Mpreg and Transmisogyny


For International Women’s Day in the past, I’ve looked at topics like “what makes a woman” and other such topics.

This year, I wanted to return to a topic I’ve written about before: mpreg and transphobia. Specifically, though, I wanted to look at how transmisogyny plays out in our mpreg stories.

What Is Transmisogyny?

Transmisogyny is the intersection between transphobia and misogyny. Transphobia is a hatred or fear of transgender individuals. Misogyny is the hatred of women.

Transmisogyny specifically explains why trans women experience worse outcomes—including more violence, more hatred, and more discrimination—than trans men.

While trans men are affected by transphobia, they are not victimized in the same ways trans women are. They are often more able to “pass.” People may find trans men more “acceptable” than trans women.

The reasoning on this is quite simple. Our society favors men. It is therefore acceptable to want to be a man. As much as transphobes will argue trans men are sick, their stances may vary somewhat. Transphobes often believe trans men aren’t truly trans.

A woman sits in profile to the camera, with her head resting on her knees and her arms around herself, on a beach with water in the background near sunset.
Just so, so awful. (Pixabay / Pexels.com)

Again, the idea is that it sucks to be a woman. Thus it’s understandable that trans men would want to escape their supposed femininity. Underlying this, however, is the idea that trans men are, perhaps, merely confused. Transphobic ideologies postulate that trans men would remain women, if only society didn’t treat women so poorly. It’s not that these people are truly trans, in this view. It’s that they want to be men to escape the discrimination women experience.

The Issue of Accounting for Trans Women

Trans women are far more difficult to explain. In fact, they kind of explode than line of thinking. If it sucks so much to be a woman, why would anyone want to be one? Especially someone with supposed “male privilege”?

Trans women are thus cast in a deviant role. They are not merely confused like trans men. In this view, there is no bringing trans women back into the fold. Thus, this ideology says we must harshly punish trans women.

This is perfectly in line with misogynistic attitudes. Women, the thinking goes, are awful.

How Is Transmisogyny Different from Regular Misogyny?

Transmisogyny affects women more generally by policing the borders of who is and isn’t a woman.

Trans women are, of course, disproportionately affected. Trans men, as noted, often escape the dual swords of transphobia combined with misogyny, although transmisogyny also harms trans men.

For trans women, however, the situation is more dangerous. Trans women are portrayed as sick perverts who deserve to be punished for their “deviant” ways. It is impossible for the transphobe to understand why a “man” would “want” to be “a woman.” (Trans women are women, but this position is unfathomable to the transphobe.)

This means trans women are uniquely marginalized and outcast. This, in turn, makes them extremely vulnerable to everything from housing discrimination to workplace harassment and abuse, to violence in almost every space.

The Female Experience

Misogynistic arguments justify this behavior. Sexual violence, for example, is often portrayed as an inevitable part of the female experience. Trans women who speak out against violence are told they should simply accept this as a natural part of the “role” they have “chosen” to play. After all, they “wanted” to be women, so they should “suffer” as women do.

In short, the intersection of transphobia with misogyny allows for an acceleration of discrimination and violence against trans women. Transphobic members of society feel entitled to heap additional violence on trans women to “show” them what they have “chosen.” In reality, this is punishing trans women for “choosing” to abandon their perceived male privilege. Thus, trans women are harmed both as trans people and as women.

Transmisogyny also harms cis women, of course. If someone thinks a cis woman is too manly or not feminine enough, punishment is in order. We can see this happening in the world of amateur sports right now. Some people are accusing female athletes of being trans, leading to invasions of privacy and more. These female athletes are treated like trans women—and punished accordingly.

Transmisogyny in Mpreg

Now you’re thinking, “What does any of this have to do with mpreg?”

I’ve written before that, despite how it might appear on the surface, mpreg is actually quite transphobic.

Why? It routinely fails to explore the existence of trans women. Mpreg tends to rock right up to the line, then back away from even the merest hint that any of our supposedly cisgender, supposedly male protagonists might actually be trans women.

Cloud Strife, the protagonist of the video game Final Fantasy VII: Remake, stands in a basement while dressed as a woman with a blonde wig with two braids and a fancy purple gown with long sleeves and a bodice with corsetry.
Kinda like how FFVII can put Cloud in drag and then just ignore any further discussion of that ever.

Part of this is genre convention. It’s mpreg. As soon as we mention women, we’ve actually sort of wrapped ourselves back around to “regular old” preg.

Yet the genre’s refusal to acknowledge that, perhaps, some of these “male omegas” or “dudes who can get knocked up” might not actually be dudes is rooted in transmisogyny.

We can see this in how mpreg has taken more steps to include nonbinary, trans masc, and other genderqueer identities in recent years. Yet trans women remain absent.

“No Pink Please!”

This smacks of misogyny—the kind of attitude that we often see when readers of m/m romance reject trans men as leads in stories. The general attitude is that if it’s m/m, there should be “no pink” or “only swords.”

Misogyny runs deep in m/m romance, particularly those stories that are written by and largely consumed by cisgender women. Given that, it’s not terribly surprising to find that mpreg often exhibits the same attitudes toward women and femininity.

Omegaverse mpreg might have some of the best examples of this phenomenon. So many “male omegas” rail against what we might consider traditional femininity. Very often, omegas who comply with it are painted as being dim or bitter.

In short, omegaverse—and mpreg and m/m romance—double down on the idea that “femininity is bad.”

This attitude is sometimes seen in m/m romance more generally. Gay characters may try to reassert their masculinity or rail against anything that might be “camp,” for fear of being “girly.” I say omegaverse is the clearest example, because writers often cast the “male” omega into very traditional roles, in order to shed light on how poorly we treat femininity in society.

Yet, in doing so, writers often end up creating characters who rail against anything feminine. It’s shades of the “I’m not like other girls” refrain that was so popular in early 2000s YA.

Disparaging the Feminine

What this amounts to is messaging that masculinity is good and femininity is bad—which is something we hear a lot. The idea that femininity is lesser or degrading is a prime driver behind transmisogyny in particular. While misogyny degrades women generally, transmisogyny singles out and victimizes trans women because they complexify narratives about masculinity always being desirable and femininity always being lesser or bad.

The result? Trans women remain on the outside, both in society and in a genre like mpreg.
Mpreg is, in and of itself, transgressive and willing to break down barriers, yet the inclusion of trans women remains a sticking point. As noted, the genre almost demands transmisogyny. We’re allowed to give cisgender “male” bodies functional female parts—something some trans women would dearly love to have—but we are always cautioned about crossing the line.

Mpreg Likes Femme Men, But They’re Still Men

That is, a character who is “cisgender” can’t move away from that identity. In mpreg, the man who gets pregnant must remain a man even if it would only be natural for him to question his identity.

In a prominent pop culture example of mpreg, Cosmo, of the Fairly Odd Parents, undergoes childbirth in a hospital room with pink hospital blankets, while Timmy Turner looks on, seemingly terrified and bewildered.
I mean, Cosmo’s still very much “a dude”!

I mean, if you woke up one day and someone said hey, by the way, you can do this thing only people of “the opposite sex” can do, wouldn’t you feel a bit off-kilter? Wouldn’t it throw your perception of yourself into question?

I’m not saying our men characters wouldn’t necessarily come back to a position where they identify as men, but it’s equally likely that they’d decide they are, in fact, women. What’s most likely of all, though, is that they would question their gender identity, their reality, and even explore other stops on the gender spectrum.

Yet we so rarely see mpreg titles touch on this reality. Mpreg, in its most classical form, only works if you buy into the idea there are only two sexes, everything else in between be damned.

Mpreg Is a Contradictory Genre

At the same time, mpreg opens up spaces to consider genderqueerness more fully. Simply by positing the idea “what if a man could get pregnant?”, it asks us to grapple with the idea that gender must be tied to sex.

When we drag in omegaverse and other tropes, we’re asking: what happens when there’s more than two sexes? More than two genders?

That is pretty damn queer. So as much as mpreg leaves trans women out in the cold, it is still challenging us to think beyond binaries.

What Can We Do to Change Mpreg’s Issue with Trans Women?

It’s easy to point out the problem. Much more difficult is to suggestion a solution. After all, how do we reconcile the need to include trans women in our stories with readers’ expectations that those same stories are going to be about men who can get pregnant, not women?

One option, of course, is to simply include side characters or background characters who do identify as trans women. They may not ever take center stage in mpreg books, but giving them more visibility and treating them well in our fiction is a step in the right direction. It certainly helps make our worlds richer and more vibrant.

The other thing to realize, perhaps, is that maybe mpreg isn’t the genre that is going to lead the way on dismantling transmisogyny. Maybe another genre can better serve those stories.

That said, I do think we can ask for more of our mpreg worlds. If we’re writing and reading worlds where trans people—and trans women in particular—simply don’t exist, then I think we’re doing a disservice to the queer roots of mpreg as a genre.

Mpreg wants us to challenge notions of cishetnormativity in so many ways that it feels wrong to ignore trans women. Simply asking for more visibility in our stories will go a long way in improving the inclusiveness of a genre known for pushing the envelope.

About the author

By Cherry

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