A new comic created by young trans people participating in arts programs and creative workshops with UK-based Gendered Intelligence debuted this month at The Wellcome Collection in London and online at WellcomeCollection.org as part of the museum’s Institute of Sexology exhibit.
The group, ages 13-19, wrote a Transvengers superhero story with the trans heroes traveling through time to interview and challenge notable psychologists and sexologists on topics of sex and gender: think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but with the paradigm of heteronormativity as the antagonist and with cameos from Marie Stopes, Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, and Magnus Hirschfeld providing various perspectives on some of the (mostly unenlightened) ideas that helped shape it.
It’s the group’s response to some of the themes and personalities in the exhibition, informed by their own experiences as young trans people. The aim was to create a lighted hearted response to some really complicated ideas, in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy.
The group worked with artist Jason Barker to create the artwork and interviewed Dr Jana Funke as part of their research. Each person designed their own Transvengers character who travels back in time to challenge key sexologists and their ideas – many of which continue to shape society’s thinking about sex and gender today.
The museum’s Institute of Sexology exhibit explores the work of each of the sexologists featured in the webcomic, as well as the work of Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Mead, William Masters, and Virginia Johnson, among others, presented in conjunction with a Sexology Season collaboration with other museums across the UK.
Here’s more on the exhibit, via WellcomeCollection.org:
‘The Institute of Sexology’ is a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts. Undress your mind and join us to investigate human sexuality at ‘The Institute’, the first of our longer exhibitions. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, this is the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex.
From Alfred Kinsey’s complex questionnaires to the contemporary National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), ‘The Institute of Sexology’ investigates how the practice of sex research has shaped our ever-evolving attitudes towards sexual behaviour and identity. Moving between pathologies of perversion and contested ideas of normality, it shows how sex has been observed, analysed and questioned from the late 19th century to the present day.