By: Mary Russell

Jessica Rae Fisher and Susan Stryker both seek to reclaim the title “monster” from their oppressors. As transgender women, their existence is viewed as unnatural as, “The product of medical science. It is a technological construction. It is flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than that in which it was born” (Stryker 2). The creation of Frankenstein’s monster is often likened to this view of transitioning, because the creature is an unnatural amalgamation of parts. In viewing the creature purely as a monster, this comparison is cruel. Fisher and Stryker however seek to take this description for themselves, and use it as armor against the cruelness of the world. The creature is often seen as sympathetic in it’s rage against it’s creator, and so to is the transgender rage sympathetic.

The creature is best understood when explaining it’s plight to Frankenstein himself. The creature tells it’s creator, “I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone?… If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me?” (Shelley 93). The creature loved, and wanted to be loved. Unfortunately, he was alone and an outcast. He could not seek refuge in human society, nor in the home of his creator. Filisa Vistima was rejected from her community, a blow felt by all transgender individuals at one point or another. Like Vistima, like the creature, they feel rejected by society for no other reason than their existence. They want to love and be loved. Eventually, the creature learned of the hatred he would experience in society as transgender people learn. As a defense against this disappointment and isolation, the creature chooses to hate mankind first. The creature is, “Miserable, and they [mankind] shall share my wretchedness,” (Shelley 93). To defend against the pain of rejection, the creature chooses to reflect this pain back on the aggressors. They will feel their hatred, and feel how miserable it is. Transgender rage is a manifestation of the creature’s defense mechanism. Instead of internalizing their wounds, they throw them back.

The creature is not only relatable in it’s rage however. When living with the cottagers, the creature states that he learned,

Of the difference of sexes; and the birth and growth of children; how the father doted on the smiles of the infant, and the lively sallies of the older child; how all the life and cares of the mother were wrapped up in the precious charge; how the mind of youth expanded and gained knowledge; of brother, sister, and all the various relationships which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds.

But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing… What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans. (Shelley 109-110)

The creature questions it’s own gender and how it fits into the norms he witnesses. The DeLacey family showed the creature what it was to be a father, what it was to be a brother or a sister, and what it was to be a man or a woman. The creature associated these roles as inherent with gender. Without experiencing any of these things, the creature is left wondering what it is. It had no mother or father, and no siblings therefore it does not know what role it fills. Fisher states that she feels, “Uncertainty about where I [Fisher] stand in relation to my community,” (Fisher). Not only does Fisher feel out of place in her community, she questions her role in it. Stryker too experiences an “abnormal” family life, with her lover and children. The nuclear family feels out of touch for transgender individuals, and often they feel uncertain of their roles as children. A woman will feel uncomfortable raised with masculine expectations, and will be uncomfortable with their discomfort. She would become alienated from her gender expression, and wonder where she belonged. She would wonder, “What was I?” with seemingly no answers.

The creature is a reflection of the transgender rage, loneliness, and alienation felt by the community. The creature feels the acute isolation and hatred symptomatic of societal hatred relatable to transgender individuals. It’s rage is their rage. It’s sadness is their sadness. The creature’s unnatural nature was used as an insult to the trans community, but upon reevaluation it can be reclaimed as a medal of honor. Those who spew hatred at transgender individuals should fear the rage they are creating.