Moriarty the Patriot Takes a Positive Stance on Trans Rights

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 15 of Moriarty the Patriot, "The Phantom of Whitechapel, Part 1," now streaming on Funimation.

Moriarty the Patriot has spent its first season fashioning its titular star into less of a scheming villain designed to push Sherlock Holmes to the limit, and more of a complex antihero admiring Holmes from the shadows. Episode 15 begins a new arc for the anime centered on London's most notorious killer, Jack the Ripper, but it also takes the time to further flesh out the 'heroic' side of William by revealing him to be a supporter of transgender rights, or at the very least, an individual's right to self-identify.

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At the end of the previous "A Scandal in the British Empire" arc, a classic Sherlock Holmes character was secretly laid to rest, and James Bonde joined the Lord of Crime's gang. At the start of Episode 15, Louis shows Bonde to a room in the Moriartys' London home shared by marksman Sebastian Moran and underworld spy, Fred Porlock. A naked Moran is startled when Bonde enters the space, insisting that he is a "woman" who doesn't belong there, immediately calling to mind present-day, real-life bathroom debates surrounding transgendered peoples' right to access whichever restroom corresponds to their gender identity.

Moriarty the Patriot James Bonde

What is admirable in Moriarty the Patriot is Bonde's cool dismissal of Moran's blustering: "Moran, I am a man. I'd like you to treat me as a man." Moran goes on to claim that Bonde's physical attributes disqualify him from identifying as such, which Bonde -- playing on the obvious homophobia (as well as transphobia) that underlines the Colonel's discomfort -- challenges with a display of strength and flirtatious confidence. Moran, looking for backup from the other cisgendered men, thankfully receives none from either Moriarty brother. "Mr. Bonde is a man now," Louis reminds him, "so I do not see the problem." Similarly, when William arrives to find out what all the commotion is, he tears down Moran's issue for, well, the non-issue that it is: "Are you saying that you're taking some issue with a fellow man sharing the same room?"

Though the quarrel is quashed, William still recognizes that there's lingering disharmony among his ranks. So, he covertly deploys Moran, Bonde, Fred and Louis to carry out the first stage of their Jack the Ripper mission. At first, the group is confused as to why their leader is putting all of his eggs in one basket, but once the mission gives Bonde a chance to prove his unique ability for misdirection (and ninja-like combat) -- impressing Moran -- it becomes clear that William's intent was to erase any unease by building an on-the-job rapport between them all. In the end, Moran accepts that he and Bonde are on equal footing, even if their life experiences and skill sets differ.

Moriarty the Patriot
Moriarty the Patriot

The episode does a good job in establishing with casual grace, exactly how Bonde wants to be seen going forward, and encourages the audience, by way of countering Moran's ignorance, to accept him for who he is. Meanwhile, William's commitment to social justice, as an ally of the downtrodden, is strengthened by speaking up for Bonde when asked to, and conversely, taking himself out of the spotlight when he recognizes Bonde needs it for himself. Moriarty the Patriot might take place over 100 years ago, but that doesn't mean its identity politics are out of date.

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