LYNDALL BEDDY, Saturday, July 25, 2009
Dr James Barry, probably born Miss Margaret Bulkley, lived in an age which helped the deception. Fashionable men were dandies, dress was as important for men as for women - padded shoulder pads, high heels, ruffles and all the frills
(S)he also arrived at the Cape at an opportune time. Lord Charles Somerset, the only governor of the Cape who was a member of the aristocracy, had lost his beloved wife, with whom he had eloped when she was only 16, thanks to the bungling of a doctor. He was in the mood for a new young modern doctor to trust with the health of his two daughters, and the health of the colony.
Dr James Barry was sponsored by three of the great liberal minds of the day. It is very likely that they knew his secret. Lord Buchan, for instance, was passionate about education for women. Dr Astley Cooper was the world expert on hernias, until Barry surpassed him. And James Barry RA, the uncle after whom Barry was named, had to have known that his niece had become a nephew.
It is even possible that Lord Charles Somerset knew. A scandal erupted when a fraudster, posing as an attorney, in prison and about to be deported, had a poster smuggled out of the prison and put up in the centre of Cape Town, accusing lord Charles of buggery with Dr James Barry. When the doctor, Lord Charles, and his new second wife, appeared at the theatre together, the scandal died down. But Lord Charles closed down the press, which caused an almighty fight about press freedom.
Dr James Barry transformed medical care in the government institutions with emphasis on good nutrition, cleanliness and exercise – ideas way ahead of his time. He spent all his spare money on the poor. He bought the freedom of two slaves, one of them a known hermaphrodite. He transformed the treatment of lepers in the leper colony. He did the first caesarian operation in the Cape, and one of the first ever in the world, on the mother of the child later known as James Barry Munnik. News of this amazing successful operation, after which BOTH mother and child LIVED, spread around the world, over 100 years before Cape Town again became famous for the first heart transplant.
One of the reasons that the doctor was able to do so risky an operation was his expertise on the sexual organs of the human body. He wrote papers on the subject way ahead of the knowledge of the time. With knowledge gained from his own body?
Not only in the Cape but in later postings, in Jamaica, St Helena, Corfu, he did the same modernization of colonial health care. He was on home leave when the Crimean war was being fought – and spent his leave in the war zone, where he had an argument with Florence Nightingale. His instructions on health care pre-date Florence Nightingale’s by 36 years.
It was Barry, and other doctors like him who, spread around the world with colonialism, found the cures and treatments for tropical illnesses. Barry became an expert on venereal diseases, and advocated a treatment using an indigenous Cape plant used by the local herbalists. Everywhere he was posted Barry worked with the indigenous healers and their herbs.
Dr Barry’s instructions for his death had always been explicit – that there was to be no autopsy, and he was to be wrapped in the linen from his bed and buried without examination. But that did not happen, so the secret was discovered, and covered up again.
James Barry was not a man, but the evidence shows that it is unlikely that (s)he was a woman either, nor an hermaphrodite, but most likely a third sex person of the AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) variety. (S)he would have had her testicles start to descend at puberty – often the first sign of this conditions, and usually mistaken for the development of a hernia in what appears to be a woman.
Doctors, scientists and philosophers have always known that the third sex exists. Where societies are enlightened enough to allow these things to be recorded, the stats show that about 1 in every 1000 people is from the third sex. Aristotle thought this a condition of a lack of balance between the male and female in a person, but then Aristotle blamed everything on a lack of balance. Galen disputed Aristotle’s theory, and wrote that such people were a third sex on their own, not male or female.
Until relatively recently medical practitioners and parents have conspired to force these children into the accepted mould of either male or female. This is not longer the case in enlightened societies, where the child is allowed to develop until old enough to make choices, and more and more of them are choosing to remain as they are, not to artificially become another sex.
Why almost 2000 years after Galen, do we pretend these people don’t exist, and why do we accord them no status in law, medicine and religion? Those few who have tackled the question have called the third sex the “original undivided Adam”.
Classical knowledge considered there to be seven human sexual variations, from the aggressive Alpha male to the submissive Ultra feminine female.
Is it not time for us to acknowledge that the human race has more than two sexes?
Source: Click here
This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International