One thing I’m curious about was whether there were any strong reactions to the boy Tip turning out to be Ozma under an enchantment when The Marvelous Land of Oz first came out. It just seems like there’s a considerable amount of fuss over transsexuals nowadays, with reactionary viewers refusing to watch Dancing with the Stars because Chaz Bono was on it, or Bill O’Reilly claiming that a sex change would be too difficult to explain to kids. Actually, Bill, I think it’s probably easier to explain to kids than to cranky old men like you. And really, if your kid knows the Oz books, isn’t all you have to say that it’s like what happened with Ozma? Apparently nobody thought THAT was too complicated for the children.
Mind you, it might be relevant that, back when L. Frank Baum wrote the book in question, a person changing gender was just as much part of the realm of pure fantasy as a belt that grants wishes. Baum wrote Land with the theater in mind, and Ozma’s gender switch was most likely a joke on how it was typical at the time for women to play boys on the stage. It’s not like this was really anything new, either. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night had a girl disguised as a boy, and that was in a time when men played all the roles. This isn’t exactly a girl being turned into a boy, but it shows that gender-bending is an old theatrical tradition. Now that sex changes are medically possible, it seems that the traditional gender roles crowd has adopted the idea that they’re wrong for some reason, while this prejudice might not have been as pronounced in Baum’s time. Or were there objections to the concept even back in the early nineteenth century? I can’t say I’ve heard of any, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist.
Picture by Lullades