[T]his essay (…) forwards an initial rereading of the Superman origin story as influenced by my own experiences of transitioning genders. Within the world of comics, an origin story typically refers to a canonized account that explains how a hero or group of heroes came into being. The assumption that one may be able to precisely locate the moment or moments during which the superhero identity began to take shape may ring familiar to trans readers, who may similarly be asked to continually locate the origins of their own gender identities—the presumption being, of course, that cis persons are not usually asked the question ‘When did you know?’ While the textual examples used in this article in some way entertain the idea that a point of origin is possible to locate, I wish to show how these narratives are perhaps the most malleable to reinterpret from a trans reading position given the overlapping and persistent preoccupation with locating identity within a specific temporal boundary.
Vena, Dan. 2017. “Rereading Superman as a Trans F/Man.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 25.
Dan Vena’s essay intertwines his experience as a trans man and trans fan with his reading and “transing” of Superman, as well as theories of comic books, superheroes, and gender. His rereading of Superman as a trans character allows him to ask questions about ideas of boyhood, masculinity, and becoming a man – for both trans and cis men. Vena’s personal narrative of his experiences of transition and his relationship with Superman as a fan object is a running theme throughout the essay, making it a very accessible piece of scholarship.