This essay explores Ann Bannon’s lesbian pulp series “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles” through the lens of trans studies, placing her eponymous hero in conversation with the inversion rhetoric of sexological discourse and the transgender pulp novels that circulated alongside Bannon’s texts in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the prominence of Beebo’s masculine identification, and the fact that Bannon draws heavily from Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness—now widely read as a transgender text—Beebo has yet to be read as a character that resonates within both the trans and the lesbian literary canons. Revisioning Beebo as a transmasculine character transforms our understanding of an unfolding trans-gender literary tradition, offering a bridge between Hall’s Stephen Gordon and later twentieth-century articulations of transmasculine identity and embodiment. Further, the essay suggests that Bannon’s series provides a vital intervention in the “case study” framing that dominated both transgender pulp novels and The Well by offering a vision of trans experience that, presented in the romance genre, exists outside medical authority. If we broaden the context for studying Beebo to include other contemporary trans literary genealogies, Bannon’s work becomes integral to understanding the pulp genre’s treatment of transgender themes and the reach of transgender plots and possibilities at midcentury.
“A Boy Inside It”: Beebo Brinker and the Transmasculine Narratives of Ann Bannon’s Lesbian Pulp
Melina Alice Moore is a doctoral candidate in English at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she is completing a dissertation on representations of queer and trans subjects in American mass-marketed paperbacks and subscription-based periodicals of the 1950s and 1960s.
Melina Alice Moore; “A Boy Inside It”: Beebo Brinker and the Transmasculine Narratives of Ann Bannon’s Lesbian Pulp. GLQ 1 October 2019; 25 (4): 569–598. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-7767781
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