Two-spirited

For French Algerian author Albert Camus, life is rooted in paradox, in the absurd. “I rebel; therefore we exist.”

From between its mother’s thighs the baby joined the world. It cried like every other baby. It smelled like every other baby.

An ancient Inuit myth tells of the first two men conceiving a baby. Through song a male converts into a female:

Here is a man
Here is Penis
May he form a passage there
A great passage
Passage, passage, passage.1

It looked like every other baby, save for its ambiguous genitalia.

Prince Rogers Nelson entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, in part for his creation of the Minneapolis sound, a combination of funk, rock, pop, and R&B.2 The unpronounceable symbol, which he uses, fuses both male and female signs; his high-heeled shoe collection asserts that he is “50-50 girl.”3

Doctors wanted to alter it into a girl.

In Yoruba mythology, Olodumare, the Supreme Being, “is neither male nor female”—only IT.4

Parents wanted a boy.

Two-spirited individuals, those whose bodies contain both masculine and feminine spirits simultaneously, populate some Native American tribes. They can share in either of the so-called normal gender roles. Certain two-spirited men cut their thighs or penis to replicate menstruation.5

Hastily the decision was made. The baby would be a girl with a couple slices here and there. Her “former nature” would be forgotten. Lost.

Because flatworms possess both sex organs, they engage in a practice known as penis fencing, where they fight until one pierces the other with its penises and ejaculates. The loser of this duel carries the eggs.6

The baby made choo-choo noises with trains but her parents threw them away and showed her how to sing to dolls.

1Yves Bonnefoy, ed., Mythologies Volume 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 1146.
2Nathan Brackett and Christian Hoard, The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 655.
3Prince Rogers Nelson, “Arrogance,” Love Symbol Album, 1992.
4Kólá Abímbólá, Yorùbá Culture: A Philosophical Account (Birmingham, UK: Iroko Academic Publishers, 2006), 51.
5Pierrette Désy, The Berdaches: “Man-Woman” in North America (1993), 23.
6Christopher Badcock, Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction (Polity Press, 2000), 151.

Benjamin Grossman received his MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College. He has previously written for FlashFiction.Net. Also, he blogs about taboo at http://thebreakdownoftaboo.wordpress.com. Currently, he lives outside of Philadelphia.

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