It's no joke--but the real, dismaying experience of a normally
"My Husband Was A Woman!"
Vol. 2, No. 4, January, 1952
Perhaps you saw
it in the newspapers. It made the front page all over the nation--not with
a banner headline but in a little box. Most editors probably ran it because
they thought it was good for a laugh.
It occurred early in 1951 in a fairly large
town in Connecticut. A young girl who was unmarried found that she had
become pregnant. Since for some time she had been in love with a young
factory worker to whom she had given herself freely, she insisted that
he marry her. He refused, so the girl took her paternity suit to court.
There, in a melodramatic scene that would never have been believed if newspapers
hadn't carried the story as fact, a doctor examined the young factory worker--only
to discover that "he" was a "she!"
Possibly you don't think such a thing could
Let me tell you, then, why it can happen.
Why, in fact, it did happen--to me.
It's not an easy thing to talk about. Sex
never is; and what I have to say goes right to the heart of the matter.
It may make some people laugh, but I refuse to let that keep me from speaking
frankly to the rest of you.
I am a woman who for several years was very
happily married and who then learned that my husband was a female. Like
that other young girl in Connecticut, I too found out from a doctor.
To explain how such a thing can come
about, I must speak honestly. I am 27 years old. I know what a woman of
my age should know about sex. I know how babies are born, have known ever
since a girl friend explained it to me in no uncertain terms--in crude
terms that upset me profoundly.
For weeks, I couldn't look my father in the
eye. For months I wouldn't go near a boy. Slowly, however, that blunt introduction
to sexual facts became simply a part of my knowledge of life. If that had
been my only shocking encounter with the business of male and female relationships,
I doubt that things would have occurred as they did. After all, many woman
who pretend to have a refined attitude toward the sexual act are still
familiar with every word a truck driver uses--and use them themselves on
But for me that was only the first of
a series of experiences. When I was seventeen, I went to a dance in a nearby
town with a boy who had borrowed his father's car. On our return, he stopped
in a lovely spot we called Lover's Lane. It didn't surprise me. As a matter
of fact, I'd been waiting for it. I had been kissed before and liked it.
But that night I found out what happens to
a boy when he kisses too long and too passionately. Before I could stop
him, he was pushing me back on the seat. I screamed; and he froze at the
sound. Minutes later, in silence except for my sniffling, he drove me home.
I won't go into detail about other experiences
I has with men--the dentist I worked for, who took me into the dark room
to show me, so he said, how to develop x-ray pictures of his patient's
teeth; and the doctor who, to diagnose a complaint of sinus trouble, insisted
on a "thorough" examination; and the shoe saleman with his special way
of holding my leg. Male animals, it seemed to me, had many words on their
lips but just one idea in their minds.
Not that I grew up hating all men. I enjoyed
being with some, and whenever a Saturday night slipped by without a date,
I was as blue as the next girl. But I wouldn't go out with just any fellow
who asked me. More and more I tended to go with a certain
What sort? Women would call him "sweet." I
can't say what men would call him--"sissyish," perhaps. Let me state right
away, though, that my dates weren't homosexuals. They were just men with
refined tastes, more to a woman's liking.
Take Alex, for example. He was a landscape
architect, shy, sensitive, and with a nice sense of humor, yet physically
strong and masculine. He also had the most delicate but delightful way
of making love of anyone I had ever met. The trouble with most male animals
is that they know only one way of pleasing a woman--and a lot of women
aren't left pleased. I've heard enough wives speak of their own husbands
as "brutes" to know.
Alex was no brute. He was a artist at making
love. To him, a woman's lips, her neck and shoulders, these were wonderful
areas to explore, while most other men don't even know they exist. Besides,
Alex was never in a hurry. Instead of racing to see if he could set some
kind of world's record, Alex dilly-dallied delightfully --even when we
were just eating or going for a walk or talking. He made everything a pleasure.
As you may have guesses, Alex is the man I
married. (I shall call him a man because otherwise it would be confusing,
and besides, that is how I think of him. I realize that, physiologically
at least, Alex was constructed like a female. But as a doctor explained
to me later, physical structure is only one of many things that mark the
difference between men and women.)
Before Alex asked me to marry him, he explained
that he didn't want to have any children. I thought that he might change
his mind in the years to come, and in any case I loved him too much to
allow such an objection to keep us apart. That, in a way, explains why
neither on our wedding night nor at any later time was there any problem
of sexual maladjustment.
Obviously I cannot go into detail about this.
The only point I want to make clear is that sexual love is like a violin.
Many different themes can be played on it, and when beautiful notes are
struck, there is no limit to the intense pleasure a person can be experiencing.
And who would stop a violinist in the middle of his playing to ask: "What
is the name of that piece?" While your pleasure lasts, who cares?
That's what happened to the girl in Connecticut
who thought that her lover had fathered her child.
That's what happened to me for several years.
There were things that bothered me,
though. At the outset, Alex made it clear that he was a man who liked privacy,
even in marriage. Since I did, too, that was fine, although I did think
he was touchy about such matters. I remember walking into the bathroom
once, when he was taking a shower and had forgotten to lock the door. The
wild urgency with which he cried out from behind the curtain for me to
leave, was enough to send shivers down my spine. Later he apologized and
tried to make a joke of it, but he didn't convince me.
Then there was the queer stubbornness with
which he refused to join the local Y although we both loved to swim and
the Y had the only pool in town. He fell back on all sorts of odd excuses,
and in the end I dismissed it as a prejudice of his against group activities.
Matters finally came to a climax when Alex
became ill. We didn't know what was wrong but one night he started running
a high fever. In alarm I called a doctor, but when Alex heard me on the
telephone, he flew into a furious temper. He shouted that he'd never had
a doctor in all his life and didn't want to start now. I thought that was
nonsense and told him so. I didn't mind his rage--I thought it was the
That illusion flew out the window after the doctor
arrived, for Alex still refused to admit that he needed any kind of medical
attention. It was a nightmarish situation, one that I'll remember to my
dying day. There lay poor Alex, weak with fever, yet fighting desperately
to keep the truth from being bared.
Finally, exhausted by the violence of his
protests and by his fever, Alex collapsed.
Our marriage, of course, collapsed at the
same time, although I didn't know that until the doctor came out of Alex's
room after completing his examination. From his troubled air and his difficulty
in choosing words, I leaped to the conclusion that Alex was dying and the
fear deafened me so that I couldn't hear what the doctor was really saying.
So he uttered the terrible truth a second
"Your husband," he said, "is a female!"
I couldn't believe my ears. I thought that
I had gone insane, or that it was I who was running the fever. I grew a
little hysterical and the doctor gave me a sedative.
Later that night, while Alex fought
off an attack of virus pneumonia, the doctor tried to help me in my personal
struggle. He explained that every human being is a combination of male
and female, with one sex dominant. Physiologically a man is distinctly
different from a woman--and yet those elements that make a man a man are
present, though undeveloped in the woman. Female characteristics, on the
other hand, are also present, though undeveloped, in the man.
Sometimes, the doctor said, nature slips up.
A person who is externally shaped as one sex, is given the wrong glands.
Alex was such a person. In one crucial respect, Alex was really "Alice,"
a woman. But in most other respects, he was Alex; flat chested, hairy,
strong muscled, deep voiced.
Unfortunately, the doctor concluded, society
judges males and females according to the single crucial characteristic.
But "Alice" could not tolerate being considered a female. She called herself
Alex, and as Alex she was happy. As Alex she made me happy.
What could I do now? Nothing--absolutely nothing.
For though at first I thought we could go on as if the doctor had never
revealed the truth, I later realized that that was impossible. The knowledge
had divorced us. That, incidentally, was the only divorce we had. Legally
we had never been married.
The doctor told "Alice" that surgery might
possibly change her completely into what she wanted to be, a man. She is
going to have that operation.
I had always known that life and death can
hang on a stroke of a surgeon's scalpel. Now I know that sex can, too.