By Stephen Wheeler


Gina was the kind of girl most men dream about. Half an inch short of six feet tall, she had Brigitte Bardot’s eyes, Marilyn Munroe’s figure and Diana Dors’s hair. Gina was elegant; she was curvaceous; she was gorgeous. No red-blooded male could resist her. At school she had only to flutter her eyelashes at a boy to send him rushing to poetry, suicide or religion. Whoever managed to get Gina up the aisle was going to be the luckiest man alive.

That fortunate fellow turned out to be Clive Brocklebank, heir to a brewing empire in the English Midlands. From the moment he laid eyes on her Clive knew Gina was the girl for him. He couldn’t believe his luck when she agreed to marry him. As he climbed into bed on their wedding night Clive had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t already dreaming. And who could blame him? After all, he had just married the most delicious, the most delectable, the most desirable woman in all the world.

So imagine his horror, having gone to sleep in the arms of his voluptuously fragrant bride, to wake up next morning beside a snorting, hairy man.

Still half asleep, Clive smiled dreamily as Gina ran her stubby fingers through his hair and blew sweet baritone-nothings in his ear. He giggled dozily as she tickled his neck with her tongue and mooed contentedly as she wrapped a muscley arm around his waist. It was only when he felt Gina’s overnight stubble scratching his cheek that Clive finally opened his eyes. Neighbours tutted over their breakfasts as he ran screaming past their windows dressed only in his pyjama bottoms.

Unaware of the profound change that had happened to her body overnight, Gina stared in bewilderment at the open window through which her husband of a few hours had just disappeared. What on earth could have caused such bizarre behaviour, she wondered absently twirling the curls on her chest? Then she threw back the satin sheet, swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat gazing at her reflection in the wardrobe mirror.

Her first thought, oddly in the circumstances, was that the colour turquoise did not suit her. One of the straps of her wedding-night negligee, bought especially for the occasion, had slipped from her shoulder and she was idly replacing it with a cherry-tipped finger thus leading rapidly to her second thought of the day which was:

Where the fuck have my boobs gone?

Gina had nice boobs. Forty-two inches nipple-to-nipple, they were arguably her best asset, although she had so many it was difficult to choose. At least, she had when she’d gone to sleep the night before. In their place this morning was a man’s chest, broad and flat and covered with a thick mat of crisp brown curls. Gingerly she patted the unfamiliar décolletage as she searched in vain for her breasts. Nope, they had gone all right. And come to think of it other things had changed too. The facial geometry was still recognizably hers but the rest of her feminine attributes had vanished to be replaced by - well, male ones. Her slender arms were now striped with manly sinews and her swan-like neck had thickened and hardened and had a prominent Adam’s Apple wobbling disconcertingly in the middle. Worse, eight inches had been added to her waist with predictable violence done to the seams of that turquoise negligee. And her lovely child-bearing hips of which she was so proud had dropped - no, plummeted - like a stone. Most disturbing of all was what she saw when she stood up and let fall the tattered remnants of her nightdress. Gina stared with fascinated horror at the thing that now swung pendulously between her bulging thighs. Appalled, Gina quickly sat back down again and covered her embarrassment with the largest surviving piece of negligee she could find and tried to comprehend the dreadful thing had happened to her. And thus she remained for a full half-hour in a state of helpless and bewildered torpor.

At last she shook herself. This was no good. Things needed to be done. At the very least she needed a shave. And she needed help. But who could she turn to? At times like this Mummy is not necessarily the right person.

Her best friend at school had been a boy called Nigel. Being gay, Nigel was the only male she had ever known who had not tried to get into her knickers. She had always been able to talk to Nigel. They were soul mates. She also knew that since leaving school Nigel had trained as a psychiatric nurse specialising, opportunely, in psycho-sexual disorders. He was the obvious person to phone.

‘Nigel it’s me, Gina.’

There was a pause. ‘No it’s not.’

‘Of course it’s me,’ Gina growled. ‘I know who I am. At least, I thought I did.’ She mentioned certain intimate facts from their schooldays, facts that only Nigel would know about. At last he was convinced.

‘Well, you’ve either got a heavy cold or you’re in training for a barbershop quartet. Your voice seems to have dropped a couple of octaves. It’s very sexy, though. You should keep it.’

‘I may not have much choice.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You’d better come over and see for yourself.’

As soon as Nigel saw Gina he knew what the problem was. ‘I’ve come across cases like this before, although none quite so extreme. Total flipping is rare. And to do it overnight is almost unheard of.’

‘Flipping?’ said Gina, doubtfully.

Nigel nodded. ‘There is a more scientific term for it, but “flipping” pretty much describes what happens. Your body can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be Arthur or Martha, so it flips between the two. Up till now you’ve been Martha. Now it’s Arthur’s turn.’ He gave her a sympathetic smile. ‘Don’t look so glum, pet. Flipping may be rare among humans but in the rest of the animal kingdom it’s commonplace. Many varieties of fish flip at different times in their lives. Crocodiles too, depending on the weather. And snails do it all the time.’

‘You mean I’m a herm...a herm...’

‘A hermaphrodite?’ Nigel shook his head. ‘No, pet. Hermaphrodites have both male and female sex organs. You’ve only got the one set. Trouble is you’re never quite sure which one. Let me see if I can explain: You know that old chestnut about Eve being formed from Adam’s spare rib?’

Gina nodded vaguely.

He shook his head. ‘Other way around. It’s us men who are spin-offs from women. Believe it or not, everybody starts out in the womb as female. It’s only in the latter stages of pregnancy we choose which way to jump and that depends on our genes. Like mixing a cake.’ He twirled an imaginary spoon in the air. ‘Usually things work out for the best but in your case the ingredients got a bit muddled. Your genes said male, but your body said female.’ He looked at her speculatively. ‘Actually, I’m not entirely surprised. I’ve been expecting something like this for some time. You were just too dazzling to be a proper female. It’s what first got me interested in psycho-sexual dysphoria as a matter of fact.’

‘There’s never been any question about my sexuality,’ growled Gina indignantly. ‘I’m all woman!’

‘Not any more, pet. At the moment you’re all man. And a pretty fine specimen too, if I may say so.’ He ran an appreciative finger across Gina’s polished pecs.

Gina’s eyes filled with tears. ‘If you knew all this why didn’t you say something – warn me? You are supposed to be my friend.’

‘Would you have believed me if I had?’ said Nigel handing her a box of tissues - he hated to see a grown man cry. ‘Besides, it might never have happened and then you’d have worried for nothing. Frankly, I’m amazed you didn’t suspect something yourself. Didn’t you ever wonder why it was you stood head and shoulders above every other girl in the school and could out-run the captain of the boys’ athletics team?’

‘But I can’t be a man,’ protested Gina. ‘If I was I’d be attracted to women. I’ve only ever preferred men.’

‘Sweetie, maybe you haven’t noticed, but so have I.’

‘That’s different. You’re gay.’

‘Technically so are you – now.’

‘But I don’t want to be gay!’ she cried. ‘I want to be a woman!’

‘Ah, if I had a pound for every queen that’s said that to me.’

Gina’s eyes were filling up again. ‘Oh, why did this have to happen today of all days - my wedding day. I wanted it to be so special,’ she sobbed.

‘It was certainly that,’ smiled Nigel wryly. ‘Actually, come to think of it, that’s probably what’s behind all this. It’s often some traumatic new event that triggers the change.’ He gave her a sideways glance. ‘I take it you were a virgin bride?’

‘Of course!’ said Gina fanning an offended hand across her cleavage. ‘What kind of girl do you take me for?’

‘Well there’s your answer, then. Put it down to first night nerves.’

‘You mean sex,’ Gina whispered the word, ‘is what triggered’

‘Your dysphoria? Almost certainly.’

Gina brightened. ‘In that case the answer’s obvious. All I need to do is have more sex and I’ll flip back again - right?’

‘Possibly,’ agreed Nigel tentatively. ‘The only problem is, given your new’ he nodded delicately in the direction of her crotch. ‘It will have to be with a girl. Unless of course you’d like me to erm...’ Nigel cocked a suggestive eyebrow.

‘Don’t be disgusting!’ said Gina, appalled at the suggestion. ‘We’re practically sisters.’

‘In that case I’m afraid you’re stuck with being a man.’

‘You mean I will have to look like this for ever?’ She stood up letting the remnants of her negligee drop to the floor.

Nigel’s eyes feasted on the naked Adonis before him. Having been a well-endowed female, it was only to be expected Gina would be equally well-endowed as a male.

‘’Fraid so,’ he sighed wistfully. ‘Although theoretically it is possible you might flip back again of your own accord - if that’s what you really want.’

Gina’s eyes widened with hope. ‘When?’

Nigel shrugged. ‘Who knows? Tomorrow, next year. One thing’s for certain, you won’t be needing any of this stuff for a while.’ He indicated the enormous collection of rouges, creams and eyeliners crowding the top of the dressing table.

‘My make-up! I’ll never be able to wear any of it again!’ Gina sat down heavily on the bed. ‘Oh this is too horrible. There must be something I can do!’

‘Oh, there’s lots you can do, darling. Just think of the fabulous time we’re going to have kitting you out.’ Nigel paused. ‘I’m assuming you don’t already have any men’s clothes? I only ask because some do, you know. When they’re about to flip they get the urge to dress up like the opposite sex. It’s the hormones. They’re devilish little things, the hormones. They can play havoc with a girl’s wardrobe.’ He picked up one of Gina’s eye-liners and tested it on the back of his hand.

‘Oh, I don’t believe any of this,’ growled Gina snatching back the bottle. ‘It’s all a bad dream. In a few minutes I’m going to wake up in bed next to my lovely Clive.’ She caught her breath. ‘Clive - I’d forgotten all about him. Whatever will he be thinking?’

‘Ah yes - your putative husband of one day. Have you discussed any of this with him?’

‘No, of course not!’ said Gina indignantly. ‘He took one look at me like this and bolted out that window. And who could blame him?’

‘Oh, that was just shock,’ said Nigel flapping a negligent wrist. ‘He’ll come round once he’s had time to reflect. He may even grow to like the idea. You’ll be surprised at how many do. I remember this one chap, ex-Royal Marine he was…’

‘You’re right,’ said Gina jumping up. ‘Clive loves me. I’ll explain it to him. He’ll understand.’ Resolved, she started hunting for her clothes. ‘I’ll go and see him right now. I expect he’s gone back to his parents. I’ll convince him. You’ll see.’

‘That’s my girl!’

Nigel watched with amusement as Gina’s perfectly proportioned rugby-playing physique struggled into a tiny pink thong. She also found an old pair of slacks and Clive’s Fair Isle sweater. For footwear she chopped off the toes of last summer’s espadrilles and just managed to squeeze her size ten feet into them. When she’d finished she stood gazing once more at her reflection in the wardrobe mirror.

‘Darling, haven’t you forgotten something?’ said Nigel fluffing up Gina’s bouffant.

Gina tugged at a peroxided curl. ‘My lovely hair. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. Do I have to?’

Nigel nodded. ‘If you want to get down the street alive.’

Half an hour later and shorn of her golden locks Gina took one last look at herself with a trembling lip. ‘How do I look?’

‘Fabulous - as always.’

‘Do I? You wouldn’t lie to me, would you Nige?’ Gina squinted at her reflection. ‘What about just a hint of lippy for old time’s sake?’

‘I think not, pet,’ said Nigel gently easing the lipstick from Gina’s fingers. ‘Best to put all that behind you. For the time being at least.’

Sighing with resignation, Gina put on a brave smile. ‘It won’t be for long, will it? I’ll soon be my old self again, won’t I?’

‘Of course you will, darling,’ said Nigel patting the back of her hairy hand. ‘And if you don’t - well, they can perform marvels with electrolysis these days. Now, how about a drop of Dutch courage to help you face the music chez Clive’s parents?’ He moved towards the drinks cabinet. ‘Dry white wine is your tipple isn’t it?’

‘Thanks,’ said Gina wiping away a final tear with a tissue. Then she smacked her gloss-free lips thoughtfully. ‘Actually, I could murder a pint of Guinness.’

Gina’s meeting with Clive was every bit the disaster Nigel thought it would be. It lasted all of two minutes. Gina blundered into his parents’ home slobbering and throwing her arms around Clive’s neck. Clive recoiled with horror at the sight of this Colossus descending upon him and retreated hastily to his bedroom bolting the door shut behind him. Not that Clive’s parents were surprised. They had long suspected Gina of being a gold-digger and now they took the opportunity to make their feelings known. The marriage (they said) had been a sham. A man masquerading as a woman indeed! However did she think she would get away with it? And she needn’t think she was going to get a penny of Clive’s inheritance. If she wanted to pursue the matter in the courts she was welcome to try but it was obvious what the outcome would be. The marriage had no legitimacy in law. To save further embarrassment and to keep the story out of the newspapers Clive’s father wrote out a cheque for a generous sum. Once the dust settled the meeting ended reasonably amicably. A relieved Mrs Brocklebank even managed a smile as she saw Gina out and wished her good luck in her new life.

Actually, Gina did rather well in her new life. Drowning her sorrows in a bar off Soho Square, she was befriended by an ancient drag queen who turned out to be the madam of a brothel that specialized in services of the more exotic kind. Having experienced life on both sides of the fence, so to speak, Gina had a ready advantage over her competitors and soon she had a loyal following with enquiries from as far afield as San Francisco, Kanchou and Riyadh. She now lives in a spacious apartment in St John’s Wood and accepts only the most exclusive clientele.

Gina was still fond of Clive and out of nostalgia for what might have been she kept her married surname and masculinized her first name from Regina to Reginald - something old, something new. It was very nearly a marriage. As for flipping back to her former existence, after five years of fruitless waiting and watching, Gina at last became reconciled to her – or rather his – new identity. Naturally Reggie, as we must now think of him, has never revealed his former persona to his clients, but lately there have been one or two tell-tale signs. Nothing you could put your finger on, but if you look carefully you might just notice a marginally fuller bust, a slightly narrower waist, and a tell-tale lifting of the hips. Not that any of that would have made much difference to Reggie’s regulars.