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Okay... Okay... Real-talk, y'all: ...what if Stannis Baratheon or Robert Baratheon or Daenerys Targaryen or Arya Stark (or whatever fan-favorite character) turned out be trans?


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I would make three very important points and then I'm out.

First, Westeros isn't the past. It's a made-up world where ahistorical terms and concepts are liberally applied whenever the writer decides he likes it that way. (For the avoidance of doubt, GRRM does this both consciously and unconsciously.)

Second, while it is indeed important to understand the past in the context and understanding of the terms that they themselves applied, it is also important, legitimate and necessary to apply modern terms and a modern lens that we understand. Apart from anything else, we are modern people! We'd only be kidding ourselves if we believe that we can look at the past without applying a modern lens. Not a controversial or non-mainstream position among historians, by the way.

Thirdly, a statement such as 'transgender people did not exist in the past' can't be anything other than a controversial political statement whether you intend it to be or not. Particularly if it is based on the (erroneous) idea that to be transgender necessarily involves gender reassignment surgery, which is also a controversial political statement, again whether you realise that or not.

The combination of these three things means that any discussion of potentially trans characters in ASOIAF that proceeds from the basis that they can't have, because historically there weren't any transgender people, is - whether you like it or not - making a highly controversial political statement that many users will rightly object to and call out.

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32 minutes ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

 

This may be my only chance to recommend Contrapoints on this forum, so I'm going for it. Her video essays are excellent, and a lot of them touch on issues of identity and gender in both fun and serious ways. 

I don't think this general topic of transgenderism is relevant for the ASOIAF series, though, beyond fan fiction.

I shall give Contrapoints a listen, since you recommend it.

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40 minutes ago, mormont said:

Particularly if it is based on the (erroneous) idea that to be transgender necessarily involves gender reassignment surgery, which is also a controversial political statement, again whether you realise that or not.

As stated many times before, there are people back then who may have been transgender by todays standards. We cannot say for sure how they would identify though as you are retroactively speaking about dead people who aren't here to identify for them selves on a subject not so clearly defined back then. There were certainly people who identified as the opposite sex to some degree, but to what exact degree we can not say. No, not all transgender people want to be reassigned as its a broad term that also encompasses nonbinary people. Though, the ones that typically fully identify with the opposite sex, generally seek to follow through with the change. Or else its like being trapped in a prison. There were gay people back then, and cross dressers, along with hermaphrodites. So by today's standards, there likely would be some one back then who by today standards would identify as Transgender. We cannot say for sure though as no one ever did, and there is no text stating as much. So anything else is just assumption. Further, to point out again. The point of self identity is just that, self identity. Not something others can dictate. So by virtue of that fact, and the lack of the term in historical context. Its fair to say that no, transgender people did not in fact exist as we understand it. 

There is nothing political about that and i even quoted the wiki article basically stating the same thing. HIstorians don't work off assumption, or at least good ones don't. They work off of facts of the times they are studying. In the past, marrying and sleeping with a 13 year old girl by a 30 year old is normal. If you tried to view that through today's lenses, you would think everyone back then was a pedophile in the same context as we understand pedophiles. They didn't have the rules, laws, or mental context of the issues back then that we do today. Im merely trying to be an authentic witness to history, not appending my modern political biases into the past with terminologies that didn't even exist back then to contextualize something they may have seen as different than we do.

 

It is a paradox though (and ironic) to identify some one in the past as transgender when they are not here to identify themselves. Im not ignorant enough to label people past or present on such things. Its a matter of respecting self identity by not assuming people of the past's identity. I swear im not trying to be controversial, political, or anything negative and I apologize to over simplify a very complex subject in some of my broad strokes of explaining the complexities of using that modern term on ancient people.

 

Edited by AlaskanSandman
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35 minutes ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

 

This may be my only chance to recommend Contrapoints on this forum, so I'm going for it. Her video essays are excellent, and a lot of them touch on issues of identity and gender in both fun and serious ways. 

I don't think this general topic of transgenderism is relevant for the ASOIAF series, though, beyond fan fiction.

Thats where something as complex as that should be handled less on the nose. Arya would be a good character to drops hints of it into, and let the individual readers apply what they will like people with song lyrics. I dont think Asoiaf isn't the place for those subjects as a whole, just not contextualized in the same light as we would want to view them. This also has the virtue of challenging the reader from their perspective. 

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9 minutes ago, AlaskanSandman said:

Thats where something as complex as that should be handled less on the nose. Arya would be a good character to drops hints of it into, and let the individual readers apply what they will like people with song lyrics. I dont think Asoiaf isn't the place for those subjects as a whole, just not contextualized in the same light as we would want to view them. This also has the virtue of challenging the reader from their perspective. 

Certainly the issues of gender role rigidity and gender nonconformity are pretty explicitly tackled, and so wondering about transgender issues isn't out of the question. I just personally think that it's hard to get any more specific beyond those broader issues of gender conformism and cultural rigidity from the story as it exists so far, so speculation beyond that is likely going to veer into fan fiction. But plenty of fans love fan fiction and they're welcome to speculate as they please. It's just not something I'm personally interested in.

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15 minutes ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

Certainly the issues of gender role rigidity and gender nonconformity are pretty explicitly tackled, and so wondering about transgender issues isn't out of the question. I just personally think that it's hard to get any more specific beyond those broader issues of gender conformism and cultural rigidity from the story as it exists so far, so speculation beyond that is likely going to veer into fan fiction. But plenty of fans love fan fiction and they're welcome to speculate as they please. It's just not something I'm personally interested in.

Oh I would agree with you there. And as no character would thus be able to openly state "im transgender", its all speculative and "fan fiction" in a sense to go to far down that road. Im not overtly interested in reading a knights and armor tale that openly uses "transgender" in the text, but I am open to a human tale of some one like Arya or Jon Connington struggling with their self identity on some level of wishing they had been born of the opposite sex, like Brienne. While being given a tale of their human struggles and why these type of feelings may arise in people of all sorts. Reading a propaganda piece on modern politics doesn't interest me though. I think Martin has tried as much as he can to include an array of human dynamics where he can and is actually one of his strongest traits as a writer, employed cleverly at times through his pov storytelling method. Something that adds another human level to the story not always seen in other novels

Edited by AlaskanSandman
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For POVs I would be surprised.  I have seen no indication in anyone's thoughts of identity issues along those lines.

Arya - Arya is what we would call a tomboy.  She likes boys' activities.  Fairly common in a girl her age and not any kind of indication of being Trans or queer.  While she wears boyish clothes and even disguised herself as one, that seems more tactical and pragmatic than identity oriented.  Also, she fondly remembers Lady Smallwood calling her pretty, and repeatedly insists "I'm a girl!".  I'm going to say Arya is not trans. 

Brienne  - Brienne is a bit tricky.  She is adult and wears men's clothes.  Like Arya, I see this as more practical than identity based.  She knows women's clothes look bad on her due to her physique.  While Martin could make her trans or queer, I don't see any indication of it in the text.

Sam - Sam is probably the most non-conforming male as a POV.  Even so, he doesn't appear to have any real identity issues.  Some hangup, maybe, but being queer isn't one of them.  By the way, if he hadn't felt inhibited by his vows, I suspect he would have bedded Gilly long before he did.  I'm pretty sure he's straight. 

All I have time for now.  I see these as the most likely candidates, though others may differ.  My knowledge on the subject is also not extensive. 

As for non POVs it would be hard to say.  I would say that making Robert or Stannis trans would be laughable As far as generally queer, the most likely suspects not already out are Brynden Tully the Blackfish and Meera.  Blackfish, may well be gay.  Meera is probably just an overgrown tomboy. 

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6 hours ago, AlaskanSandman said:

No offense, but this is ridiculous. There weren't transgender people back then as they didn't have the surgeries needed to convert. So aside from simply feeling like a woman inside, Robert wouldn't be able to do much about it. If he made moves at men, he likely would've just been thought of as gay. If he dressed like a woman, he would be a cross dresser (Which Martin has included in the story, a long with gay people).

  Robert, Stannis, or who ever would have to make some actions in the book to give this idea even, such as Jon Connington. Robert is clearly a man whore, so i seriously doubt he's gay, a crossdresser, or feels like a woman trapped in a mans body. 

Would fans be upset if Robert, who is already dead and father tons of kids turned out to be trans. Yea. That would be poor writing. If Jon Connington turned out to be transgender at heart, i really dont think fans would care or be shocked. Considering his passive nature, i would guess that he would be the one to follow if Rhaegar and him danced. 

 

Now, if you wanna hand Jon Con over to Qyburn and let him experiment, you might get a more modern equivalent to your question. Which is a subject and area I dont think GRRM would want to tread down for a whole list of reasons that could backfire on him.

I mean, does it matter either way? This is fantasy. If they are transgender, the author would probably let us know. Besides, just because you don't go through the process doesn't mean you're not trans.

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8 minutes ago, Nevets said:

For POVs I would be surprised.  I have seen no indication in anyone's thoughts of identity issues along those lines.

Arya - Arya is what we would call a tomboy.  She likes boys' activities.  Fairly common in a girl her age and not any kind of indication of being Trans or queer.  While she wears boyish clothes and even disguised herself as one, that seems more tactical and pragmatic than identity oriented.  Also, she fondly remembers Lady Smallwood calling her pretty, and repeatedly insists "I'm a girl!".  I'm going to say Arya is not trans. 

Brienne  - Brienne is a bit tricky.  She is adult and wears men's clothes.  Like Arya, I see this as more practical than identity based.  She knows women's clothes look bad on her due to her physique.  While Martin could make her trans or queer, I don't see any indication of it in the text.

Sam - Sam is probably the most non-conforming male as a POV.  Even so, he doesn't appear to have any real identity issues.  Some hangup, maybe, but being queer isn't one of them.  By the way, if he hadn't felt inhibited by his vows, I suspect he would have bedded Gilly long before he did.  I'm pretty sure he's straight. 

All I have time for now.  I see these as the most likely candidates, though others may differ.  My knowledge on the subject is also not extensive. 

As for non POVs it would be hard to say.  I would say that making Robert or Stannis trans would be laughable As far as generally queer, the most likely suspects not already out are Brynden Tully the Blackfish and Meera.  Blackfish, may well be gay.  Meera is probably just an overgrown tomboy. 

Not to sound like a fanboy, but Stannis has never really been all that centered on *ahem* "traditional values" (his lack of religiosity and the fact that he doesn't seem to give much of a shit about his own marriage). I... could kinda see it.

Of course, the problem with StanStans like myself is that we lean too much toward:

"WOW! Stannis is a fookin' badass!"

Which usually connotates to him being manly in some way.

...No. Seriously. Think about it. Can you ever imagine Stannis Baratheon without that signature deep and gnarly voice of his in the books, the way he carries himself, and his badass one-liners?

I would say: no.

(Err, not saying that Stannis Baratheon's snarky one-liners are inherently "masculine" but people have an image in their heads about how he delivers them and what they signify.)

Daenerys Targaryen is an interesting one... I could easily see people flipping their shit over her being revealed to be transgender (because, again, we usually think of Daenerys being kinda "feminine" in appearance and manner, correct me if I'm wrong).

I mean, I would hope that nobody goes full "J.K. Rowling" over a character like Daenerys being trans or genderqueer, but what I'm saying is that it goes against the fandom's "image" in their heads about the character.

I hope I'm explaining myself right. :mellow:

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20 minutes ago, Crazy Old Guy said:

I mean, does it matter either way? This is fantasy. If they are transgender, the author would probably let us know. Besides, just because you don't go through the process doesn't mean you're not trans.

Already touched on all of this. For suspension of disbelief, it would be out of place to have it in the novel as you are stating it. And as far as Opt, no you don't have to have an operation to be trans by all definitions as some are non binary. Neither identifying to male or female. Which speaks to my point about it being too broad a term and too modern to be applied in the context of a historical fantasy. 

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1 hour ago, AlaskanSandman said:

Already touched on all of this. For suspension of disbelief, it would be out of place to have it in the novel as you are stating it. And as far as Opt, no you don't have to have an operation to be trans by all definitions as some are non binary. Neither identifying to male or female. Which speaks to my point about it being too broad a term and too modern to be applied in the context of a historical fantasy. 

Seems neither here nor there.

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How are we supposed to find out?  I'm other words, given the setting and the POV structure, how would the fact that someone is trans be expressed or communicated to the readers.  And if it can't be, does it matter?  

For a character like Brienne, there is enough evidence that if you want to see her as trans you probably can.  If not, there is evidence for that too.  I could see her as a wanna be male knight errant.  I can also see her as mistress of a castle, with a husband and kids and being quite happy.  You see what you want to see.

I see no such groundwork for Daenerys.  Readers would be mad because it would be bad writing.  Not sure how we would find out, though.   If you want to suggest she is, say, bisexual, be my guest.  I think it is experimental, but the possibility is there.

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The whole transgender thing woudlnt exist in a medieval setting. Those people we would consider trans are people that had some identity crisis. But these people wouldnt change their gender since the concept didn’t exist. They would be aware that they liked doing things of the opposite sex, but that dosent mean some male peasant would start calling herself a women. At the time their is no one to help with these issues. If you go to a priest he’ll call you sinful.

To summarise the self identity issue was their. But the whole premise of identifying as another gender wasnt a concept until modern times. Need to remember the Middle Ages were backwards in almost everything. These people were retarded and allot less educated than us (yes including nobility). To them the concept of changing your gender or identifying as another gender is almost alien. Its something theyve never heard of.

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28 minutes ago, The Young Maester said:

To summarise the self identity issue was their. But the whole premise of identifying as another gender wasnt a concept until modern times

That may be true for medieval Europe, but it's not true for all cultures, even ancient ones. Human societies have had various ways of conceptualizing gender. Several societies have a third gender, in between male and female. At least some Native American tribes conceived of four gender categories: masculine men, feminine men, masculine women, feminine women. And while ASOIAF mostly borrows from medieval Europe, GRRM borrows willy nilly from various times and sourced as he sees fit, including some clear modern parallels (the systematic torture and murder of Harrenhall being closer to Nazi Germany than any medieval pogrom; dragonfire and wildfire being closer to nuclear war than any earlier weaponry).

None of this is to say that these facts about gender are relevant or present in ASOIAF (I don't think they really are), but their absence in the history of medieval Europe is not sufficient to dismiss them. Even modern ideas are relevant to consider, as GRRM is writing in a modern time for a modern audience.

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This is -- and would be -- nothing but a headache-inducing mess.

How would we even know that they would be trans? If anything, it'd be an existential identity crisis (not unlike the three Stark kids) that would ultimately be resolved in a secondary fashion. And by secondary, I mean secondary to the plot.

 

It can be done though. Given that the series incorporates the use of magic (not just any kind of magic, blood magic and human sacrifice) and shape-shifting, you could truly have a true trans character. Except it would be none of the characters that the OP mentioned. It'd have to be a brand new character (from Essos) and it's a bit late for all of that.

Edited by BlackLightning
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30 minutes ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

That may be true for medieval Europe, but it's not true for all cultures, even ancient ones. Human societies have had various ways of conceptualizing gender. Several societies have a third gender, in between male and female. At least some Native American tribes conceived of four gender categories: masculine men, feminine men, masculine women, feminine women. And while ASOIAF mostly borrows from medieval Europe, GRRM borrows willy nilly from various times and sourced as he sees fit, including some clear modern parallels (the systematic torture and murder of Harrenhall being closer to Nazi Germany than any medieval pogrom; dragonfire and wildfire being closer to nuclear war than any earlier weaponry).

None of this is to say that these facts about gender are relevant or present in ASOIAF (I don't think they really are), but their absence in the history of medieval Europe is not sufficient to dismiss them. Even modern ideas are relevant to consider, as GRRM is writing in a modern time for a modern audience.

Well George dosent copy things from other eras word for word.

The dragon and wildfire concept arent an exact replica of nuclear bombs. And dragons can be seen as more normal for a medieval setting since dragon sigils and stories did exist at the time. Wildfire is more connected to greek fire which was used for their warships in battle.

I do agree that George tends to grab things from other eras like glass gardens.

But bringing in transgender is something allot bigger. It is something more akin to society, not an object like wildfire. The society of Westeros is in general just medieval people with some weird advanced technology. But the whole trans thing would be integrated within the society which would make it less medieval.

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