite" brings up almost fifty folksongs. Most, if not all, seem to be about women disguised as men.

Yes, that's the most common meme. It's rare you see the opposite - the only one that comes to mind is To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, where John Leguizamo's character fools a young man. (To those who've see the original, does something similar happen in Priscilla, Queen of the Jungle?) and, of course, MZB's Hawkmistress!

The Delia Sherman fantasy novel, Through a Brazen Mirror, uses the 'young woman disguised as a man' plot. The ladies swoon, and the king falls in love with him, only to be sadly disappointed when he finds out that the object of his affections is actually a woman.

Nod. I own that novel.

And king still offers to marry her as the solution to his problems. But she likes dressing as a man and refuses.

(It does remind me a bit of Aral and Cordelia from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosiverse. Aral is bisexual, but skewed towards soldiers, and his planet doesn't have women in the military. Cordelia, who is a ship's captain, solves that nicely. Although he still has very, very pretty young officers as his secretaries. Aral likes the eye candy, even if he won't touch.)

With his father and his mother, I've always found Miles's reaction to Bel Thorne fascinating. There's a touch of herm-phobia about it, which I think is Miles being attracted and being fascinatingly Barrayaran in his reaction to the attraction.

He's such a galactic -- even so Betan in some other ways -- that it really stands out. To Bel, too, obviously....

Thorne grinned. "You got it. You're an almost perfect Betan, y'know? Almost. You have the accent, the in-jokes..."

Miles went a little still. "Where do I fail?"

Thorne touched Miles's cheek; Miles flinched.

"Reflexes," said Thorne.

Of course, "Yay! I'm not gay!" is probably a reasonable reaction for that particular character in that place and time. Or even later, thinking about Chris in the Morning on Northern Exposure and his crush on the monk who turned out to be female.

Yes, I remember Chris was definitely "Yay, I'm not gay!" but he couched it in terms of it just being a big change to his identity because he had always been very straight. It seems like this is different for men than women. On The L Word one of the characters says "most women are straight until they're not."

I wonder what is appealing about this story. On one hand it's like the fairy tale--because you can love the person no matter what's on the outside, you'll get what's on the inside too. Almost like stories where the person falls in love with a crone or an animal who turns into a beautiful girl/boy after sex. (I assume you understand I'm not saying that gay=ugly or gay=animal, just that it's playing on the "inappropriate sex object" idea)

At the same time it also kind of gets into the question of where attraction lies. Would the James Garner character have really been attracted to Julie Andrews if she'd really been a man? I tend to think no. Because I think it's possible for somebody to be passing as a different gender while maybe sending out things the body unconsciously responds to as the real gender. (A transsexual, I would speculate, would send out "signals" of their true gender--not the one their body showed when they were born.)

I'm here via metafandom. 15 to 20 years ago, I read a medieval romance novel with this plot. A Harlequin Historical romance of all things. She was basically raised as a boy because the family had some political enemies trying to kill them and actually succeeded in killing her mother. The father decided this was the best way to hide his family, since they'd wouldn't be looking for a man with 2 sons.

Our plucky heroine wants nothing more than to be a knight. Between the training for that and the hiding, she sort of grows up gender-neutral. Of course, she meets a man and falls in love, but can't see herself with him because she is, above all things, a (wanna-be) knight and knights don't fraternize. It doesn't quite occur to her that he's straight and thinks she's male. The hero also falls in love, despite his best efforts to ignore his own feelings. Mostly he's concerned about the fact that he's suddenly jonesing for a boy.

And then he decides that he can't deny his feelings and he's going to go for it! This self-acceptance (albeit reluctant) was quite progressive, I thought. Of course, during the going for it, he discovers that she has womanly attributes and is terribly relieved. Still, we're left with a heroine who's got gender issues and a hero who's sort of a bisexual. I still don't know how that made it into a Harlequin. I always wished I had kept track of the name or the author.

If you want to find the book, you might try whatwasthatbook. They don't always come through, but people do try. Also, Smart Bitches Trashy Books does occasional title searches like that and has a pretty good success rate due to a large readership.

Thanks. That's a good idea. It's worth a shot, anyway. :)

Victor/Victoria is a remake of the 1933 German musical comedy, Viktor und Viktoria. I saw it several years ago and liked it more than the remake.


In Maria Gripe's Shadow books (Skuggserien, not sure if they were ever translated into English, though I know they're available in Spanish) set in the early 20th century, the crossdressing girl makes both a boy and his sister fall in love with her, and the boy is horribly tormented by being in love with another boy. When the truth is discovered, he feels betrayed and distances himself from the girl in question, since he values honesty very highly. Meanwhile, the sister is completely unphased - she saw the whole thing as a game and doesn't much care that nothing can come of it now.

...And then it turns out that the crossdresser is actually their half-sister, so I guess it's all for the best. :-)

I didn't have a problem with Victor/Victoria - apart from the fact that I found King absolutely repulsive and didn't want him dating Victoria, ever. When someone so vehemently insists that the object of his attraction is a woman, I find the immediate post-reveal "Yay! Let's date!" a bit more believable than, say, Twelfth Night. (Though I love Twelfth Night.)

The Casanova miniseries was a bit like V/V: Giacomo fancies Bellino and refuses to accept the idea that s/he's really a man. He's devastated when he comes to believe that's the truth, and his sometimes girlfriend calls him on it: "Do you love him?" "Yes." "Then love him. Coward." So when he finally accepts his attraction, it's more on a dare than anything else - and so he's relieved to find out he was right all along.

Do you recall the Star Trek: TNG episode The Host? Crusher is having a relationship with a Trill, continues the relationship when the Trill symbiote is hosted temporarily by Riker but ends it when the symbiote's new host turns out to be female. It's the opposite isn't it? Crusher fell in love with a man who turned out not to be so rigidly genderfied at all.

Growing up, all those stories: Syliva Scarlett, As You Like It, Viktor und Viktoria and its remakes First A Girl and Victor/Victoria - for me they were all secret messages within ordinary heterosexual romances. So I loved them because they hinted the possibility of another ending. I would like to think that there's more to them than simply the comforting security of the restoration of order.

When I was a kid (which is a long time ago!) I read a medieval adventure called, I think, "Three Hearts and Three Lions" where a young woman disguises herself as a boy to avoid sexual harassment, and joins Richard the Lionheart's army. Of course, her stratagem proves problematic, but Richard is a good sport about it.

In the movie "Different for Girls," Rupert Graves' character realizes he was always sort of attracted to his friend Karl (played by Steven Mackintosh), who has transitioned and becomes his girlfriend Kim.

Plays written before female actors were allowed are a special case--in a sense, the whole hoo-haw is used not just for ambiguous sexual thrills but so that fewer spectators would sit in the alehouse afterwards saying, "Sure, that was a pretty dress, but you could see from a mile away that that was a boy."

When I was a kid (which is a long time ago!) I read a medieval adventure called, I think, "Three Hearts and Three Lions" where a young woman disguises herself as a boy to avoid sexual harassment, and joins Richard the Lionheart's army. Of course, her stratagem proves problematic, but Richard is a good sport about it.

I remember that book!

(From metafandom, btw)

I'm pretty sure that's Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman! Good book. :-)

Yes! That's it! I suspected that Three Hearts and Three Lions wasn't quite right.

Have you seen the tv series Young Americans? It features a couple (see icon ;) ) who go through the whole girl-masquerading-as-boy thing. I'll explain it bellow, but it'll be SPOILER -isch ;)

Jake (Jaqueline) starts new at a all-boys boarding school and quickly attracts the interest of the Deans son, Hamilton. Jake is interested back and acts on it, only to have Hamilton react quite badly. It goes on like that for a while, buildin tension, until Hamilton finally is prompted (by a girl who Jake-as-a-boy sort of dated, eh long story!) to admitt to himself that he's got a crush on Jake and confronts Jake about it in the bathroom ("we're gay!"), only to find out that ta-da, Jake is a girl! To which he doesn't emediately react with relief but rather anger and surprise. They do end up together, but Jake also tells Hamilton "Hey, you know, you totally dig boys. That's why you like me."

Of course, I tend to read Jake as a trans-boy, but I don't think that is the point of the show. For being a show sponsored by Coca Cola, this storyline is quite queer. And lovely. I adore Jake and Hamilton and their whole story, and I've always enjoyed that throughout the show, Hamilton is a bit conflicted about Jake being both his best guy friend and his girlfriend.

Was that even coherent? heh. I tried!