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By Jan Morris

The author Jan Morris has led a rare existence. probably her so much extraordinary paintings is that this sincere account of her ten-year transition from guy to girl - its pains and joys, its frustrations and discoveries.

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We hear of A n d e a n sorcerers obliged b y tribal custom to change their sexual roles, of M o h a v e Indian boys publicly initiated into girlhood, of y o u n g Tahitians encouraged in infancy to think of themselves as m e m b e r s of the opposite sex. If to m o d e r n westerners the idea of changing sex has seemed, at least until recently, m o n s t r o u s , absurd or un-Godly, a m o n g simpler peoples it has m o r e often b e e n regarded as a process of divine omniscience, a m a r k of specialness.

F o r this is how I conceived my condition. T h e A r m y h a d confirmed m y intuition t h a t I was fundamentally different from my male contemporaries. T h o u g h I very m u c h enjoyed the c o m p a n y of girls, I certainly h a d n o desire t o sleep with t h e m , and the sexual ambitions which so preoccupied the m i n d s of my colleagues simply did n o t enter m y head at all. M y o w n libidinous fancies were far vaguer, a n d were concerned m o r e with caress t h a n copula­ tion. I suppose I was really pining for a m a n ' s love.

T h e worst would never quite h a p p e n , I c a m e rather smugly t o think: somebody would always intervene, take the b r u n t , or forgive m e . You know the feeling, I ' m sure. S u c h kindnesses were seldom exactly homosexual. I still did n o t look effeminate, a n d certainly did n o t feel myself to b e homosexual. B u t the whole of English upper-class life, as I was later to discover m o r e explicitly, was shot t h r o u g h with bisexual instinct. T h e public school system, the inhibitions of English m a n n e r s , the h a p p y tolerance accorded to originals a n d mavericks of every kind—all these traits m e a n t that male relationships were full of emotional n u a n c e and u n d e r t o n e .

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