Redefining genderswap fan fiction: A "Sherlock" case study

  • Ann McClellan Plymouth State University
Keywords: Cisgender, Fan Fiction, Gender, Sex, Transgender


Using BBC Sherlock (2010–) fan fiction as case study, this article looks at how fans use and understand such concepts as biological sex and gender in genderswap fan fiction, arguing that the label often minimizes the importance of the physical body in determining gender identity. The label genderswap, most often used to describe stories where characters have become differently sexed, reflects and reinforces common cultural misunderstandings about differences between sex and gender. By teasing out definitions of genderswap, sex, gender, cisgender, and transgender, the article analyzes what genderswap includes and excludes from discussions of gender and identity within contemporary fan fiction, ultimately arguing for a broader conceptual understanding that grounds the genre within contemporary transgender theory.

Author Biography

Ann McClellan, Plymouth State University
Department of English Professor and Chair