Who (the) Girls and Boys Are

Gender Nonconformity in Middle-Grade Fiction

in Girlhood Studies
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In this article I use four middle-grade novels to query the relationship between gendered forms of childhood and gender nonconformity in tweens. For the young characters in these novels, objects and spaces of gender enfranchisement— including gendered forms of childhood—are often out of reach. Using conceptual tools such as the orientation of objects, queer futures, and the transgender gaze, this work examines the ways in which these novels narrate their main characters’ yearning for things that will make their gender identities legible, and how they, as agentic subjects, attempt to take revenge on the rules and structures of gender normativity.