Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Valerie Rohy


This thesis explores how recent novels are able to expand representations of transgender experiences and promote identification with these characters and their experiences, even if the reader is not trans themself. It begins by delving into a brief history of transgender narrative and the problems associated with these narratives having been primarily in the form of memoir. It then examines how Rose Tremain’s Sacred Country, despite being one of the first instances of a fictional narrative focused on a transgender man, reflects similarly problematic narrative characteristics to those found in memoir. Proposing a concept of trans-relational reading, which promotes identifications with the characters through their own felt embodiment, this project will look closely at four recent novels that center characters who are trans men. The focus is first on novels that are based on narratives already in the historical or literary archive. Austin Chant’s Peter Darling reimagines a transgender Peter Pan’s return to Neverland as a young adult and follows Peter as he navigates his relationship to his body and his understanding of masculinity. Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox presents Jack Sheppard, a historical thief and jailbreaker in 18th century London, as a trans man who also must grapple with his physical body, his transness, and the impact that these have on his ability to find intimacy with his partner. This section argues that retold narratives are able to provide readers with a sense of familiarity with which they can approach the story, while trans-relational readings allow these readers to better understand these characters and their transness within the context of these narratives. Additionally, retold narratives work to fill in the absence of transgender people and experiences within the literary and historical archives. The second section focuses on novels that are not based on any historical or literary precedent, but rather completely original narratives. It begins by looking Joss Lake’s Future Feeling, which features three trans men as they each deal with their relationships to their transness, as well as each other, and reflects on the fluidity of transgender sexuality and desire. This section then looks at Coffee Boy, another novel by Austin Chant, which features a trans man who has not undergone any medical transitioning as he navigates his transness in conjunction with the way he is perceived. Because the stories in this section are original, rather than retellings, they are not obligated to maintain any connection to a narrative precedent, allowing them to have a wider range of opportunities with which to represent trans experiences and trans-relationally connect with readers. This project concludes by noting that although each of these novels are written by trans authors whose identities may inform the narratives, they are not tied to any one person’s individual experience. Instead, fictional representations of trans men are able to provide new representations of trans experiences without the pressure from publishers to structure the narrative in a certain way in order to be seen as authentic.



Number of Pages

79 p.