Imagining Transgender: Reinscriptions of Normativity in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica and Jackie Kay’s Trumpet

Marcus Hartner

Bielefeld University


Over the past years the portrayal of transgender images and issues has become part of Anglo-American mainstream literature and film. Though this development, at first sight, seems to be a sign for a growing acceptance of transsexuality and -identity among audiences and readerships, portrayals of transsexual characters still often seem to employ various strategies of ‘normalization’, i.e. they attempt to relocate those characters and their bodies within traditional binary gender paradigms in order to render the characters’ ‘queerness’ acceptable for a mainstream audience. My paper will analyse the portrayal of gender and identity in Duncan Tucker’s road movie Transamerica (2005) and Jackie Kays award winning novel Trumpet (1998). Following Miriam Frotscher I will suggest that mainstream films and texts still seem to be doubtful about their audiences’ readiness “to question their binary frameworks of knowledge regarding to sex and gender”. In particular, I will argue that a common strategy for realigning trans characters into a hetero-normative gender framework draws on the narrative employment of romantic notions of love and family.

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