It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Sister!

| Aug 24, 2020
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What’s in a name? That famous question was put in Juliet’s mouth by William Shakespeare. Names mean a lot to transgender people. I hope some of you reading this might be moved to share your own stories of how you chose your name. This is how I selected mine.

I’ll be sixty-one on my next birthday; this story probably dates back about fifty years. I was a committed comic book reader in my youth and had a special love for the DC superhero titles—Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern. My parents made flea markets and garage sales a weekend ritual. I didn’t mind being dragged along, as I was always allowed to buy reading material of some kind.

One pleasant afternoon I came across a large box of comics at an inexpensive price at a flea market. I took the box home and pulled a comic from the pile. It was an 80 Page Giant from 1964, featuring “Superman’s Greatest Imaginary Adventures.”

When I reached the midpoint of the book, I turned the page, and my life changed forever. For I had discovered the story “Claire Kent, Alias Super-Sister!” Always with an exclamation point. Superhero books once were very big on exclamation points.

The first thing that caught my attention was the splash panel drawing. Here was Superboy, but with long hair, a heart-shaped face with a broad smile, a visible bosom, and what might be called child-bearing hips. She was standing over the stove, hands flying, and telling Ma Kent, “You just rest, Mom! I’ll have supper cooked in a jiffy!” Ma Kent answers: “Land sakes, Super-Sister! Since you’ve been around you’ve done all my chores for me! It’s wonderful to have a super daughter for a change, instead of a super son!”

Could it be true? Superboy? A girl? And happy about it? Of course, I had to race through the eight pages.

As was so often the case, the content of the splash panel didn’t match the contents of the story. Superboy did indeed become a girl, but she wasn’t happy about it at all. The transformation came at the hands of Shar-La, an alien piloting, yes, a flying saucer. During Superboy’s afternoon patrol, he encountered the craft, and the sight of a flying boy startled her. Her spacecraft goes plunging toward earth, and Superboy rescues her, and since she’s a telepath, she “hears” Superboy’s thoughts about women drivers. (Yes, the whole story is dipping in 1960s sexism.)

Shar-La bathes Superboy in the rays from the jewel on the ring she wears as he flies off. He discovers his transformation a short time later when he spots his altered form in the reflection on a lake below. Panicked, he discovers he has no way to trace Shar-La, so returns home. Ma Kent pronounces herself “delighted” and rushes to the story to buy the rechristened Claire a new wardrobe.

Claire. Claire Kent. Right at that moment, I knew that I would be Claire Hall someday. There was something totally feminine and graceful about the name, and it wasn’t common, yet it wasn’t unfamiliar to people either. It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned that Claire is a name of French origin and means “clear” or “bright.”

Of course, my favorite scenes in the story involved Claire, in a white blouse and red-checkered skirt walking to Lana Lang’s house to bake a cake with her and “listen to dreamy records.” But the story revolved around the new Super-Sister encountering sexism and realizing she needed to treat women more kindly. Feminism, 1960s DC comics style. And it the end, it turns out the transformation didn’t actually happen . . . it was a “mental vision” created by the ring.

Kal-El may not have wanted to be Claire, but I sure did. Almost half a century later, when It finally happened, I felt a clarity and brightness that my life had lacked until that moment.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

Claire H.

About the Author ()

Claire Hall was born and grew up in a large city on the left coast and has spent most of her adult years in a beautiful small coastal community where she's now an elected official in local government after spending many years as a newspaper and radio reporter. In her space time she loves reading, writing fiction (her first novel was published by a regional press a couple of years ago), watching classic Hollywood movies, and walking.

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