Dr. Eleanor Burns, for anyone who is wondering, is thirty-five as of 9/1/15, lives in Cardiff, and although unemployed in her field, is an English Literature academic.
I took my doctorate in the poet P B Shelley (1792-1822), having encountered the book “Shelley’s Mirrors of Love” (Bonca, Teddi Cichester; SUNY Press; 1998) which posited the theory that much of the poet’s motivation for writing was an “imaginative transsexualism” …
“Brown comes closer to the truth when he discerns in Shelley a yearning for unisexuality, but the word androgyny, which Brown constantly invokes, is a misnomer when applied to the Shelleyan ideal. For Shelley’s politics of androgyny […] leaves little or no room for the masculine […] By renouncing his own gender and identifying his heroes, and himself, with the feminine, Shelley tries to erase those distinctions between self and other, male and female that he considered “detestable” […].” (p. 107)
This has been recognised by others as well:
“If Percy Shelley allowed himself a moment of complete honesty and psychic clarity, I believe he would admit to deep personal anxieties about gender, specifically his own. […] It is universally agreed that the veiled maiden of [Alastor] is none other than a reflection of his own soul. The evidence leaves little room for another interpretation. […] He feels correctly that the presence of the Spirit is indistinguishable from himself. Here alone, at the end of his long journey, the maiden returns at last, and he sees her not in a fantastic vision but in the reflection of his own eyes waiting beyond the veil of the water. At last he recognizes on some level that the maiden’s luminescence is “the light/ That shone within his soul.””
(Anna Magdalena, https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/the-poetic-feminine/)
All a matter of interpretation, of course. There was no-one in Shelley’s time either capable of or inclined to diagnose gender dysphoria, nor was early nineteenth-century science exactly overflowing with options for treating it… Still, it was a compelling theory that appealed to me powerfully at the time (2001-2004, when I was very much repressing my own dysphoria. Writing about the subject academically was a manageable displacement activity, at least for a time).