Pride Reads 2024: “Transmuted” by Eve Harms

Transmuted by Eve Harms
Transmuted by Eve Harms

Body horror and monsters resonate with most trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people for its connection to gender dysphoria. A trans or genderqueer person could feel uncomfortable with their body and wish for a suitable replacement. In Eve Harms’s Transmuted (2021), however, this desire leads to a nightmare instead.

My parents let me watch the 1979 film Alien when I was six. Thus began my fascination with monsters. During middle school, my body image unsettled me. Puberty made it worse. I avoided mirrors, wore oversized sweaters and shirts, and struggled with my budding attraction to girls (note that this was the late ’90s/early 2000s, so most schools weren’t as supportive of queer and trans kids as today). I imagined inhabiting another body, a monstrous one like the xenomorph. This empowering idea led to me writing a plethora of stories about monsters.

I wouldn’t understand my passion for the monstrous until my early 30s. I came out to myself and discovered works by trans and genderqueer creators involving monstrosity and the desire and or disgust for our bodies. One of those works is Transmuted by Eve Harms, a narrative surrounding a trans woman whose longing for a woman’s body morphs into something she hadn’t signed up for.

Transmuted introduces Isa, a trans woman and popular online game streamer. Her gender dysphoria forces her to hide her appearance online using a virtual avatar. Even with access to hormone replacement therapy HRT, Isa wants facial feminization surgery to look and feel like a woman. After earning enough money from an online fundraiser, her hopes of finally getting gender affirming surgery soars. But instead, she gives it to her terminally ill father, with whom she had a strained relationship, to cover treatment costs.

Distraught, Isa then stumbles onto an Instagram ad about Dr. Henry S. Skurm’s call for trans women to a free feminization treatment trial. Despite the questionable deal, Isa answers the ad, and Dr. Skurm’s experiment gives her the body and face she wants. She can finally weave her way through public spaces as herself and ask her crush, a woman named Rayna, out.

However, Isa suddenly experiences unexpected changes: she grows taller, begins losing her hair, and notices unusual features like elfin ears. As her mutations accelerate, she must find out why she’s transforming into a monster before she can’t change back.

Eve Harms’s novel chills me for all the right reasons. There’s the excitement of getting the body you want, to feel like yourself, but there’s also the fear of the changes not matching your expectations. Isa believes that the results of Dr. Skurm’s treatment have granted her her grandest desire, only to realize that it’s too good to be true (in a terrifying way).

The author also explores the euphoria and dreadness of trans bodies in clever and humorous ways. Isa struggles with how people, trans or not, argue how a trans woman should look and feel about her body regardless of whether she’s transitioning. She allows a doctor with ulterior motives to mold her face and body to her satisfaction, although the procedure turns out to be a bait and switch. As a trans person, I fear a physical transition going wrong for me. I’m frightened that when I start to medically transition I wouldn’t get the body I expected.

Transmuted provides an entertaining ride of a horror comedy while conveying the anxieties and expectations that trans people have with their bodies.

Transmuted is available from Unnerving and is part of the Rewind or Die series. An audio book version (narrated by Arden Hughes) is available as well.

Check out the author’s website here.

You can read more Pride Reads reviews on The Geekiary here.

Also, please read and support works by queer and trans creators (indie and traditional), not just in June.

Author: Bradda M.

Bradda M. currently lives in Virginia. He teaches ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) at a public school and spends his free time reading and watching movies each night with his partner. For The Geekiary, he writes about webcomics and SFF media.

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