Choir Boy: Trans Vocal Performance and the De-Pathologization of Transition.


Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON, M5B 2K3, Canada. [Email]


This paper will examine Choir Boy (2005), a trans coming-of-age novel by Charlie Anders, to disrupt historically rooted medical narratives of gender transition. Through a disability studies lens, this paper locates vocal performance as a means of speaking back to gatekeeping practices held in place by medical authorities since the inception of transsexuality as a classificatory category. Offering imaginative alternatives to "wrong body" diagnostics, this analysis places cultural texts in conversation with disability theory to reframe the trans self as a singing body that cannot be reduced to normalizing biomedical practices. Choir Boy frames vocal performance as a mode of gender expression and as a survival strategy against violence. The trans counter-narratives offered by Anders resist the medicalization of trans bodies and the classification of some bodies as not "trans enough" to qualify for transition. Choir Boy locates vocal performance and not binary gender identification as impetus for transition, thereby advocating for trans self-determination over medical access.