Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Hermaphrodite: Chris

Chris is a transgendered person -- in this instance, someone born in a female body but whose internal wiring, even as a child, seemed to be more typically male. ''From my earliest memories, I pictured myself in a male role,'' he explains. ''I was the boy in all my plays, the husband in all the house scenarios.'' As an adult woman, Chris -- whose birth name is Christina -- was ''miserably uncomfortable'' with the contradiction between how she felt and how she appeared. She hid her body beneath baggy clothes, identified as a lesbian and was often perceived by strangers to be an adolescent boy. Store clerks would uneasily switch between sir and ma'am when speaking to Chris. (''This was North Carolina,'' Chris reminds, ''where everyone's either a sir or a ma'am.'') In women's restrooms, Chris was treated scornfully, with women saying, ''Can't you read the sign?''

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