If you’re at least somewhat experienced in anime, or well-versed in meme culture, you’ve probably seen or heard of a trap from time to time. With hit shows like Re:Zero and the Fate series, featuring such characters as Felix Argyle or Astolfo respectively, traps have become somewhat of a mainstream concept in internet culture. But apparently, some self-righteous megalomaniacs decided to take it upon themselves to ruin and control such a beautiful art form, And by self-righteous megalomaniacs, I’m referring to some (not all. I cannot stress that enough) transgender people, and those who think it’s necessary to be offended on their behalf, who think that the word is nothing more than some vile slur made to put them down.
Before I continue, It should be asked: what defines a trap? A trap is a male, mainly in anime and manga, who dresses and acts in an overly cutesy and/or feminine manner. It’s like a crossdresser, but rather than just putting on a dress and calling it good, they tend to go the extra mile by being nearly indistinguishable from a woman in both looks and mannerisms. The word trap comes less from the fact that they actively try to deceive you, but rather that you are fooled on your own accord. You trap yourself. Another thing to note is that they’re pretty open about the fact that they’re a guy, with a few exceptions. Either way, they usually aren’t gonna lie to you about it.
Well now that we’ve gone over what a trap is, why are trans people so up-in-arms about the word? Some of them claim that the word “trap” is being used to deny their identity. They think that the word is primarily used to call them a guy who dresses as a girl so they can bait men into sex. But in reality, most people don’t care whether someone wants to be called a girl, guy, both, or neither. For the most part, that concept of the use of the word is nothing more than a delusion created to be able to play the victim any time the word is mentioned.
Now for what this is really about: they’re not just going after people using the word in reality, but they’re also going after traps in anime. Claiming them as their own. Take the aforementioned Felix Argyle and Astolfo for example.
For Felix, they always say he’s a trans girl because of little quotes here and there, such as calling himself a “wonderful and cute girl” in the mirror in a Re:Zero spinoff novel. This looks like it would make sense, until you go into the character and realize that it’s all out-of-context BS. Him calling himself a girl acts more as an incantation, so to speak. The entire reason that he does it is to preserve his cuteness so he can uphold some childhood agreement he made with his lifelong friend and alpha-waifu Crusch. He wanted to keep the femininity and cuteness that Crusch couldn’t display. He still calls himself a guy, everyone who knows him calls him a guy, and for fuck’s sake, even the author calls him a guy whenever he talks about him. But no. These people have the audacity to say that the damn author is wrong. In this blog post from Trans Women in Media about Felix, they’re quoted as saying, “So, that leaves us with one particularly pressing question. Is Ferris coded as trans? The author would say no, clearly, but that doesn’t outright mean coding isn’t at work.”⁽¹⁾ No. That’s not how any of that works. To be fair, though, it seems like the blog author isn’t entirely sure about calling Felix trans either. However, you can find plenty that are dead-set on the subject online, especially on Twitter.
Astolfo is a bit different, though. Alongside trying to claim that he is trans, people tend to say that he’s nonbinary. On that same note, the evidence is just as dumb as the claim. They say that just because of a joke in Fate/Grand Order, a mobile RPG based on the series, in which on Astolfo’s profile sheet, it says “As per Astolfo’s request, their gender is a secret.” This is it. This is all they have to go on. They see this shit and think, “Oh, that MUST mean that this person is canonically neither male nor female.” As for the trans claim, there’s even less to it. Like with a lot of other traps in anime, they have nothing to go off of other than their appearance and behavior. With Astolfo, it’s easy to see the feminine side in both aforementioned aspects. However, this doesn’t relate to his gender. In fact, the only reason he dresses and acts like he does is because he simply likes cute things. There’s no underlying meaning to it all nor does it have any impactful backstory. He just likes to be cute. But some people can’t live with that, so they have to keep reassuring themselves that their little headcanon is truth and anyone who disagrees is nothing more than a transphobic bigot who shouldn’t be given the time of day to be heard out. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
Now to be serious for a moment, I do not believe that “trap” is a slur nor do I think it’s right for people to try to claim their own headcanon as fact. That being said, I also recognize that the word can be used in a derogatory manner. Words can still be used against others despite their primary meaning and we should all at least have the courtesy to not lash out unprovoked. There’s no reason to use trap in a negative manner. It only hinders the work to say that it isn’t associated with a derogatory meaning. All in all, I, as well as anyone affiliated with Escape Zero, do not condone any harassment toward anyone, including trans people.