Becoming Superman: Interpolating Transsexuality into the Superman Narrative

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Vena, Daniel
sequential art studies , transsexuality , trans studies , comic studies , Superman , transgender , FTMs , superhero studies
Reflecting the masculine ethos of the larger comic book industry, superhero comics continue to be male-dominated spaces. Within comic studies, superhero scholars problematically normalize this androcentrism by reiterating the genre’s masculinist rhetoric, repeatedly positioning superheroes as stoic figures of whiteness, nationhood, heteronormativity and able-bodied masculinity. Although some intervention has been made to challenge these interpretations, scholars fail to acknowledge how transgender and/or transsexual readers evaluate comic heroes. This thesis provides one such intervention into the field, specifically focusing on the last son of Krypton, Superman. Drawing together the work of trans, queer, feminist, psychoanalytic, and monster theorists, my research attempts to “trans” Superman; thus, (re)reading the Man of Steel in a way that distinctly reflects the experiences of those who are denied access to the figure via their/our own gender “transgressions”. By interpolating transsexuality into the Superman narrative, I rewrite the figure’s place within the genre’s cis-sexist, masculinist history and while doing so, (re)position him as a more suitable hero for the trans community.
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