Some of you may remember Animorphs, a series which was all fun animal transformations on the surface and all war crimes and child soldiers when you got deeper. It’s been one of my favorite series my whole life, and so I periodically search AO3 and the trash fire that is FF.net for new fanfic, hoping that someone will someday write me the fix-it fic of my dreams. Though I haven’t yet found that, I have discovered that as our civil rights dialogue has advanced, particularly online, more and more fanfiction writers have been applying it to their fanfic. And Animorphs, which was about a multicultural and multiethnic group of kids working together to save humankind from alien invaders, is a particularly meaningful story to which to apply some of this social justice.
When Animorphs was written in the late 90s, Western society’s understanding of trans issues was fairly low (or nonexistent). Now, though, there are more trans people out in the public eye than ever, and subsequently, people are slowly starting to believe that there can and should be trans characters in fiction as well. It’s a long road to more actual canon representation, but in the meantime, no one can stop anyone from having all the trans headcanons they want. Though today’s fanfic is short, it’s a fantastic example of what I’m talking about.
Trigger warning for body dysmorphia and internalized transphobia after the jump.
Everybody wants to be a cat—but do they really? Animal transformations are a staple of our pop culture, from mega hits like Harry Potter to lesser-known but still awesome books like Holly Black’s The Curse Workers. We love seeing stories where the protagonists can turn into animals and hide from or attack their enemies. However, some of these properties gloss over the actual “transformation” part of an animal transformation, and I think the way the animal transformation is handled can add a lot to a story.
When I was a kid, my elementary school took part in this “encourage kids to read” program—most likely the Scholastic Reading Club—that was also probably a ploy for people to buy more books from Scholastic. But every month or so, our teacher would pass out the Scholastic reading catalogs, and my brother and I quickly latched onto one series: Animorphs.
Animorphs was a book series that had a new book out every couple of months, making it more like a TV show than other book series where you’d have to wait at least a year for the next installment. This series definitely got the most money from us—I don’t think we’d discovered the existence of the library yet. Every time we saw this in the catalog, we’d go home and clamor for our parents to pay for it, and this worked until we had roughly half of the fifty-four book series, at which point my parents forcibly introduced us to the library. But it was too late. We were hooked.