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Is this book transphobic?

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Leigh Honestly, If I was looking to recommend a book featuring a trans character I would not pick this one. No one in this book treats the main character as anything beyond a sexual curiosity or freak. There is a lot of talk about anatomy that most within the trans community are extremely tired of going over again and again. The trans character's love interest uses Ry's anatomy to defend his heterosexuality multiple times. On top of all that, there is a graphic and gratuitous sexual assault scene.

I don't have a barometer for gauging definitively if this book is transphobic or not, but I imagine that this book will age extremely poorly.
Will Hansen Absolutely. Leigh's comments hit the nail on the head exactly. I am so tired of cis writers using trans characters to make their work feel cutting edge or modern, and hoping to get away with it by writing shit like 'but this is just ONE experience not all trans experience :)'. Yes, all trans people experience gender differently, and yes, there are lots of people who I'm sure feel similarly about their gender as Ry does. But Ry's gender is never honoured - Ry is continually misgendered, assaulted, made to feel freakish, and is never given any autonomy whatsoever by Winterson. As a trans person, it made me feel beyond uncomfortable, angry and actually kinda sick - something I don't say lightly. It is clear that she knows very little about trans people beyond what she reads in tabloids, and sees being trans as some new freaky human progress.
Meg (queer_book_recs) No, I don't think it's transphobic. There definitely is transphobia from other characters towards Ry, and I think Ry has a more fluid relationship with his body and gender and sex than other trans people might (this is my opinion based on other books I've read with trans characters, so I could be wrong about this). At one point in the book Ry says something about not speaking for all trans people and I think readers should take that to heart.
K Yes. She treats the trans character as an intellectual curiosity and fills the novel with tropes about trans bodies. While it's certainly not the most transphobic treatment I've ever read by any stretch, it won't age well.
dez no, i think it is trans-positive (insofar as it explores trans identity openly and candidly)
Ronan This depends upon your understanding of both transphobia and of the story, which is as much an allegory as the original Frankenstein's Monster.

The term transphobia is traditionally defined as an irrational fear or hatred of, or an emotional disgust toward individuals who do not conform to society's gender expectations (Hill & Willoughby, 2005). The book does not seem to me to express or seek to propagate any of these things. Perhaps you might illustrate your question with some examples that made you ask the question.

The book assembles a cast of characters whose roles are as much symbolic as personal. Ada Lace, who defied gender norms by becoming a mathematician and inventing the first programming language in the history of science is paralleled by Ry, whose deliberate realigning of their body to fit their soul, so to speak, does not simply address transgender issues but also the society in which body altering surgery performed on women is hugely profitable. We are not asked to consider Ry as a contemporary transgender person but to consider the social, ethical, cultural and scientific forces in which the characters play out their lives.

That makes it sound as if it's a dull but worthy book. In fact, it's one of the funniest pieces of observation I've read in a long while. YMMV.
Nebulosus There is transphobia in the book, some of it violent. That is not the same thing as the book itself or the author being transphobic. I am a trans/genderqueer person, & I found the trans character to be very relatable.
Steven Nope. I spend way too much time arguing with transphobes and this is not it. Yes there are many transphobic people in the book, but they are not treated as correct in any way.
♡ calliope ♡ No! This book is not transphobic in any way!!!
MS No, there isn't anything even remotely transphobic about it, on the contrary. I think that the character of Ry is a beautiful hommage to Mary S.
Larry No.
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