I was born twice: first as a baby girl in January 1960; and then as a teenage boy, in an emergency room … Specialised readers may have come across me in Dr Peter Luce's study: Gender identity in 5-alpha reductase pseudohermaphrodites, published in 1975. Or maybe you have seen my photograph …”
Callie or Cal Stephanides is a hermaphrodite, who is the recipient of a gene passed down through three generations. The author, Eugenides, thoroughly researched this condition and used it as a backbone for his fictional work. While a student at a girls' school in Detroit, Callie finds herself drawn to a chain smoking strawberry blond classmate with a gift for acting, and a passion subsequently develops between them. This, coupled with her failure to develop, leads Callie to suspect that she is different to the other girls.
Callie's fate had been sealed in 1922 when her grandparents were