Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Degrassi: Next Class" Character Comes Out as Genderqueer in Latest Season

I was pretty excited this weekend when the latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" dropped on Netflix. I managed to watch the entire season on Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Really great stuff. I'm sure that I will write more about the latest season soon.

But I want to write tonight about develops involving Yael, Degrassi's resident gamer girl/ feminist fighter. (Jon's Note: Sorry about that. I was just trying for some alliteration...)

Yael has always pushed the bounds of individualism on the show. She likes to game. She hangs out primarily with boys (up until this season). And she's never been one to hide behind gender roles. But this latest season of "Degrassi: Next Class" really shakes things up for young Yael. (Jon's Note: See? More alliteration!!)

It starts out in the first episode when Yael avoids various activities because of the size of her breasts. Her friend Lola susses out that Yael isn't getting enough support up front, which causes a lot of back strain. A shopping trip for better-fitting bras does the trick... except that Yael finds herself very uncomfortable with the way that her male friends continue to focus on her newly prominent boobs.

That's when she discovers binding. Yael begins compressing her breasts in an effort to deemphasize her breasts. She then quits shaving her legs and her underarms -- something that really bugs her boyfriend Hunter. But these acts begin leading her down the road of questioning both her sexual orientation and her gender identity.

Yael confides more to Lola about her confusion. She knows that she's not a lesbian. She knows that she's attracted to Hunter and other boys. And she knows that she doesn't want to become a boy. But she also knows that she doesn't feel like a conventional girls.

She feels in-between. She doesn't like make-up or other things that most girls like. She hates her breasts. But she also doesn't feel like a boy.

Lola introduces Yael to the concept of being genderqueer, or genderfluid. It's a former of gender identity for those who don't identify with either end of the gender spectrum. And -- in true Lola fashion -- she offers to give Yael a make-over.

The results were perfect.

In true Degrassi spirit, most of Yael's friends rally to her side and help her come up with the gender pronouns of her preference -- "they," "their," and "them." Sadly, her romantic life doesn't survive the journey.

But I really love the friendship that's developed over the past two seasons between Yael and Lola. They started out hating each other and now they're such great supports for each other.

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