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.
She quotes from Cecil Day Lewis’ The Volunteer near the end:
Tell them in England, if they ask
What brought us to these wars,
To this plateau beneath the night’s
Grave manifold of stars –
It was not fraud or foolishness,
Glory, revenge, or pay:
We came because our open eyes
Could see no other way.
Others have written that it is dated, but it is autobiography and necessarily reflects life as the author found it, from her perspective.
I happened to be reading her collection of vignettes, Contact!, at the same time and noticed a number of scenes extracted and modified in the later work.