Transvestitism and Gender Fluidity

The transformations that occur in the Metamorphoses do not always involve a move between species, or from biotic to abiotic. The switching of genders is also an occasional occurrence, and one that is perhaps best explained by Roman literary fascination with the transgression of social boundaries. Ovid’s explorations of this contravention of societal norms would have been a source of great enthrallment and titillation to his target audience, and likely contributed to the poem’s financial success. The tale of Iphis and Ianthe, for example – a young woman, masquerading as a man, who falls in love with another woman and prays to Isis for deliverance from this unholy state – is fraught with escapist twists and turns, as well as its obvious added frisson of forbidden love. It is worth noting, nonetheless, that its resolution merely represents a return to accepted sexual norms. Does this fascination with boundary transgression still apply within the contemporary context of street art? From the mortified expression of this paste-up’s anthropomorphic subject, it might be reasonable to answer in the affirmative.