Re: RARA-AVIS: transgender (was Noir Manifesto)

From: Ivan Van Laningham (
Date: 31 Oct 2005

Hi All-- wrote:
> This raises a question -- are there any transgender protagonists (not
> just walk-ons) in noir or hardboiled lit? I'm aware of plenty of gay
> and lesbian (I've often wondered why lesbian has to be added -- isn't
> gay gender neutral?) protagonists, but no transgendered. I bet a pretty
> interesting book could be done from such an outsider perspective.

I haven't read them, but T.C. Van Adler has two books with Father Brocard Curtis and Zinka Pavlic that feature an MTF lesbian (Pavlic). The books are _St. Agatha's Breast_ (2001) and _The Evil that Boys Do_
(2003). My understanding is that they're humorous ("an over-the-top, often macabre sense of humor"), so they might not come under either noir or hardboiled rubrics, but they're as close as you're going to get. Jenny Roberts, an MTF author, has written three books featuring Cameron McGill, a lesbian protagonist: _Needlepoint_ (2000), _Breaking Point_
(2001) and _Dead Reckoning_ (2005). They are semi-hardboiled.

"Outsider perspectives" can be found in narratives of transsexuals such as _She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders_ by Jennifer Finney Boylan;
_The Last Time I Wore a Dress_, by Daphne (now Dylan) Scholinski; and
_Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods - My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine_, by _Noelle Howey_. It's entirely possible that the outsider experience may be so overwhelming to those undergoing it that there is neither need nor compulsion to translate it into the world of noir or hardboiled crime fiction.

As far as the word "lesbian" goes, while "gay" does indeed refer to homosexuals in general, the more common usage now is for it to refer to gay men. In lesbian crime fiction from the UK, however, there is more usage of "gay" to mean "gay men and lesbians" (see Val McDermid's Lindsey Gordon series especially). And while categories such as "gay,"
"lesbian," "transsexual" and "bisexual" (among others) may be problematic for many reasons, those concerned would seem to prefer to have a category to put themselves in, in the interests of group solidarity (which again, might be problematic). Certainly heteronormative society wants to put "deviants" (_highly_ problematic!) into neat little boxes, and the more of them the better, usually for oppressive purposes.

Marilyn Frye has an excellent essay on the word "lesbian"; I don't have the exact reference right now, but if there is interest I can post the title and the book of hers it's in. Frye may not be the most transparent of authors, but her essays are always thought-provoking and rewarding, and _I_ like her style.

Metta, Ivan
---------------------------------------------- Ivan Van Laningham God N Locomotive Works Army Signal Corps: Cu Chi, Class of '70 Author: Teach Yourself Python in 24 Hours

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Get fast access to your favorite Yahoo! Groups. Make Yahoo! your home page

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 31 Oct 2005 EST