The Transvengers: Sexologists

3 November 2014

A group of young trans people from Gendered Intelligence worked with an artist to produce The Transvengers: a web comic that will feature in the forthcoming Institute of Sexology exhibition at Wellcome Collection. In this series, Jason Barker, the artist in question, writes about his experience of working with the group, starting with how the group went about researching some of the sexologists featured in the exhibition.

When we began this project, none of us knew very much about sexology, so that was a very good place to start. We found out who the main sexologists who will feature in the exhibition were and did some research. It seems to have been a common pattern for sexologists to have begun their careers as scientists.

Kinsey, for instance, collected thousands of different types of wasp, fascinated by the seemingly endless variety found in nature. When it comes to human sexuality and gender expression, however, our society has always tried to suppress natural variation. We were interested in how the sexologists explained people who were different to what is considered “normal” and noted how many of their ideas still have an impact on us as trans people today.

What would it be like if the sexologists of the past were confronted by a group of young trans people of the 21st century? In order to write our story, we needed to know what responses the sexologists would give to our questions. We haven’t perfected time travel just yet but did have the next best thing: Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter.

Jana played the parts of the sexologists for us, drawing on her expert knowledge (and utilising her accent to give a great Freud impression) to answer our questions. The transcript of these conversations formed the basis of our script.

Jason is an illustrator, animator and film maker. Look out for the rest of his posts about the project.

The comic will be available to read online from 20 November.