Tag Archive: Stryker


“Monster”? How About No.

Stryker’s article on how the transgender should reclaim the word “monster” is insulting. I am not trans myself, so I can’t speak much about the topic; however, I have never heard the term be used towards trans, and therefore cannot agree with Stryker’s argument. She had a weak theory that I cannot accept. However, I can see the connection she makes towards Frankenstein, yet her argument is not strong enough to gain my attention overall.

Bianca Lopez Munoz

Isolation is on of Frankenstein’s biggest themes. We see it through Victor’s ambitious scientific endevour and within the creature as they wander around the world. As Stryker mentioned, trans individuals are isolated not only from ‘normal’ society, but also the LGBT+ community AND as Jessica said, this non-acceptance and lonliness is what causes 40% of trans folks to attempt suicide.

“I was dependant of none, and related to none ‘The path of my departure was free; and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them” (Shelley, 115).

The creature did not have a person or community to depend on as a support system, they only had themselves to teach itself and try and define who they are. But based on what they learned from books and watching society, they concluded that they are unatural and a monster. ‘there was none to lament my annihilation’ reminds me not just of that statistic about suicide but also of the violence that threatens trans people’s lives on the daily. People are murdered everyday and I feel rage within me that people don’t care enough about the issue. The creature describes themselves as ‘hideous’ and ‘gigantic’ this sort of reminds me of the gender dysphoria that trans people often feel about their body. Gender dysphoria is an uneasy, distressing feeling that a person sometimes feels when their genitals or secondary sex characteristics do not match their internal gender identity. Not only does this cause a lot of anxiety, but when a trans individual doesn’t ‘pass’ as the gender they are wanting to present, it can possibly spark violence against them and this can cause more anxiety and depression. The ‘who, what, where, whence, and why’ is the creature trying to give and find themselves an identity and a purpose. They stuggle to answer these questions because they don’t have the answers within the books and the ‘normal society’ and they know no one like themselves, so they are very isolated. Throughout this blog post I’ve been refering to the creature as ‘they’ instead of ‘it’ as I have done in my past blog posts and I find that interesting because through the trans lense of both Stryker’s and Jessica’s pieces, I became sort of aware of my language so, by refering to the creature as ‘they’, it feels like I’m doing them more justice than identifying them as an just an ‘it’. And referring to them as a ‘he’ hasn’t sat with me well in all of my analysis of this book so I think I’ll continue to refer to the creature with they/them pronouns.

Frankenstein

As for the oddities I’ve noticed in the original 1831 Frontispiece to Frankenstein, this might be my own perverse eye, BUT, the window in the background seems to have about 7 possible phallic symbols. The creature is looking down,confused, possibly between their legs. I’m assuming this is the scene where the creature is animated and Victor runs away. Understandably, the creature is confused and disoriented from just being ‘born’ but the confusion and the direction that the confusion if directed at could be interpreted as a trans person being dysphoric/confused/uneasy as to why they have they genitals that have when it doesn’t coorelate with their internal identity.

“How Can I Move Thee?”

Self identification is a matter in which I have very little authority in. To define oneself as surely based on their emotion is something that eludes me, but which I work harder at everyday in order to understand the Individual. The ways in which Jessica Rae Fisher and Susan Stryker struggle in becoming who they are destined to be demonstrate to me that, despite the animosity thrown their ways from the very communities that should have stood at their sides in camaraderie, inspires within the soul a sense of distress. It must be understood that the use of pronouns and the celebration of using negative terms in resistance plays an important part within the narrative that Fisher tries to make in her blog post “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action.”

As both Fisher and Stryker find a sense of similarity with Victor Frankenstein’s Creature, it is important to note the use of pronoun that the Creature uses to identify as. Within the novel, there are many instances where the Creature and his creator uses the masculine pronouns he and him to describe the being. There is never an explicit passage within the confines of the novel that say, “And Victor thus created a man in his own imagination” (Despite when Victor describes the features of the Creature on pages 59-60(“His limbs were in proportion […] His yellow skin […] his hair […] his teeth)); it is through the learning that the creature endures soon after his production that he starts to define himself as a man. As Victor chose and picked many of the bones from the charnel-house and gathered many other materials from the dissecting tables and the slaughter-house, there is almost no doubt that the creature could be an amalgamation of many different fleshes from man and woman. When the creature experiences the natural world, he makes discoveries of ecology and society and literature. It is through his understandings that he identifies as man, declaring on page 93 “I ought to be thy Adam” and demanding on page 129 “a creature of another sex” which Victor believes will bear children of a new monstrous race in Africa. The Creature himself shows that he believes to be of a masculine nature, and thus adopts the pronouns that he both has had assigned to him as well as using them to describe himself.

In the case with Fisher using rage to kill with kindness, it is absolutely promoted  that she continue upon the path of most resistance, as she mirrors the plight of the Creature: “If any being felt the emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them an hundred and an hundred fold; for that one creature’s sake, I would make peace with the whole kind” (page 129)! As both of them are on the journey to become accepted for who they truly are and to finally come into acceptance with those that can share their experience, then they must continue to pursue that dream of the day in which they can finally live in peace with the rest of mankind and not be seen as a Monstrous Creature but as a Living Being.

-Alejandro Joseph Serrano

monster’s rage

In both Susan Stryker’s essay and in Jessica Rae Fisher’s response to the essay, they both make connections with Frankenstein and the transgenders. Stryker makes a sense of reclaiming the words “creature” and “monster” as their own. In Fisher’s article, I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action, she agrees with Stryker, “I think we should reclaim the words monster and creature. I think that if the villagers want to see us as unnatural, that we should embrace that.”, once transgenders are able to accept those words they can’t be hurt by them. Transgenders are able to relate to the monster in some kind of way of not being accepted, their rage comes from the same place of feeling lonely, hurt, and alienated.

Fisher’s article is able to connect with the question of what gender is the monster. In the novel it is referred to as “he”, but the monster himself didn’t know what he was because he didn’t fit the looks of the village people. “I had never seen yet a being resemble me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I.”(Shelly 110). In another way you can again relate the monster and transgenders, not knowing their true identity. Still to this day the question of gender identity is popular and it seems now through a deeper analysis in the novel Frankenstein it’s a big question as well.frankenstein-2

Alexuz Bejarano

By: Sandra Tzoc

individual-different

The creature is an outcast in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and so are the members of the LGBTQ+ community. Society for a long time has had restrictions on those who are different whether it be because of their physical appearance or their sexual preference. Stryker gives her two cents on pushing forward and gaining back power that has been neglected to the transgender community. She suggests that derogatory terms such as “faggot” and “monster” should be reclaimed by the community in order to crush the negative connotations to seize empowerment. The words can no longer be used to hurt if they are reclaimed and given a new light. This movement is supported by Jessica Rae Fisher, writer of “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Stryker’s call to action” where she states, “It is well worth embracing who we are as monsters. It isn’t our responsibility to make the villagers understand or accept us, and maybe, in fact, we can’t”. This further emphasizes the exclusion that transgender people face, but also the importance of claiming these nouns in order to unarm the transphobics. However, this sentence also raises questions such as: why isn’t it our responsibility to make them understand? Is Fisher implying then to remain quiet and let the villagers marinate in ignorance? If this is the case then I disagree, I think there are people who have transphobic views because they are ignorant and because they have huddled so tightly in their close-mindedness that they won’t accept anybody that is different. It is important to get information out there and educate people because everybody deserves to be who they want to be and love who they want to love. If discussions and advocacy of these important topics are not pursued, then there won’t be any steps to take forward.

Both Stryker and Fisher include the story of Filisa Vistima who was a male to woman transgender but was excluded from her own community. She searched for acceptance from her own community, her own family but was banished. This occurs to the creature as well, where even his creator, Victor, abandons and neglects him. Vistima wrote, “I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’, so I could go swimming… But no, I am a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster” before she commit suicide. She felt like an outcast, like a monster. Similarly, the creature felt no sense of belonging because he did not look like the rest. In chapter 12 he says, “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers- their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!”. These renderings by Vistima and the creature demonstrate the inner tension built by the rejection of society and those who were supposed to love them. So much that they desired to change their appearances in order to fit in with the rest. This is why it is important to continue to share everyone’s stories and to advocate in order to make them heard.

In class, there was a discussion on the gender of the creature and this was the depiction of what goes on in society. We try to label each other and put everyone into a mold. Some said that the creature was male because he said so himself. However, what if the creature called himself a male because his creator, Victor, referred to him, labeled him, a male. Perhaps, he followed what everybody else called him. This shows the creature forced into the “heterosexual economy” as Stryker states. I can also recall a student’s argument that the creature was a male because “he” asked for a female partner. However, this argument portrays restriction upon the creature’s sexual preference. What if the creature was a lesbian? Who knows. We are nobody to question or force any label onto anybody else. Perhaps, Mary Shelley wrote this novel for introspection, because it reveals the way we think in the manner in which we interpret the text.

In Susan Stryker’s essay and Jessica Rae Fisher’s response to Stryker’s essay, they make a strong connection between transgender people and Frankenstein’s monster. Initially, it may not appear that there are many similarities between transgenders and the monster, until we analyze the ways in which they are isolated and rejected from communities in which they wish to belong to and their rage as a result. Jessica expresses that as a transgender person, “The villagers refuse to accept us. We remain no more than monsters.” Stryker too, voices her feelings on her issues of gender and sexuality in saying, “I can never be a woman like other women, but I could never be a man. Maybe there really is no place for me in all creation” (246). Through this we can see both Frankenstein’s creature and the transgender people are forced to be labeled as “monsters” because of their struggles to fit in with societal and gender norms and as a result, their rage. The creature explains, “my feelings were those of rage and revenge” (121), and Stryker responds to this in saying, “May your rage inform your actions, and your actions transform you as you struggle to transform your world” (254).

In the novel, the creature explains to Frankenstein its initial confusion of its identity saying, “It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being: all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct” (95). The creature further expresses his confusion saying, “I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I?” (110). Through this we can see the many ways in which the creature relates to the transgender community. It is then left for us to wonder why might Frankenstein have created his creature as such? Perhaps it was Victor’s own personal issues with his sexual identity. While the creature was never explicitly said to be a male, as Frankenstein encounters his creation in Mont Blanc, he says, “He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of a man” (92), referring to the creature with male pronouns he/his, but how would we know for sure if the creature is a male, female, or non-binary? There is no way to know for sure, which would then suggest Jessica’s thoughts on the use of neo-pronouns because it differs from what is usual or normal, encouraging them to embrace who transgender people and Frankenstein’s creature are as monsters.

-Serena Ya

through-her-eyes-pic-copy

Jessica Rae Fisher explores transgender community and establishes connection within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. All three, Victor, Fillisa Vistma and the creature were all forms of outcasts in their community due to self-nature. Victor never received the approval of his father for the experiments he wanted to conduct, Vistma was tormented by society and her father as well, which helps connect her with Victor Frankenstein. The creature was always made an outcast and never given a chance to let anyone know him before they ran off by judging him.

Victor demolished his creation of a female creature to give to the male creature because he truly believed that if he were to do so the creatures would crave to have “children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth” (Shelley 144). Victor is envious of the fact that women can conceive children and he cannot. Since he cannot he will not be the main producer which frightens him. This longing Victor has to conceive a child hints at his longing to become a woman.

Victor was more hurt and demonstrated more of an emotional loss about the death of his best friend, Henry than he did his wife Elizabeth, which may suggest that there was more than just a friendship between him and Henry. With the suggestion made, it could lead to the assumption that Victor wanted to become a woman in order to be with Henry as more than a friend. Victor being obsessed with beauty and the isolation of the creature for not being beautiful resembles Susan Stryker’s article because in it she talks about how being a transgender woman made the community an unwelcoming one.

“The transsexual body is an unnatural body… it is the flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than in which it was born” (Stryker 1). This quote is a direct resemblance as to how the creature was created, Victor “collected the instruments of life around [him], [and] that [he] might infuse a spark of being into lifeless thing[s] that lay at [his] feet” (Shelley 59).

-Alina Cantero

According to Susan Stryker and many literary critics before her, Frankenstein’s creation and the transgender body have a lot more in common than at first glance. In fact, they may very well be identical, given that they are both a “product of medical science” and “technological construction” that consists of “flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than that in which it was born” (Stryker 238). Similarly, the two must also faces the constant backlash, social rejection, and name calling that seems to come par for the course for any kind of abnormal being. In this case, transgender people and Frankenstein’s creation often become labeled as monsters, beings who are usually affiliated with unpleasant characteristics. This label as an outcast means that people such as Filisa Vistima are not allowed the same social support and comfort that others have, leading her to commit suicide after believing that she was “a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster” (Stryker 246).

sully

Such derogatory labeling merely seemed as an attempt to remove any kind of affiliation with these isolated groups despite them not being that much different from any normal human being. As Frankenstein’s creation proves, a perceived menace to society like himself can speak, move, learn, and help others just like any other member of the community. Despite people cowering in fear of his anatomically modified appearance, Frankenstein’s creation still maintains his conviction to help others, such as Felix, Agatha, and their father, and “restore happiness to these deserving people” (Shelly 105). Similarly, members of the trans community, such as Jessica Rae Fisher who also shares similar heartfelt rage and sentiments, are just as anyone else and do not deserve the societal rejection from people who believe “people who break or deform their bodies [act] out the sick farce of a deluded, patriarchal approach to nature, alienated from true being” (Stryker 238).

Stryker calls to reclaim the term “monster” not as a hateful and derogatory term, but as a term of acceptance and pride of their anatomical differences to prove that their spirits are just as strong as a natural born body from the womb.  Only “by embracing and accepting them, even piling one on top of one another, we may dispel their ability to harm us” and break down the stereotypes surrounding the transgender body and community. Fisher agrees that “it is time to dull the impact these words have when used against us. It is well worth embracing who we are as monsters” and educate those who may oppress them that despite anatomical differences, even Frankenstein’s monster is just like anyone else.

 

–Jose Ramirez