“Pronouns are problematic”:

The Trans* Body and Gender Theory; Or, Revisiting the Neo-Victorian Wo/Man


  • Claire O’Callaghan Loughborough University


Judith Butler, embodiment, gender, gender fluidity, Misfortune, queer, Wesley Stace, trans*, transgender, trans* studies


This article reads the representation of trans* subjectivity in Wesley Stace’s Misfortune (2005) and considers its implications for neo-Victorian studies. My argument is twofold. Firstly, I contend that Stace’s novel restages responses from trans* studies to Judith Butler’s early theorising in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Woman (1990) on issues of gender and embodiment, something also explored by Butler in Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993). Secondly, I propose that, by reading Misfortune more fully through a trans* studies lens, Stace’s novel elucidates greater insight into trans* identity than hitherto has been recognised. In situating these points side-by-side, I consider the ways that neo-Victorian studies could engage more widely with the nuances of debates relating to – and issues arising from – gender theories, and consider how this flourishing genre engages more widely with LGBTQIA+ politics than is often explored.