Girls Will Be Boys

From The New York Times:

Man_2 Michael Dillon wanted nothing more than to be invisible, to be one of the guys. Problem: he was born with a woman’s body. Everything he did toward realizing his humble dream — the cross-dressing, the hormones and surgeries and the chimera that resulted — pushed it further from his grasp. He went through life as the most visible sort of human being: a physical anomaly. He was the first person on record to undergo surgery (13 operations between 1946 and 1949) to change his gender.

Dillon’s story, as Kennedy tells it, is itself a chimera: part biography, part medical history. Here the surgery is seamless, the hybrid better than the sum of its parts. “The First Man-Made Man” is oddly mesmerizing, as close to Shakespearean tragedy as you can come with the words “tube pedicle” and “mast of cartilage” in your book. It’s Romiette and Julio.

Dillon fell in love but once in his life. In 1950, he met Roberta Cowell, the only woman who might understand and even love him. Alas, Roberta didn’t love Michael Dillon. She led him on, because, well, she needed him to remove her testicles. Owing to an obscure bit of British law, the physical mutilation of a man who would otherwise be fit for military service was then illegal.

More here.