It's been brought up before that making the assumptions that michaela was a cis male as michael or just refusing to confirm that she's a trans woman was disrespectful, but it's outright leading to misinformation.
I wanted to wait until we were less busy to try bringing this up, but this was quite alarming, and with price's translations coming out steadily now it seems like it'll be a while before we stop getting new information.
I think it's vital that we consider what exactly we're saying to our readers when leave this particular bit of information up to interpretation
i agree that this is very important!! i am not a trans woman myself but i have many trans women friends who would be horrified by things such as this. even after michaela's death as a human she still continued to identify as a woman, and to imply she only chose to be a woman because elluka forced her is incredibly hurtful and can have harmful effects on real trans women
Thank you for voicing your concerns. I am sorry if our handling of the page is alarming or feels like misinformation to you, but it's the best that we can do under the circumstances. We've already discussed how we will be handling Michaela's page in the heavenly novel thread, and no more information has been presented to change this.
First off: please keep in mind that this is a fantasy series which features confirmed instances of reincarnation and the manipulation of someone's soul which takes the form of data (and that these things, in particular, are applicable to Michaela's case) something that cannot and will never be able to be applied to real-life trans people.
Secondly: FNiCortez has misrepresented the information that is currently on Michaela's page.
The order of events as presented currently in the novels is that Michaela was originally Michael, a male, and then became a forest spirit, something which is confirmed to be genderless and sexless. Michaela, at the beginning of Wiegenlied before reincarnation, was not a male and the wiki does not treat Michaela as a male during that period, as is reflected in the use of they/them pronouns.
In Wiegenlied, at the time that the reincarnation ritual was discussed, Michaela asks Elluka why she decided on women, since it wouldn't make a difference whether they incarnate as a man or a woman because spirits are genderless; presumably this means they'd be able to adapt to either body without complications. The actual passage is thus:
"...By the by, why a beautiful woman? We don't have a gender in the first place, so wouldn’t a man work just as well...?" I asked.
This passage does not serve to comment on Michaela's preference. We do not know if Michaela would have picked either a man or woman if the decision was up to her, and we never said as much on the wiki.
After Michaela incarnates as a woman, she remains one for the rest of the series, and is referred to as one on the wiki pretty much everywhere. It's possible that this means that Michael was a trans woman. But it's also possible that Michaela could not be a male again because being reincarnated as a cis woman changed that part of her spirit data. We don't know if that part of her identity was outright removed when she became a spirit in the first place.
The fact that she says spirits can incarnate as male or female is the sticking point. If we had a case where a forest spirit did the same as Michaela, i.e. incarnating into a gender different from what they had in the Second Period, and then changed back to their previous gender when they gained their memories of the Second Period again, then even that would be enough. But we only have Michaela. This is why we have chosen for the most part not to comment on it at all.
If you feel that's harmful or disrespectful still, I'm sorry. But again, these circumstances are not ones that will ever be applicable to real-life trans individuals.
tdlr; we're only referring to Michaela's gender and gender identities the way that the narrative itself has referred to it.
If we got a confirmation that Michael used female pronouns or some other indication that Michael personally identified as female, or another forest spirit example such as I said above, we'd gladly put on the page that Michael is a trans woman. It might even be possible to ask mothy his intention. Until then, the page will refer to Michael as the narrative has referred to Michael.
I'm going to be honest, Octo. It feels like you're playing it safe because you might ruffle feathers in this case. As it is, Michaela is the only one who has chosen, and continues to choose to, identify differently from their previous incarnation--and given everyone else shapeshifting willy nilly in Heavenly, I doubt it's a case of "oh, well, she just CAN'T be Michael again." She's the form she's most comfortable as in Heavenly--like how Venomania retains his brother's face despite it not being actually his. (And in fact, the text seems to display Lich's continued referral to Michaela as his brother and not his sister as an extremely negative thing.)
Also, I'm calling bull on "but this is a fantasy, it's not applicable to real people." The same stuff is used to defend continued lack of diversity in a lot of fantasy, up to and including whitewashing of characters in adaptations (see: the ATLA movie--casting decisions were defended with "BUT IT'S FANTASY THEY AREN'T ACTUALLY THOSE RACES THIS DOESN'T APPLY"). So needless to say, as an LGBT individual, that is a very uncomfortable line of reasoning when it's been repeatedly used to bludgeon minorities. (Not an accusation, just more of a, "Okay, bit of a heads up that this is headed into very uncomfortable territory from a minority perspective and you might not be aware of it.")
Octo is not saying "this is fantasy so trans people don't have to exist", Octo is saying "this is a situation that is never going to apply to a real life scenario of someone being trans, so we can't apply real life trans experience to it in order to label the character as trans".
The wiki's policy has been not to assume information that isn't said. That's supposed to be applied to everything. You could make the argument that Michael becoming Michaela is a trans analogue, and perhaps that could go in trivia, but you can't say that Michael, Michaela's previous identity, is a trans woman because nothing has said it and as Octo has said Michaela is the only example we have of this. Held was a man, Lich was a man, Gumillia was a woman, etc.
I think it's fine to play it safe and just assume each character is as is stated to be rather than making assumptions (also, for the record, Lich referring to Michaela as a male is treated more in the narrative as stupid stubbornness than an extremely negative behavior).
Yeah. That's why we can't definitely state it. And I didn't mean that Michaela "can't" become Michael, just that she wouldn't be comfortable doing so at that point.
Re:the trivia point; I would not be averse to putting in a trivia point that brings up the possibility that Michael was a trans woman, or suggests that Michaela's situation may be a trans analogue (admittedly more the former than the latter because the latter assumes mothy's intentions.) While that isn't the norm for our trivia anymore, it should help with Youtube yahoos spouting off misleading misinformation just because we're not taking an official stance outside of narrative treatment.
Asking mothy about what his intention was would also help make this situation clearer, if anyone is willing to find a way to do that.
First of all, my original point was misinterpreted.
I did not present the comment in question as being representative of the wikia's view, I presented it in the context that not backing up michaela's gender identity is giving hateful people room to misinterpret her character and interactions that have happened with her character.
I also did not call the treatment of the wikia's handling alarming, I called the comment alarming. or rather, the realisation that bigots were already using the wikia as an excuse to uphold their views
but point blank michaela is the only character that's getting this treatment.
lich's article refers to him with male pronouns during the portion where he is a forest spirit. gumillia's article refers to her with female pronouns during the portion where she is a forest spirit.
the characters that have a consistent gender identity between the second and third periods are allowed to keep said gender identity as spirits as far as our articles are concerned. add to it the fact that michaela's article explicitely says that elluka told her to imagine a woman when she chose a body to reincarnate into and you have plenty of evidence that she doesn't "really" identify as a woman based on our articles.
that's what makes the handling of it an issue. because if say, you don't like that there's canon lesbian representation you could just argue that michaela is really a man, which makes her relationship with clarith heterosexual
but moreover, michaela continues to identify as a woman after she gets all of her memories as michael, which happened after her death. lich even says as much in the heavenly novel
it's stated outright the nemesis, upon regaining her memories, is a mixture of her previous identities, because they are at odds with each other. she can't be nemesis, elluka, or levia separately anymore, because they're parts of her.
but michaela is still michaela. michaela has had centuries to decide whether she still identifies as michael, and she does not. her ideal form is michaela.
- lich being given male pronouns in that king was born from mud both by mothy and in the wikia despite still actively being a forest spirit
- lich and eater are still forest spirits in their mud bodies, their souls have just been transported to a new body of lich's design. you can say that there's evidence that at least lich has memories from his previous life, which there is, but in that case michaela recovering her memories as michael should have an effect on her gender identity if simply not remembering was enough to skew it before, but it didn't.
- irina's magic could not work when she actively chose to use a male host, and levia subconsiously rejected a male host while she was in ma. but michaela's magic worked just fine in a lady's body.
magic reincarnation or not, that should not be possible if michaela's soul was unaltered. and her memories wouldn't play a role in this, it's a fundamental law of the world.
literally, the only thing mothy did not do is outright say the words "michaela is trans."
which, there's nothing to say that the characters would even know what that word is? lich is talking to allen, a kid who was alive in what is essentially revolutionary france, why would he use such a modern term when confirming michaela's gender identity in the first place?
would lich, as a being from a simulation, even necessarily know what that word is?
and that's just it, there is no shortage of in universe material that tells us michaela's situation isn't normal. whether or not it's possible in the real world doesn't matter, it's not possible for someone to get hereditary evil raiser syndrom either but we still acknowledge that some characters experience DID as a symptom of it despite that specific term not being used in the source material. but when michaela's gender identity changes we do everything we can to get out of acknowledging that she's trans?
we don't have to assume that michael actively identified as a trans woman to know that michaela is one
as an adition, besides the fact that we don't treat other forest spirits as being genderless in our articles (and neither does mothy if lich and eater have anything to say about it), it was brought up in the first discussion page for the heavenly novel that we don't actually know if mothy is reffering to both sex and gender when he says that they're sexless.
because lets think about this for a second. if you had all of your memories erased and then woke up in an animal's body in the woods completely outside of human society you likely wouldn't identify as a specific gender because you haven't been confronted with the idea that you have to. it's a difference in social conventions.
elluka is not all knowing, levia isn't even all knowing. if she only knows that a bunch of talking animals in the woods don't have a strong opinion on gender then she assumes that they are genderless. there are frankly a lot of details about how the world works and the history of the creation of the earth in particular that levia has gotten wrong. and elluka specifically was raised in a country that peddeled propaganda specifically about the gods
there is no conclusive evidence that tells us that elluka's word on this is valid or that she even meant it in the way that it's being interpreted here in the first place
whether or not behemo's story is actually true, I think it's safe to say that it's the one that he told to levia, the Super Genius That Specialized In Psychology
and in that story behemo relayed a world that wasn't exactly kind to boys that broke gender conventions. such as putting on women's clothing, wearing makeup, or acting "feminine."
if you interpret this as being based in truth about real behemo's backstory then that was the kind of society influences that were at play when the second period was programmed. and if you think that behemo made it up then behemo specifically would have designed the lie to be believable in levia's world.
either way we have to acknowledge that there was not an insigificant amount of prejudice involved with exploring your gender in the environment where "michael" grew up
combine that with michaela living as a woman for 500 years after being a human for one of them, specifically after she and the people around her cut ties with human civilization, and many of the social conventions that came along with them, and I think we have even more subtext in support of the trans michaela theory
but as a side note, if say, someone experiences some level of gender fluidity, either naturally or from some sort of event outside of their control (like say trauma), and this genuinely affects how they identify that person is absolutely free to identify as trans
there are people like that who exist, and there are people like that who have chosen to fully transition.
whether or not michaela's "spirit data was changed" she will have memories of identifying as a man at some point while still actively identifying as a woman in the present. that is still representative of the trans experience (or at least A trans experience)
Alright, I'm gonna try to address this one by one, sorry in advance if this becomes a wall of text or if I misinterpet anything you're saying here:
1. I am sorry for misunderstanding your point as well as your tone; I understand now where you are coming from on this. That's why I agreed that a trivia point could be added, so that people understand Michael could well be a trans woman except that nothing has outright confirmed it. If hateful people ignore that, that's not something the wiki can change. There's going to be bigots twisting things no matter what.
2. We do treat the other forest spirits as sexless and genderless. Or, we're supposed to anyway.
Lich is an exception officially and otherwise because Lich, unlike all the other forest spirits, unambigiously retains his Second Period identity. He, in fact, may not have even gone through the same process as the others to become a forest spirit, since he died way after the others did and way after anyone from the Second Period would have the time or means to change his spirit data. Similarly, we do not know how Lich became a death god and if that involved reincarnation or not.
Gumillia's page does not use female pronouns for the period where she is a forest spirit. if it does at some point, that's an error and not an official wiki stance on her treatment.
Phaser's section........ needs to be fixed, wow ewe
Eater's page also uses gender-neutral pronouns, or rather avoids using pronouns at all for that period. While in-story Eater uses ore as a pronoun (after hanging out with Lich, who is aware that in the Second Period he was male and is trying to make him remember it,) this does not exactly help the case because Michaela uses "boku" prior to transforming into a human woman. We also have Liliane Mouchet using ore as well so there's that.
tdlr; if at any point a forest spirit is regarded as having a gender, that is an error and not an official wiki stance and I encourage anyone to correct it.
3. Elluka did tell Michaela, specifically, to imagine a woman's body--not forcing Michaela and Gumillia, just making clear that that's what she wanted them to do. That's just a fact of the canon. It doesn't mean much; I mean, Michaela would have no way to know what to prefer. But it is what happened.
4. I addressed this point above. My point is that Michael and Michaela's genders may not necessarily be linked; even if she regains all of her memories and chooses to continue identifying as female, the fact that there is a midpoint where she (seemingly) had no gender at all and claimed to be able to incarnate as any sex means that it's not clear if this is for Michael's comfort or Michaela's; i.e. we don't know if becoming Michaela gave Michael their preferred body or if becoming Michaela changed her gender for good (and before anyone says, I know that sex =/= gender but I'm looking at it from the narrative's perspective). Similarly, Gumillia may identify as female now purely because she reincarnated as one in Wiegenlied, and not because she was a female in the Second Period.
5. I make no argument that Michaela isn't conclusively a female post-reincarnation, or that her situation isn't unusual. The fact that it's unique is what makes it hard to say either way.
6. While it is true that the spirits may not really be genderless, the fact is that the narrative has exclusively referred to them as such, so anything beyond that falls into speculation. Whether or not the term Michaela used was genderless or sexless, Elluka admits to herself that she only uses female pronouns for the spirits because she prefers to think of them as female.
"These girls just (well, spirits didn’t have gender so calling them that might not be appropriate, but I preferred to think of them as female so that's the way I worded it)"
While in real life you can't truly change your gender, it's true, the story presents a situation where a character goes from being referred to as genderless and identifying themselves as genderless to being referred to and identifying as female.
7. The DID thing is a good point, iirc it was put in for the sake of being brief but should be removed and replaced with terms actually used (having more than one personality?)
I don't think the wiki needs it said outright that Michael is trans, for the record. Anything like "Michael preferred to be thought of as a woman" or Michaela saying "This was my desired form from the start" or something like that would also be more than enough. So would, as I said, clarification on the actual nature of forest spirits' "genderlessness" and if it was just because they lost their memories or if something more was done to them or whatever mothy's intention was.
tdlr; I think it's very possible Michael was trans, but it turns into speculation when we go outside of what the narrative says. If we had Michaela's word on this or, again, clarification on the nature of forest spirits (the midpoint that makes this muddied,) that would override anything else, but we don't have those things to my knowledge. A lot of your points, as good as they may be, are explanations for why Michael being confirmed trans wouldn't be a retcon, not an argument for why Michael is definitively trans in and of itself. (If that makes sense)
In my mind, this is a similar argument to why we didn't merge Banica and Grave's pages until we were certain that Grave was just Banica in a new bodily vessel. It was blatantly obvious to a lot of people that they were the same person, but there were things unsaid that needed to be said first. The only things said, have been said by Levia and Lich, who while not the most reliable sources, are the only sources available. Michaela never clarifies the matter.
I remain hesitant as well because mothy is a Japanese author from a very conservative culture, especially when it comes to gender; while he may not share those conservative views, his views on gender may not necessarily be that of a Western audience. I don't want to credit him with something he may not have intended or considered, which is why asking him outright might be better for lack of clearer canon info.
Something else I considered; the fact that Gumillia continues to appear in her Third Period form even after it's confirmed to have rotted away at some point and she also regained all her memories supports the notion that she's far more attached to her Third Period persona than her Second Period one, which could conceivably be the case for Michaela as well (to relate to the point about Gumillia in part 4 of my post)
I really do appreciate you acknowledging my points and the apology, but there are still some points that I just can't see eye to eye with here
first and foremost, I'm not necessarily arguing that michael had to have been trans, who knows. thousands of years is a long time to be alive.
what I am arguing is that identifying as a different gender, hell even going from identifying as a genderless spirit to a binary person, is itself existing as a trans person
lets assume a point you brought up earlier, michael's spirit data being changed when he turned into michaela, is the absolute truth. depending on how you slice it that's either a man spiritually transitioning into a woman or a nonbinary person transitioning into a woman.
half of my point is that there is textual evidence that suggests that michael was already trans, or at the very least questioning. but the other half of my point is that michaela specifically counts as trans regardless
honestly, whether or not that makes it into her article I think it's important that it's acknowledged by the people writing her article (so us here). stripping away too much flavor text can lead to misinterpretation of a scene, but if the writer's voice pokes through and they don't have a firm, coherent, or accurate interpretation of their character it can also lead to misinterpretation. it's balancing act
but also, my point with michaela's article is how it's read by someone who doesn't know the full layout of the scene. yes elluka does suggest that they imagine a woman's body, but michaela questions her on it, elluka admits that it doesn't matter, and michaela decides to pick a woman's body anyways. given all of that infomation the audience can interpret it multiple ways.
but in her article it just says "Once they reached the location for the reincarnation ritual, the two spirits were instructed to imagine beautiful Elphe women who weren't already alive or shared the same appearance to become their new human bodies. Entering the ritual, Michaela pictured Eve Moonlit and reincarnated into her form."
my point here being, that the lack of context leaves the scene open to be misinterpreted, which when combined with noticing that other spirits have physical forms that match their previous lives as far as gender goes could give someone leeway to argue that her gender was forced on her by elluka, such as the commenter at the start of the thread
it's an issue with how the information is presented, not a falsification of information
and in that same vein, what is there that explicitely states that lich is an exception as far as his gender identity goes. what in the text tells us that eater only starts using male pronouns after he meets lich, assuming they didn't already know each other from the beginning.
we know, 4 forest spirits on a personal level. that isn't enough to establish a baseline to determine what is against the social or even biological norms for them at that time.
all in all I understand your point, but I also still stand by some change being necessary, even if it's, as you said, something less overt and/or mentioning her being interpreted as or being a metaphor for (or what have you) being trans in a triva point
though I'd also like to point out that mothy being japanese didn't stop him from writing a canonical lesbian relationship, nor did it stop him from calling out racism in japan through jakoku, or potentially making an entire race of nonbinary people if that's what's up with the forest spirits, and it also didn't it stop him from creating just, all of behemo
there are gay and trans and nonbinary and bi and ace people in japan, and there are allies that are fighting for their freedom. it feels wrong to have his nationality play into whether we interpret one of his characters as trans or not
I'll concede to a lot of this; ultimately, Michaela's end gender identity ends up at odds with something--whether it's her memories of Michael's gender identity, Michael's body, her time as a spirit, or something else, and that's something you can define as a trans experience. I'm mostly just discussing the point about Michael because that was an original point of contention, but it is something to keep in mind, it's true.
The wording for that scene can be changed, as well, if that's another point of contention. Yes, it ultimately was up to Michaela; since Elluka expresses surprise at the woman she picked it presumably was out of her control if Michaela decided to choose a male body at the last minute.
Elluka's statement, which is backed up by Michaela and the way the narrative and Held himself refers to most of the spirits, set the baseline for the spirits being assumed to be genderless. Since Lich and Eater (and Eater is a hard case because iirc Song of the Black Bird is from Lich's first person perspective) are exceptions to that treatment vs. 3 personal examples (3 excluding Lich and Eater, I mean,) one broad statement and follow-up treatment, they're currently regarded as just exceptions--especially in the case of someone like Lich, who died in the crash and wandered over to the forest instead of for sure going through the same motions as the other forest spirits.
If something suggested the idea that forest spirits, as a whole, are not genderless and Elluka and Michaela didn't know what they were talking about at the time, we wouldn't have a problem. That's all it is.
But yeah; I can agree to acknowledgement of the issue in the form of a trivia point, and probably trying to use more neutral wording in Michaela's history section.
my point with the statement about lich being an exception is less that it isn't a rule that held or Whomstever set, but rather that we just don't know what the specific spirits personally identify as. being trans is, after all, identifying with a different gender than the one you were raised with or expected to have
but ! I'll also admit that I actually didn't know that about lich ! I'm actually surprised that I didn't, so thank you for telling me !
though we also don't know that he's the only forest spirit that's retained his memories ! at least not for certain. I'm not even saying this as like, a point for or against any of This, more just there's a precident of characters retaining their memories when they shouldn't (hansel and gretel, riliane's reincarnations missing their "other half," several characters on the fourth period, possibly maria/alice, etc) and I wouldn't at all be surprised if mothy revealed more if he has a cool enough idea to justify it :b
but I can't thank you enough for hearing me out ! really, this fandom has been a part of my life since middle school, and I can't imagine dropping it within this decade. I don't want anyone to feel pushed out, and I want new people to have the resources necessary to have it resonate with them for the same reasons I have
as a gay person michaela has always been important to me, so the reveal that she was gay and trans was absolutely incredible
I am, of course, volunteering to make these changes (unless somebody else really wants to do the honors I suppose :b) though it'll probably have to wait until tomorrow because I'm Pretty Low On Sleep Atm
I don't trust myself to write things that both sound good and don't have any spelling or grammar mistakes :b
Also good points; when/if the forest spirits get brought back up in later materials (such as if mothy does make that OSS novel, for example) it'll be an issue to keep an eye on. The series makes a point to introduce exceptions into things already established, so it's not unreasonable to expect exceptions will be made if it's continued in the future.
You're welcome for the info! As well as for the being heard out. 0o0/ I appreciated the levelheaded discussion; you were right, too, that if people have an issue with something they can bring it up even if we're busy with other things. Progress might be slow depending on what it is the article trimming nightmare but it can still get noted.