The Trans and Non-Binary Hero’s Journey

Quests for Empowerment in Science Fiction and Fantasy

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About the Book

A brave heroine whose quest involves living her true gender. A genderqueer knight who battles the transphobic court to save their prince. Often fearing discovery, the trans hero embarks on adventure, aided by an accepting mentor and other allies, and challenged by transphobic villains and sometimes uncomprehending family members. Ultimately, the trans hero triumphs, finding love, selfhood, and affirmation.
This book adapts Joseph Campbell’s classic pattern of comparative mythology and applies it to trans and non-binary heroes in modern popular media who are traversing multiple worlds. Analyzed are works for the screen such as Steven Universe, The Matrix, Sense8, and Sandman; print materials such as DC and Marvel comics; and television, fantasy books, and graphic novels from trans and non-binary creators worldwide.

About the Author(s)

Valerie Estelle Frankel teaches English at Mission College and San Jose City College. The author of more than 90 popular culture books and more than 100 stories and essays, she lives in Sunnyvale, California.
Dean Leetal was the first out non-binary person in Israel, and organizer of the first group and activist campaign. They are a teaching assistant at Kibbutzim College in Tel Aviv.

Bibliographic Details

Valerie Estelle Frankel and Dean Leetal
Foreword by Kai Cheng Thom
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 225
Bibliographic Info: foreword, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9479-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5259-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Kai Cheng Thom 1
Introduction 3
1. Ordinary World 9
Secret Identity: The Matrix (Film) 9
Trapped at Home: Dreadnought (Novel) 14
Forbidden Desires: Magical Boy (Graphic Novel) 19
The Call to Escape: The Sunbearer Trials (Novel) 23
Refusal Through Fear: Shadowhunters (Series) 27
2. Divine Aid 31
Human Mentor: Meet Cute Diary (Novel) 31
Dragon Mentor: “Battlement of Straw” (Short Story) 35
Otherworldly Mentor: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Film) 42
Talisman: Our Flag Means Death (Television) 45
­Self-Naming: DC’s Nubia and the Amazons (Graphic Novel) 52
Defying the Threshold Guardian: Charmed (Television) 57
Discovering a New World: The Affair of the Mysterious Letter (Novel) 60
3. Safety with Others 65
Haven: Doom Patrol (Television) 65
Found Family: Dead End: Paranormal Park (Television) 70
An Uplifting Interlude: Steven Universe (Television) 73
Finding Allies: Pet (Novel) 76
4. Challenge and Growth 81
Partnering the Double: The Witch King (Novel) 81
Following the Anim Guide: The Prince and the Dressmaker (Graphic Novel) 87
Loving the Anim: A Lady for a Duke (Novel) 91
Mirroring: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Film) 95
5. Battling Society 99
Misgendered: Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston (Novel) 99
Dumped for Being Trans: If I Was Your Girl (Novel) 103
Threatened: Supergirl (Television) 106
Forced to Suppress Legitimate Anger: Seven Suspects (Novel) 112
Punished for Rage: Orange Is the New Black (Television) 117
6. Underworld Descent 123
Descent Within and Without: The Watch (Television) 123
Belly of the Whale: Look Past (Novel) 126
Supreme Ordeal: No Man of Woman Born (Short Stories) 131
Tyrant Parent: Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl (Novel) 133
Shadow as Otherself: Loki (Television) 137
Sacrifice: Sandman (Graphic Novel) 143
Rebirth: Birdverse (Series) 147
Transcendent Treasure: Peter Darling (Novel) 151
7. Return and Acceptance 157
Escape with Allies’ Aid: Sense8 (Television) 157
The Tyrant Crumbles: Sort Of (Television) 163
Public Acknowledgment: Cemetery Boys (Novel) 167
Master of the Two Worlds: Good Omens (Television) 170
Freedom to Live? Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars (Novel) 174
Becoming a Community Elder: Pose (Television) 178
Teaching the Next Generation: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Film) 185
Final Thoughts 191
Glossary 193
Resources 197
Texts for Beginners 197
Anthologies and Collections 197
Children’s Picture Books 198
Children’s Middle Grade Fiction 199
Young Adult/Teen Novels 199
Works Cited 201
Primary Sources 201
Secondary Sources 204
Index 211