Re-writing the script: representations of transgender creativity in contemporary young adult fiction and television

Kate Norbury

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The transgender, gender-atypical or intersex protagonist challenges normative assumptions and expectations about gender, identity and sexuality. This article argues that contemporary transgender-themed young adult fiction and television uses the theme of creativity or the creative achievement script to override previously negative representations of adolescent transgender subjectivities. I consider three English-language novels and one television series for young adults and use script theory to analyse these four texts. Cris Beam’s I Am J (2011) and Kirstin Cronn-Mills’ Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (2012), both originally published in the United States, depict female to male transitions. Alyssa Brugman’s Alex As Well (2013), originally published in Australia, foregrounds the experience of an intersex teenager, Alex, raised as a boy, but who, at the age of fourteen, decides she is female. Glee introduced the transgender character Unique in 2012, and in 2014 she continued to be a central member of the New Directions choir. The Swedish graphic novel, Elias Ericson’s Åror (Oars, 2013), includes two transgender characters who enact the creative achievement script and fall in love with each other. Ericson’s graphic novel goes further than the English-language texts to date. Collectively, these transgender, gender-atypical or intersex protagonists and central characters assert their creativity and individual agency. The transgender character’s particular creativity ultimately secures a positive sense of self. This more recent selection of texts which date from 2011 validate young adult transgender experience and model diversity and acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalBarnboken - tidskrift för barnlitteraturforskning
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • transgender
  • creativity
  • young adult fiction
  • television
  • Glee
  • script theory


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