Conundrum

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by Jan Morris

The great travel writer Jan Morris was born James Morris. James Morris distinguished himself in the British military, became a successful and physically daring reporter, climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and established a reputation as a historian of the British empire. He was happily married, with several children. To all appearances, he was not only a man, but a man’s man.

Except that appearances, as James Morris had known from early childhood, can be deeply misleading. James Morris had known all his conscious life that at heart he was a woman.

Conundrum , one of the earliest books to discuss transsexuality with honesty and without prurience, tells the story of James Morris’s hidden life and how he decided to bring it into the open, as he resolved first on a hormone treatment and, second, on risky experimental surgery that would turn him into the woman that he truly was.

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“In a Kenya game park once I saw a family of wart-hogs waddling ungainly and in a tremendous hurry across the grass. Contemptuous though I am of those who find animals comic…still I could not help laughing at this quaint spectacle. My African companion rightly rebuked me. “You should not laugh at them,” he said. “They are beautiful to each other.”

— Jan Morris, Conundrum