Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 21–31 | Cite as

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

  • Marty FinkEmail author


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.


Trans Queer Gender Transition Gatekeeping 



I would like to thank Rebecca Garden and William Spurlin for all their editorial support and mentorship. I would also like to thank the editors at JOMH and all of the anonymous reviewers for their insights and feedback. This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada

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