Ali experiments with her gender expressions in several ways throughout the seasons of Transparent, but it’s especially present in the fourth season (which mainly takes place in Israel). Ali’s personal journey towards finding her true ‘self’ becomes a big focus point in the fourth season of Transparent, where Ali’s trying to put her frustrations and thoughts regarding her journey towards understanding her gender identity into words:
(7:23 i Babar the Borrible)
[Maura:] What’s going on?
[Ali:] I don’t know, I just – I don’t, I don’t feel right. I don’t feel good.
[M:] I understand… I felt that way (…) I understand
[A:] I just don’t feel good in my body. (…) I don’t feel.. in my body…
[M:] Do you think you’re trans?
[A:] I… I… I don’t know. I don’t know if I… feel like a woman. Whatever that means
Ali’s uneasiness of being ‘that kind of woman’ society wants to define her as comes from her having seen Maura being treated very unfairly by society (See The bathroom problem, She’s a woman right? Well he said he has a penis (said posts are underway)), simply because she does not meet the current discourses (defined by the patriarchy) that dictates how one should look and who to love in order to be accepted as a ‘woman’. Ali starts to question everything she knows and becomes more and more aware of how forced we actually are when it comes to “choosing” (well, conform to) certain categories based on binary understandings:
(13:28 in I Never Promised You a Promised Land)
Seems like it’s about human rights to me (…) the arabs and jews. Just blacks and whites, men and women. Fucking binary. Everywhere you look, screwing things up
Ali is therefore to be seen as a representative for the many people, who identify as in-between the narrow identity-/gender- and sexual categories which society is currently founded on. Ali, as well as Transparent in general, tries to break with those neither-nor categories:
In another attempt to stir the pot and challenge traditional binary separations of ‘men’ and ‘women’ (et al.), Ali goes to the ‘men’s’ side of the Wailing Wall in Israel, since, as she points out, this separation gives more power to ‘men’ as a category (they have three times the space ‘women’ have), which she refuses to accept:
This act might not just be because she is in a state of rebellion, but also because she questions her own gender identity, which means that she can, the same way she could when she wore the strap-on (Strap-on, strap-off) come to feel the privileges that comes with being a ‘man’ and only by doing this, will it be possible to dismantle the master’s house – not with the master’s own tools of course (oh, how we LOVE Audre Lorde). Since the core project of Transparent is to challenge patriarchy’s dominant societal position – and the suppression it causes.