How to Build a Transsexual Superman: Reading Superman’s Emergence Alongside Histories of Eugenic Science and Gender Confirmation Surgeries
Abstract

Abstract:

Published under DC Comics’ Elseworlds imprint, Superman’s Metropolis is a comic book retelling of the Superman origin story set within the cinematic world of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). The interpolation of the Superman narrative into the film is meant to be an imaginative act that interweaves two alternative universes in order to highlight the underlying themes of identity and corporeal malleability in both texts. This creative exercise, the author argues, is not merely a coincidental interlinking but a purposeful attempt to reveal the very real impact eugenic science (and the discourses it crafted about the body) has had on the character of Superman. This article proposes another alternative version of Superman’s origin story, one that specifically disrupts seemingly stable and normative histories of the hero’s emergence and extends the connections made in Superman’s Metropolis to consider how the eugenics movement’s investment in and development of gender confirmation surgeries (previously known as sex reassignment surgeries) markedly affects the ways in which we understand the emergence of the Superman narrative. While at first a "reading-together" of these histories may seem widely incompatible, the author argues that the narratives of transsexual surgeries (surgical procedures that modify an individual’s primary or secondary sex characteristics) fold neatly into the Superman origin story.


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