Ferris, the most popular catgirl
Well, to start off, none of this matters and it?s just a fun exercise. Think debating, but (hopefully) less dumb.
Super special sub-sub-title; although there are catpeople of all genders and expressions, I have but one gender, and it?s the girl gender.
Transgender people online have their own culture, community, and because it?s 2018; their own memes. The most recurring of these is cat-people, characters with feline aspects. Not anthropomorphic cats like you would find in furry spaces, just people with triangle ears on their heads, and maybe a tail (If you have trouble visualizing this, go watch literally any anime ever, you?ll find one).
So, what does the catgirl mean?
Let?s start with the most popular catgirl; a character from the anime Re:Zero named Ferris. Although Ferris? gender identity is debated by the show and cis fans alike, she has stated previously on the show that she sees herself as a girl, and she?s trans just like her stans. As well, she was abused as a child for her unusual cat traits. The parallels to real life trans women are pretty clear; a gender identity ignored by society and abuse for being outside the norm.
What make Ferris a role model and resonant figure is her confidence despite those antagonisms, and her cuteness, both of which are aspirations of most trans women. Feeling those emotions (even through empathy) is very attractive to trans women who have been missing out on the experience of being cute girls for a large portion of their lives. It?s a glass of water to a parched mouth.
We can also look at the house cat itself to see similar themes. They are very independent, ignoring any command they don?t like. But they also want attention, and importantly, get that attention. Again, confidence and cuteness. And as well, satiation of needs: it?s not just about acting cute or being cute, it?s being acknowledged as such by others.
Because, most trans women have a pretty sure internal sense of who they are, and how they want to act, but they aren?t confident that others would describe them in the same way. The cat and catgirl symbolize a trans woman that has been accepted by those around her, and knows that she has been accepted so.
To go on a slight detour, we can also explore the appeal of anime to better understand this idea. In my eye, anime is an exaggeration for the sake of emotion, like all the trashy genres we like to riff on such as reality TV, soap operas, and the WWE. It so heavily communicates an emotion that you can?t help feeling it. In the case of the catgirl that emotion is snuggly and warm. It essentially forces you to feel happy and safe, which is very nice for a group wracked with depression and negative self-image.
But it?s not enough for something to be fun for it to be empowering, and so we enter my conclusion;
Why it?s good for trans women to act like cats
Catgirl culture is an exaggeration. It?s over the top, silly, and people outside its realm will see it as goofy and dumb. But it?s also an encouragement, and a source of strength. We are most capable when we have a source of experience to draw upon, and catgirls can be that source. It?s the training wheels that taught you to pedal before you had to bike, it?s the lifejacket that let you kick the water before you had to swim.
In the case of catgirls, trans women can freely explore social facets of womanhood within the den of a supportive community, before they must venture into the cis wilderness and fight to be accepted.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk