Transnormativity and Trans(gender)nationalism through Transmasculine representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Fandom – Elyan Stenel on Gender And Sexuality Studies Blog

Posted on February 17, 2022

Transgender characters in mainstream films and TV series are, despite some progress, still rare and often subject to stereotyping. Regularly portrayed by cisgender (non-trans) actors wearing transness like a costume, they suffer the recurrence of evil or tragic trans characters, which promulgates a narrative influencing both trans and cisgender people’s perception of transness.

Transmen and transwomen face equally harmful but, in some aspects, very different issues in regard to representation in the media. Where transwomen are hyper-visible as stereotyped sexualized cisgender fantasies, transmen are invisible and infantilized. As a trans man, I chose to concentrate on the issues faced by transmen and transmasculine people.

Approaching the subject of transgender male identity through the scope of the interpretation of transmasculine characters in mainstream media productions by fans and the portrayal of transmasculinity in fandom, I looked at fanarts portraying a trans-interpretation of Peter Parker (Spider-man) from the Marvel Cinematic universe, and considered the significance of these interpretations along with their place within mainstream transmasculine representations.


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Elyan Stenel completed a Master in English Studies at the Université de Paris in 2021 and is currently working on applications to PhD programs to continue his research. His research focus is queer and transgender identities viewed through the lens of popular culture and fandom. He can be contacted at: es.stenel[@]


About Gender And Sexuality Studies Blog :

Genres et sexualités is the blog of the research group Gender and Sexuality Studies of the LARCA Research Unit for the Study of English-Speaking Countries and Cultures (UMR#8225 Université de Paris – CNRS)


Questions of gender and sexuality hold a prominent place in public, political and cultural debates today. Longstanding struggles for the recognition of social construction of gender and sexual identities have shaped them, as societies gradually opened to the recognition of the broad spectrum of genders and sexualities. They are still the subject of controversial ideological, social and cultural battles, where differences in societal approach are also felt, between France and the English-speaking countries, between the geopolitical West and non-West, the global North and South. These large perimeters also raise questions of political representations, sometimes steeped in stereotypes, which it is important to question, and where queer frames also come into play.

Our intention here is to share our discussions in seminars, classes and workshops so as to encourage discussion with visitors – students, researchers, civil society and cultural actors – on issues of gender and sexuality. As specialists of the English-speaking world and in cultural and academic approaches that question our French take on these issues, we wish to participate in the debates that these questions raise. Our fields are varied – history, social history, material culture, literature, visual arts, cinema, new media, popular culture – as are our objects. We aim to assess the expansive academic and non-academic terrains in which these questions resonate.

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