The Lup Problem

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See also: Trans Characters in Fandom, Lup, Taako
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The Lup Problem is a hashtag started to draw attention to and incite discussion on fanart portrayals of Lup and Taako from The Adventure Zone: Balance. The characters are twins: Taako is canonically a gay man and Lup is canonically a trans woman.

The hashtag was started in 2018 by Tumblr user plaidos who has made many posts on the subject.

Excerpts of "Lup Problem" discussion posts

people either make her as trans-looking as possible (note: if ur cis………dont………do……….this……..), or they make her visibly butcher than taako (which is ridiculously shitty because whether you mean it or not, your art is asserting “gay men are more traditionally feminine than trans women”), OR they go the complete other way and make her this curvacious hyper-sexualised hourglass lady like… it’s like these people have never met any trans woman. i legitimately saw somebody draw her with bone-tiddies in her lich form. NO JOKE. this fucking website needs to learn how to draw trans people respectfully because they’re putting in literally zero effort right now[1]

[Anonymous ask to @mcelboycontent]
Whenever someone draws a picture of a similar-looking Lup n Taako I always look to see which has more piercings to determine which is which
taako: hat, umbrella, usually longer hair, dumpster fashion

lup: shorter hair or side shave, piercings, tattoos, hot topic disaster

gotta say, as a trans woman, im not big on the fact that Lup having shorter hair and Taako having longer, more feminine hair is considered a fandom norm, and i know some gay guys who aren’t too big on it either.
next person to tell me “uhhh trans women dont need to be hyperfeminine you fucking transphobe” gets a punch in the nards, because that is so obviously missing the point almost intentionally.

if you’re not a trans woman, you should not be consistently portraying a trans woman as presenting more masculinely than a gay guy (esp. if you’re not a gay guy either!!!) for pretty damn obvious reasons.

by the way, the reason people portray Lup this way is because none of these artists know any trans women at all, and know nothing about transfeminine fashion, and just think “Lup’s a woman… and LGBT… right?” so they just design her how they think a cis wlw looks lol. you can tell because most Lup designs are identical to Aubrey designs lmao[2]

it’s 2019 and i don’t know how to explain to you that it’s a problem how the TAZ fandom consistently portrays Lup, a trans woman, as aesthetically more masculine than her gay, DMAB, identical twin brother, who is consistently portrayed as identical to a cis woman.
since very few TAZ fandom blogs are brave enough to admit they’re guilty of this/seeing Lup this way, i’ve taken it upon myself to (gently) DM the original artist of every piece of TAZ fanart i see that falls into these traps, because more often than not, they respond really positively.

honestly, i 100% do not think it is the artists so much as it is the generic fandom masses that lap that trans/homophobic shit Right Up, because 99% of the artists i’ve talked to about this have immediately apologized and changed their ways.

The Adventure Zone fandom has a major problem with the way they portray Taako and Lup – Taako is fetishized to the extent of being comparable to RCDart’s work, where he is often depicted with tight mesh clothing, women’s clothing/underwear, gogo boots, high heels, a face full of makeup and other stereotypes of gay men. YES, i acknowledge some gay men (particularly drag queens) DO dress like certain aspects of this design, but if you’re not a gay man, i would suggest you uhhhh stay away from that wildly homophobic rhetoric. it’s a caricature plain and simple.

Lup, on the other hand, is portrayed like people think a cis wlw looks – she’s given the proportions of a cis woman irt hips, breasts, butt, legs, waist etc (I even saw one of her litch form with bone tiddies i shit you not), but she dresses as what the artists seem to think a cis wlw looks like, often because they are themselves a cis wlw (or at very least, a wlw who is not trans feminine), with loose plaid, ripped jeans, an undercut or even just shaved hair, little-to-no makeup, flats/sneakers, maybe a denim jacket or something similar. never makeup, never long hair, never skirts, never dresses.

it is suspicious to me that a fandom which overwhelmingly consists of people who are neither gay men nor trans women depict a gay man as looking somewhere between a tame drag queen and identical to a cis woman, and a trans woman who looks basically as though the artist thinks maybe a bi woman or a lesbian might look.

it becomes super apparent to me that these people don’t actually know anything about trans women’s fashion or gay men’s fashion, or either of these subcultures. i doubt many of the fandom even know any trans women in more than just passing due to the way they consistently portray her.

if you’re still struggling to see the problem, sit down and ask yourself: why is the gay man drawn like a cis woman, and his transgender sister drawn like a butch lesbian swap of that design? why might that be the case? what stereotypes about gay men and trans women may be coming into play here

on a final note, this harks back to one of the earlier problems i had with the TAZ fandom: non trans women (particularly cis wlw/nb wlw) all deciding at the same time that they hated Lup’s relationship with Barry Bluejeans because it wasn’t gay enough, as if a trans woman being openly herself and openly in love with a cis man isn’t radical enough, doesn’t question the status quo enough. i understand that many people can’t relate to a straight woman (myself included, i’m a big fucking dyke) as much as they can a bi woman or a lesbian, but it was terrifying to see that non trans women could only care about/relate to/find solidarity and enjoyment with a trans woman if she was also one of Them, as if being a trans woman didn’t make her an integral part of LGBT representation even whilst being straight. it was terrifying, it was so so scary, and it illuminated to me so many things about fandom & the way trans women are treated within fandom. that’s all i have to say.

tl;dr: stop drawing Lup and Taako as stereotypes of trans women and gay men, especially if you’re neither. it’s gross. we hate it. we really really hate it. furthermore, whilst you can make Lup’s outfits/portrayal a bit more feminine, stop giving her a cis woman’s frame, maybe? there’s a sweet spot in the middle. it is artists’ duty and responsibility to treat minorities in their work with respect.

one final note: lots of people have messaged me saying “oh, it makes sense for Lup to have shorter hair, though! she’s a fire wizard! it’s for safety that she has short hair!”

Taako is a chef, you incomprehensible nincompoop[3]

If you showed someone who’s not into TAZ a drawing of Taako and Lup and they couldn’t tell you which one of them was a man and which one is a woman: That’s. An. Issue. On multiple levels for potentially multiple reasons rooted in transphobia/transmisogyny and homophobia.[4]

Apparently people think portraying Lup as like… ‘butch’/Stag is a problem and Taako looking feminine-r is a problem and like… Guys. Can we address the actual problem of some people drawing the twins exactly the same? Like literally indistinguishable? Instead of a masculine(ish)- but- feminine Lup and a feminine(ish)-but-masculine Taako?

Sincerely your local gay trans guy


hi this isnt me trying to undermine your post at all, i absolutely see what youre saying 100%.

what people mean when they talk about drawing lup masculine and taako feminine isnt them railing against gender constructs. its usually people (me included) being pissed off at the fact that a lot of the time, the trans woman looks more like a man than the cis man.

it reinforces the idea that trans women are just men, and gay men may as well be women. the feminization of taako and masculinization of lup are a problem in the taz fandom. its not a consious thing that people are thinking about when they draw them, its an engrained harmful stereotype about both groups.

like i said before, i totally agree, fuck gender roles and gender norms. however, this is one case in which people need to actually think before they draw or portray these two specific characters.

sincerely, another gay trans man[5]