Learning to See

Transgender Self-Determination and Unmarked Objectivity in April Daniel’s Dreadnought

  • Jamiee Cook University of California, Santa Barbara
Keywords: transgender, YA SF, Haraway, bildungsroman, passing, deadnaming, feminism, trans-inclusive feminism, trans-exclusionary radical feminism, superhero, gender transition


Young adult [YA] science fiction has seen a significant rise in LGBTQ+ storylines in the last several years, but despite sci-fi’s history inventive gender systems, transgender storylines remain underrepresented. This paper considers the role of unmarked objectivity, a term derived from Donna Haraway’s 1988 essay “Situated Knowledges,” in facilitating transgender marginalization through a reading of April Daniel’s 2017 YA superhero bildungsroman Dreadnought. Through an analysis of the role of gender “passing” and deadnaming, as well as attention to biological essentializing and trans-exclusionary radical feminism’s investment in unmarked objectivity, this paper asserts the potential of transgender YA science fiction to upend notions of cisgender supremacy and validate transgender coming-of-age experiences.