The New Hermaphrodite
Introduction to this web posting, 2011:
I believe that my grandfather’s brother, Freddy Wallace, might have been — in the lingo of a former era — a Hermaphrodite. I know next to nothing about him. He was born circa 1915, served in the Navy during World War Two, and lived in Chicago. Family scuttlebutt painted him as different, or odd, or queer. Eventually I asked my grandmother if he was Gay. “Well,” she replied, “he’s not really like that — he’s both.” Both? “Well, he’s kinda like both a man and a woman. I don’t know anything else — I don’t want to talk about it — don’t ask me about it again.” She resisted further interrogation, repeating the same answer over and over again, despite my escalating resolve.
What follows is an essay I wrote for Apocalypse Culture II in 1999. That was before I realized that Intersex people — “Hermaphrodites” — often suffer from invasive medical butchery inflicted at birth by doctors dedicated to perpetuating gender binarism. These unfortunate folks go through life feeling damaged and defiled — often they feel as if they’re the wrong gender, and nothing fits; nothing feels right. They had no say in the selection of their gender and by extension their role in society. They dislike the word “Hermaphrodite” as a relic of an uncaring age. Not knowing that, I used it liberally in the following essay; I regret any consternation caused to anybody. But I leave it in place and ask the reader to cut me some slack as a guy who wrote something in good faith prior to this enlightened age.
Be sure to check out my updated version of NASA's alien-attracting anthrocentric plaque at the end of this piece.
The New Hermaphrodite
In the future the perfect human being will be a Hermaphrodite — an Intersexual fusion of genders combining male and female genitalia, male and female hormones — Hermes and Aphrodite, god and goddess, diablo and diabla, Sonny and Cher.
Intersexuality — common in the Animal Kingdom — is the mingling of the sexual characteristics of both male and female within a single creature. Intersexual creatures combine aspects of genital form and reproductive organs, thereby exhibiting contradictions of the morphological criteria of gender.
Intersexual human beings — Hermaphrodites — possess both testicular and ovarian gonadal tissues and exhibit ambiguous gender — in other words they have both a penis and vagina. Perhaps the reader envisions “chicks with dicks,” “pre-op” hookers, outrageous “She-males” or twisted Victorian nightmares — they may seem real, but statistically speaking such stereotypes are based more on pornographic empiricism than on research: the preponderance of natural Intersexuality occurs among the world’s worms, slugs and snails.
Intersexual humans are rarely “true” Hermaphrodites — they rarely exhibit simultaneously “perfect” genitalia of both genders and they rarely possess equal amounts of testicular and ovarian tissue. A chromatin gender-determination test performed upon a true Hermaphrodite can result in either a positive (female) or a negative (male). Most Intersexual humans are either female psuedohermaphrodites or male psuedohermaphrodites exhibiting one or more contradictions of gender but with only ovarian or only testicular tissue (and whose chromatin test results in a positive or negative depending on “primary” gender).
Less than one percent of the human population are Hermaphrodites. Throughout history they have been hidden away, fetishized, loved, pursued by adventurous romantics seeking bisexual bliss and ferreted out by witch hunters seeking victims. The degree to which their various genital apparatuses developed no doubt contributed to both their fortunes and their misfortunes. Every once in a while a true Hermaphrodite must have appeared, stepping forth from heaven like a genetic gift for some lucky lover.
Today, if we describe an “ideal” Hermaphrodite as possessing the morphologically perfect genitalia of both sexes, and divorce the concept of Hermaphroditism from reproduction, then we can assume that it’s possible for almost any healthy human being to become Hermaphroditic by way of surgical, chemical and psychological processes.
Tomorrow, if we describe an ideal Hermaphrodite as an individual of “both sexes” capable of sexual activity with both genders and capable of both insemination and gestation and/or asexual reproduction (and perhaps as being an indispensable part of the normal sexual activity of non-Hermaphrodites), then we can predict that it should be possible to produce Hermaphrodites by genetic engineering.
But this is today, and the limits of today’s technology describe the area in which our imaginations may range; similarly, the limits of today’s sexual mores describe an area beyond which lie only our dreams. There are two ways to become Hermaphroditic — birth and surgery. Perhaps someday there will be a third — genetic engineering, as mentioned — and perhaps in some Science-fictional future even further-out fantasies of Bisexuality and self-replication will become realities.
Biological and historical overviews are in order: In the beginning some deities punished humanity, or some deities rewarded humanity, or some aliens had intercourse with humanity, or some time travelers made a mistake — thus appeared the first human being having the sex organs of both genders.
The word “Hermaphrodite” comes from Greek mythology — Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes (commence, invention) and Aphrodite (beauty, love). To fulfill his particular desires he joined himself into one body with the water nymph Salmacis. Unsatisfied with his new form, he laid a curse upon a fountain in which he swam so that other bathers in it became Intersexual like him.
Every person begins life as a Hermaphrodite. The fetus possesses undifferentiated sexual glands that will eventually become either ovaries or testes according to the vagaries of chromosomal mechanics. There are two genders because two are enough to generate the maximum number of potential genetic recombinations, assuring virtually every healthy individual a chance to mate with a member of the “opposite sex.” Furthermore, sexual reproduction, in which genomes are shuffled between generations, is a means of shedding adverse mutations. A “third sex” as presently imaginable would be impractical — mating must remain a relatively simple matter, at least until humanity’s survival is guaranteed. But, after that …
Hermaphrodites as they exist today do not constitute a third sex, but in the future, in “three-way” sexual relationships, they could provide as-yet-unimagined forms of erotic stimulation. Through carefully cultivated collective fetishism, such stimulation could become indispensable to human reproduction — just like all the other signals and activities that bring people to orgasm.
References to Hermaphroditism are plentiful in history and literature, but the reader should regard them with a grain of salt. The ages have seen much censorship, misquotation, misogyny and Homophobia, and such obstacles to objectivity make all sources suspect. The concept of Hermaphroditism has become interchangeable with Transvestitism, Homosexuality and Androgyny to the point where all represent the same archetype.
The people of ancient India referred to Intersexual human beings as “Hijiras” and accorded them the status of females while simultaneously despising and revering them. The Romans considered Intersexuals to be oracles, yet treated them with disdain. The Navajo Amerinds recognized three sexes: male, female and “Nadle,” ostracizing the latter, whom they considered to be both sexes. Renaissance Europeans entertained two principal literary interpretations of Hermaphroditism — mythic Androgyny and satiric Androgyny. The mythic variety embodied allegories of union and togetherness. Satirical Androgyny represented a split, as well as ostentation and campiness, and often hinted at flamboyant aspects of Homosexuality. Today, porno, exotica and a general fascination with medical anomalies and unusual sexual practices inform the prevailing view of Hermaphroditism.
Thus far the question has been, “What is a Hermaphrodite?” The word “freak” is vulgar and charged with hierarchical heartache — Hermaphrodites are simply different types of people who can be very beautiful. Harsh attitudes are unfortunate, but in fact most societies have frowned upon them and regarded them as imperfect and abnormal — the Romans characterized them as tragic. However, they are not tragic at all; perhaps they represent a mutation towards some higher form — a streamlined, self-perpetuating form waiting deep within the intricacies of human DNA; an asexual being free of dependence on others, able to reproduce by sex with any other human — or by itself.
Assuming Hermaphrodites to be a step in the direction of perfection, it’s necessary to re-examine the historical aversion to them. Eventually they’ll be desired by a broad range of people; ultimately many non-Hermaphrodites might wish to become Intersexual to some degree. After all, whatever can happen will happen (genetically speaking), so why not usher in the inevitable with an orgasmic outreach to a future unknown? The question becomes: “Who wants to be a Hermaphrodite?”
Who will lie down beneath the surgeon’s blade? Who will change their very bodies into new animals? A better civilization could arise out of the bipolar ashes of human imperfection — or widespread Hermaphroditism could become the straw that breaks civilization’s back. Either way, who will say “I do!”?
The process of becoming Hermaphroditic through surgery depends on technologies developed in furtherance of transexuality, the cutting edge of body modification.
Body modification is the deliberate reconstruction of the human form. It encompasses all procedures that change human morphology. Body modifiers restore the faces of accident victims, create sexual signals where nature has proven deficient, or perpetuate sadistic mutilations from which lifetimes of horrors will bloom. Throughout history, by the patient application of either science or superstition (or both), body modifiers proved themselves capable of making anybody into anything.
Present-day techniques make possible a complete transformation from one gender to the other. Individuals who undergo “sex-change” or genital reassignment procedures are Transsexuals. As pioneers of the flesh, Transsexuals are members of a new, transcendent human type unlike either of the primal genders from which they draw their genetic and emotional material.
Transsexuals undergo surgical correction of “gender dysphoria,” a condition in which their gender identity is in conflict with their sexual anatomy, causing physical discomfort and psychological rejection of the “normal” biological and social roles of male or female. Transsexuality is often associated with Homosexuality, but about half of all Transsexuals remain sexually attracted to members of their newly achieved gender.
Genital-reassignment surgeries for men make a nerve-rich segment of the otherwise-removed penis the fleshy basis of neoclitoris (through a procedure called clitoriplasty) and construct a vaginal canal out of muscle and skin and nerves and transplanted mucous membranes (vaginoplasty). Auxiliary procedures include breast enlargement, thyro-arytenoid muscle resecting (to elevate vocal pitch), as well as prolonged hormonal and nutritional therapies.
For women, intensive plastic surgeries extend and incorporate the clitoris and urinary tract into a fleshy appendage, which becomes a penis (phalloplasty), and manipulate the labia to blend into the groin (labioplasty). Female-to-male transformation can also involve the implantation of either a fluid-pressure penile prosthesis that, by the actions of a pump and reservoir, injects water into spongy material, stiffening the appendage, or an implanted rigid silicone rod that creates a permanent state of erection. Mastectomies, hair transplants and prolonged hormonal therapies complete the program.
Surgical Transsexuality represents the cutting edge of medical science. It’s a dangerous, costly and protracted process that only the most daring and ambitious sufferers of gender dysphoria will endure. It takes several difficult years to complete. Since there’s no guarantee that things will go well in any surgery — especially those as experimental and risky as genital reassignments — some unfortunate people’s lives have been ruined by sharp blades making erroneous swipes, ill-guided steel tubes piercing bladder walls, bad nerve splicings that leave faces twitching, or countless other mistakes.
Not every genital reassignment is successful. Not every genital reassignment is even completed. Sometimes fortune or social circumstance change during the long transition from girl to boy or from boy to girl. Some procedures may be too costly or painful to be continued. Many partially transformed individuals are unable to further modify themselves due to a lack of surgical success or money or resolve. They often live out their lives in confusion and depression (or else they join the “Hermaphrodite” hookers — usually pre-op males enjoying the fruits of hormonal therapies — who haunt sex ads and red-light districts).
Most individuals who undergo genital-reassignment surgeries and related procedures adjust to their new anatomies and lead productive, fulfilled lives. Throughout their protracted transition from gender A to gender B, they’re able to engage in all sorts of sexual activities — and many of them cherish those unique transitory pleasures.
Some transformers avail themselves of both male-to-female and female-to-male transgender technologies. Those clever ones become “Transsexual Hermaphrodites” — and live happily ever after.
As the number of Transsexual Hermaphrodites increases, society will undergo a commensurate transformation — part sexual liberation and part witch hunt. Transsexual Hermaphrodites might polarize public opinion in the same way that “sex-change” pioneers did during the mid-Twentieth Century — but unlike Transsexuals, the new Hermaphrodites will be an obvious addition to the body politic rather than blending in among the billions of single-gender individuals.
It’s most likely that the initial Hermaphroditic trend will embrace elements of Androgyny, because Androgynous physical types can easily adopt the fashions and effects of both genders. As personal tastes evolve, any physical type of human being will be able to transform via varying combinations of gender-bending possibilities. As a result, all sorts of new weirdos will appear in the sex business.
Ultimately, if scientific trends continue, genetic engineers will produce Hermaphrodites. Chromosomal materials that dictate the natural occurrence of Intersexuality will be isolated and the appropriate genes recombined so that carefully planned “natural-born” ideal Hermaphrodites will come into existence. At first they might be responses to the demands of fetishistic billionaires with plenty of patience. If genetic Hermaphroditism works out, some adventurous parents might desire children of the newly created gender. “Hermaphrodite” will become just another option on the menu of possible traits available from libraries of “natural” DNA samples and their synthesized, patented analogs. The prenatal subjects no doubt will be imbued with other desirable physical and mental qualities so that true Hermaphrodites could be among, or stand alone as, a new breed of “super people.”
The new breed won’t be welcomed by everybody. Governments and religions might attempt to contain and control Hermaphroditism. Great controversies will arise in which ethical questions about artificially induced Hermaphroditism become subservient to the pragmatism of politics, propaganda and philosophy. Will asexual reproduction be legal? Will Hermaphrodites live among the general population? Will they be able to be polygamous? The only thing that will settle such controversies will be the level of power to which the Hermaphrodites rise.
Mechanical and electronic components eventually will replace parts of the fragile human body. Nerves will interact with wires as computers and psychic superchargers augment the mind. Sex organs will scramble together until it’s impossible to tell what’s bio from what’s techno and what’s male from what’s female. Hermaphroditic whores, Bisexual biomachines, sick sideshow freaks, or the perfect lover — whatever turns you on!
Like everyone else of my time I was taught to stay away from Hermaphrodites. Everyone knows they’re bad news and they’re nothing but trouble from which the most exquisite grief will come. They look good and they smell good and on the surface they’re very alluring and seductive, but once they get their cocks into you, and yours into them, you’re pretty much hooked until either you die or you get with the lucky few who manage to escape.
I was taught that Hermaphrodites are shit-stupid lying whores who hate us because we were born male or female and can therefore go to heaven when we die, and I was also taught that we move forward in time with them through an adaptive evolution that makes our symbiosis a fact by default because some scientists said that’s the way it’s gonna be thousands of years ago. But I believe that the evolutionary mechanism is fucked up.
I was under their spell, and I sat there and cheered them on as they burned me out, fucked me, sucked me, did me up and drained me dry.
One night I was at a party and a Hermaphrodite was there. I avoided “it,” but of course I was very polite. The heavy drugs came out and the Hermaphrodite looked at me with the sultry sort of “you can do exactly anything to me” quasi-telepathic allure. Little boy’s eyes, little girl’s eyes — I took that first forbidden step in the wrong direction when we went over and said, “Hello.”
In the beginning it was all good. Every once in awhile a Hermaphrodite or two would come over and chill me out. They were engineered so fine — they’re a true crossbreed. You take the giant cock into your mouth and slowly squeeze it with your lips and then move it out of the way so you can smartly lick the peachy pussy — it starts there. You squeeze a little harder, lick a little longer and they start to do all these crazy things to you. You would think that they could simply do the heterosexual and Homosexual things in different combinations, each of which would be amazing — however, that would be predictable, and you would have expected even the most extreme stuff. But a Hermaphrodite is different than that. It’s as if sexual potential increases in some wild geometric progression so that performance prowess increases exponentially. They’re like drugs because you gotta have it, but unlike drugs because the experience is always totally new.
As time went on, it got bad. I started seeing more of them. It’s a mental thing: you want that awful cock vibrating inside you, and you want to fuck that exploding pussy at the same time. The monosexual human mind was not designed to fathom both of those things simultaneously, and the chemicals in the brain overload and part of your mind shuts down and you can see everything in such a beautifully clear reality and you’re getting your lights fucked out and suddenly you come — it’s just too much, and you become addicted.
Hermaphrodites are taking over the world because they’re different and smart and everybody’s afraid to even criticize them and they’ve amassed so much power and wealth and fame and immortality and insular arrogance and seething hatred of each and every one of us — you see, they’re like the third sex that can breed with itself in a cloning sort of asexual way. They don’t need any Monosexual input. They fuck us for the same reason we fuck them. Hermaphrodites are self-contained and aren’t necessary for anything, really. One of the biggest questions in the history of science is why exactly they were created in the first place. But they’re here and we’ve either got to kill them or learn to live with them.
Their own kind have warned them not to fuck us, that we’re a step backwards, that we’re dirty and primitive — can you blame some of them for wanting to check us out? But forget them. They lower our intelligence. They infect boys and girls alike. They twist us up into big balls of shit.
But most of them go about their business-as-usual of taking over the world, steadily and surely, and they ignore us except when they want entertainment.
I’ve been staying away from them. It’s been a long time since I sat there crying and coming, hoping beautiful things when I knew all along that all they would give me was weirdness and porno images and spent seed. I think about them all the time, and about how everybody always warned me that Hermaphrodites are really fucked up …
In 1972 NASA launched the Pioneer 10 space probe, the first human-built object ever to leave our Solar System. It carried a gold-anodized aluminum plaque inscribed with information about our species and our wonderful planet. Following the directions on the plaque, spacefaring pirates, for example, could find us, as could people-eating aliens, slave-seeking extraterrestrials, or super-advanced know-it-alls. That is, if they could figure out the plaque’s schematic code, based on what else but the hyperfine transition of hydrogen. This spin-flip transition of a hydrogen atom’s electron state from spin up to spin down, depicted at the top of the plaque, corresponds to a 21-cm wavelength and a 1420-MHz frequency. These values serve as measurements in the other symbols, which include our Sun’s position relative to fourteen pulsars and a diagram of the Solar System.
The plaque also depicted the figures of a male and female human being. It should have depicted a third sex as well — an Intersex individual (that’s “Hermaphrodite” to you). I re-designed the plaque’s imagery to bring it in conformity with our present day’s spectrum of human types. The painter Eric Hammer created the new figure and added it to the graphics.