Transbigotry Part 1: Glee’s Kurt is not Cis

I am writing this in parts, because it is getting very, very long and nobody will read it. (please do)

And now, I turn to Glee. Very, very gay Glee. You know, I’m that person who all my friends say is the gayest person they know. I’m super-gay. I love everything gay. So obviously, I’m not only a huge Glee fan but also a Klaine shipper. The character who really makes my heart break is Kurt.

I’ve already written about accusations of stereotyping when it comes to the character of Kurt Hummel. As I concluded, I don’t think he’s just a stereotype. I think the character himself is exceptionally brave. I know I’m not alone when I look to the character of Kurt and wonder what my teen years would have been like if I’d been brave enough to be myself. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have made it through. But I’m nowhere near as brave as Kurt is. But still, at 17ish (I think they’re leaving ages intentionally ambiguous, but he had a car in season 1, so at least 17), nobody knows their full self.

Kurt in a skirtWhat the writers of Glee haven’t really addressed is Kurt’s gender identity. I know this is a bit controversial but I really believe he is not cisgender. I mean, just watch him. He identifies with the girls. And not because he’s afraid of the guys, but because he has more in common with the girls. He fights his teacher as cissexism is encouraged through boy vs girl competitions. As a child, we’re told he identified with Maria from The Sound of Music, and not Captain Von Trapp.

He’s undoubtedly effeminate. In “Sexy” (some of) his attempts at dancing sexy would have succeeded had he been girl, but shaking a male chest rarely produces the same effect. His father mentions him looking for specifically female clothing as a child. I’m not saying the character of Kurt is transgender, but there is a place between transgender and cisgender and you’ll find a lot of us sitting here wondering how to explain it.

I’m also not saying the character of Kurt is not transgender.

Kurt has twice made comments about wearing female clothing.

In the Rocky Horror Picture Show episode (Season 2, Episode 5), Mr Schuester assumes that Kurt will be happy to play transvestite character Dr. Frank-n-Furter and Kurt objects. Mike ends up taking the part, but when his parents block his participation, the part ultimately goes to Mercedes.

Also in the following episode, when Artie said “You in a sequin gown and feather boa is exactly what they’d expect.” Kurt replies, “Who said anything about a gown?” and looked annoyed. There was, in fact, no gown in Kurt’s well-presented plans.

In Kurt’s mind there must be a very clear line between the stylish-but-effeminate clothes he wears and what are actually women’s clothing (I’m almost certain he’s wearing a skirt in the Brittney episode). He could just be very sure his gender identity doesn’t translate out that far. He could also be 17 years old and terrified.

I know the character is written, acted and meant to be gay. I am assuming that these trans cues are unintentional. I expect I’m not the first to notice them either.

I would love to be able to ask the writers or the actor where they think Kurt draws the line. What do you think?

Next up… Transbigotry and The Rocky Horror Picture Show Episode…

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4 thoughts on “Transbigotry Part 1: Glee’s Kurt is not Cis

  1. “I am assuming that these trans queues are unintentional.”

    I think you might mean “cues” unless they are queueing for something.

    Great article, though!

  2. That’s an interesting perspective. I hadn’t really thought about Kurt not being cis before.

    Maybe it vaguely occurred to me when he was trying to work on the girl’s team, but I didn’t really focus on it.

    Like you said, there is more than transgender and cisgender. He could be a genderqueer, or something in a similar vein.

    Or, he could be cis and just not give a hoot about gender roles. 🙂

  3. Pingback: What Would Kurt and Mercedes Do « Deconstructing Glee

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