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It occurred to me earlier that Disney themselves have kind of dealt with a transgender character in one of their movies. I’m talking about Mulan. Whilst it’s true that Mulan still identifies herself as a woman and the men identify themselves as men so it’s not 100% transgender ie man trapped in a woman’s body and or vice versa, they still have the majority of the movie with their main female character dressing and acting like a man. They also have some of their male characters disguising themselves as women in full make up and dress. So Disney have kind of explored the cross-dressing aspect of transgender albeit for a purpose (fooling the huns, Mulan taking her father’s place in the war) rather than the deeper issues of gender identity crisis (Mulan dressed like a man to take her father’s place in the war rather than dressing like a man because she felt like she was a man trapped in a woman’s body).
Mulan doesn’t conform to her society’s expectation of women of that time. In the song “honour to us all” it states the roles of men and women. For example:
“A girl can bring her family
great honor in one way
By striking a good match
And this could be the day
Men want girls with good taste
Who work fast-paced
With good breeding
And a tiny waist
You’ll bring honor to us all
We all must serve our Emperor
Who guards us from the Huns
A man by bearing arms
A girl by bearing sons”
Basically it says that men’s role is to fight for the country whilst a woman’s role is to get married, be everything her husband desires in a woman and have sons. When Mulan tries to be “the little woman” expected of her rather than who she truly is, it all goes terribly wrong, as seen in the matchmaker scene.
Mulan’s Reflection song could easily be sung by someone who feels like they are in the wrong body. The lyrics go:
“Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I’m not meant to play this part?
Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family’s heart
Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?
Somehow I cannot hide who I am, though I’ve tried
When will my reflection show who I am inside?”
Mulan on Once upon a Time identifies herself as a woman, but she still dresses in more masculine clothes rather than girly dresses, and that is presented as absolutely okay on the show. The show may not ever do a 100% transgender character, but they have introduced aspects of it.
I do wonder if maybe the Mulan/Aurora storyline being swept under the carpet a little bit was due to the actress availability issues (Both actresses had other shows) rather than a conscious attempt by the writers to sweep LGBT characters under the rug. After all, if the writers didn’t really want to introduce an LGBT character, why write Mulan as one? With Jamie Chung’s (Mulan) show being cancelled, and both Aurora/Philip and Robin Hood/merry men in Storybrooke, it’s entirely possible that Mulan is in Storybrooke too and that we just haven’t seen her yet. 3B was mostly focussed around the regulars and the characters they just so happened to interact with at a time so it’s entirely possible that Mulan has been around but off-screen. Season 4 could bring Mulan back and continue her storyline.
All magic comes with a price!Keeper of Felix