I recently attended the slash convention Escapade, and plan to post a few random thoughts on the panels I attended, when I have time to write them up.
Here’s the program book description of “Fueling the Fires of Genderfuckery”:
“When het is slash and slash is het and pronoun rules just no longer apply. Which of our boys is hot as a girl? Which of our girls is hot as a boy? More and more fandoms are producing genderfuck AUs, Uberfics, reincarnations, disguises, momentary illusions, temporary transformations, permanent shapeshifts… It’s all so hot, so let’s share the good stuff.”
I’m going to be a little sketchy on this post. There was something in the hotel, or in the area, which was causing me to have allergy problems, and by Sunday afternoon, my brain was fried.
This was a fascinating panel on all the various ways people play with gender in fanfic. A quick rundown of the various topics covered, either in depth, or in passing: cross dressing, mpreg, the feminization of one partner in a pairing, and more I’m not remembering at the moment.
The focus, however, was on actual gender switching, whether by SF or magical means. This could be an body swap with another person, or it would be having your own body transformed into the opposite sex. All kinds of examples from various fandoms were discussed. Harry Potter fans, in particular, seem to frequently explore this theme.
The moderator used a flipchart to list various fandoms where some kind of gender-switch or cross-dressing was canon. Nearly a dozen were listed - everything from Classic Trek (Kirk – Janice Lester) to Quantum Leap (how many women did Sam Beckett leap into? Oooh, that sounds nasty!) to Deep Space 9 (the trills), to Xena, Warrior Princess (present day reincarnation story) to Due South (Miss Fraser!). People were, in fact, hard-pressed to find any show at all where there hadn’t been at least some kind of genderfuckery in canon.
Fascination with this subject was traced all the way back to Shakespeare - all those cross-dressing comedies!
There was serious discussion about what this kind of fic reveals about our own thoughts and feelings about gender, and our motivations for writing these kinds of fics. A couple of examples were mentioned of stories where the author explicitly examined these assumptions. I mentioned a 1970s era Connie F Classic Trek het story where Kirk, after the experience with Janice Lester, becomes impotent and has to re-examine all of his own concepts of gender and power.
“The Procrustean Petard" by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath was brought up as an early example of the genre. This story was published in the pro book “Star Trek: The New Voyages” # 2, which I believe was published in 1983. I personally don’t remember one thing about that story except that almost all of the classic Trek characters were transformed into the opposite sex.
A number of other stories were mentioned, including one of my favorite Sentinel novels, "B.J. Sandburg" by Gillian.
People also discussed the “pronoun problem” – what do you call your guy when he’s in a woman’s body anyway?
I wish I could remember more! Anyone else?