Tag Archive: transphobia

Transgender Empowerment

Esther Quintanilla

Gender identity and gender ambiguity seem to be a major complication in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Victor Frankenstein seems to be in conflict with his identity and has thrown his issues onto the creature that he animates at the beginning of the novel. While we identified in class that Victor may or may not have the desire to transition into a woman (i.e. his “womb envy”, his desire to create life, his lack of love toward his wife), the question of the creature’s gender has not been thoroughly discussed. We briefly talked about how the creature assumes that he is male due to his observation of the power that men hold in the world around him but, there is ambiguity in the biological gender of the creature. He is made in the image of a beautiful being, modeled after presumably Victor’s mother, but is quickly tossed to the side when he does not fulfill the desire that Victor is trying to achieve, that is to give life to something beautiful. The gender of the creature is not disclosed, and it is up to him alone to decide what he chooses to identify with.

Jessica Rae Fisher does an excellent job in her essay I Am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action in explaining the misconceptions and the struggles that transgender individuals face on a daily basis. As a trans woman, she discusses the many troubles that she, along with her community, has suffered. From slurs to complete ignorance being spread about her identity, she still maintains a hopeful outlook and pushes her community to take authority over those who are transphobic and ignorant. Fisher calls out for her community to reclaim the words of hatred, such as “monster”, “tranny”, “Frankenstein”, etc. that are spewed upon them and to take power over the society of hatred.

Fisher’s article was and is inspiring to the trans community. Her words of encouragement will allow for the cycle of ignorance to stop and for more knowledge about transgender issues to be brought to light.

By: Sandra Tzoc


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.