By Isaac Gallegos R. villon.promethee_grn_Words have historically been used to oppress deviant individuals, however, unbeknownst to many, the very diction used to oppress can be reclaimed, therefore empowering the socially deviant.  Trans activist Jessica Fisher, in her article, “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action”, demonstrates how oppressed trans people can reclaim transphobic diction to empower themselves. And in context to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the action of reclaiming an oppressive word for empowerment can allow for a deeper analysis of the Creature and it’s critical character progression, while simultaneously supporting Fisher’s claim trans reclamation.

Jessica Rae Fisher, as a transgender female, understood the potential malice words could contain; as a queer adolescent, Fisher was victimized by her father for her difference and remembered him calling her a “commie pink bedwetting faggot”(Fisher). Fisher also came to recognize this as a systemic issue, not a personal problem: transgender people everywhere experienced a type of communal ostracization. Not only were transgender individuals outcast by their heteronormative counterparts, but also by the queer communities they sought refuge in. And if action wasn’t taken against this systematic transphobia, transgender individuals, like Filisia Vistima, would continue to suffer.  That is why, according to Jessica Rae Fisher and other trans activists, participating in ‘transgender rage’ was essential for the wellbeing of transgender individuals. Transgender rage, a phrase coined by Susan Stryker, is the “emotional response to conditions in which it becomes imperative to take up […] a set of practices that […] seeks to maintain itself as the only possible basis for being a subject”(Stryker, 249). In other words, transgender rage allowed for the survival of trans people in a highly transphobic society, through the skillful use of repurposing their rage and emotions for something productive and beneficial. An example of transgender rage was the active reclamation of transphobic diction, and even changing the connotations associated with them; Fisher and Stryker believed that it was critical for trans resistance to reclaim words like “creature:’ “monster:’ and “unnatural”, consequently allowing trans empowerment.

The reclamation of oppressive diction to empower an oppressed individual applies to the trans community, but it can also be observed within the character of the Creature, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (excerpt below):

“My feelings were those of rage and revenge. I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me;  from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.”(Shelley, 121)

The Creature was created as an “unnatural body”, a product of “medical science”, and was “perceived as less than fully human due to the means [of it’s] embodiment”(Stryker, 238). And like trans people, the Creature was oppressed by all society, even by ones it expected support from the most (i.e., Victor Frankenstein, queer community). The Creature, subjected to violence and rejection, would have succumbed to its injuries if it had not been for a critical shift in conscience. Instead of allowing itself to be victimized without consequence, the Creature decided to embrace its role as “arch-fiend” and “monster”; consequently, this reclamation of diction helped the creature shift the power dynamic between itself and Victor Frankenstein so that it could be the one who held the power. It didn’t matter that the Creature was viewed as a monster by society or by Victor, what mattered was that this “monster” identity allowed the Creature’s presence to be noticed and validated. And for trans people, like Fisher and Stryker, that is all they want — to be validated.