The Invisible Presence of Trans- Bodies: Unpacking Regimes of Visibility and Visuality Through Tom Cho’s Look Who’s Morphing
Baumkel, Max Rose
This thesis argues that the ways in which trans-ness functions within telemediated spaces disrupts the conventions of new media studies that would assert reality is established primarily through visual engagement. In Tom Cho’s collection of short stories, Look Who’s Morphing, the reader is confronted with characters and situations that are transgender, transcultural, and transhuman. By presenting characters who embody multiple forms of trans-ness and who cross the boundaries between fictional stories, play with the uneasy distinction between narrative self and self in the world, and move between the biological and technological, Cho pushes the reader to confront the body’s mutability. Given the ways in which the characters in Cho’s work destabilize our realities, I argue that they work as well against commonly held assumptions about bodily authenticity and integrity. I suggest finally that due to the persistent shifts, crosses, and changes that Cho’s characters undergo both within and between stories, we are forced to imagine these characters without reference to regimes of visibility.