Somehow the media became interested in the story of an Albanian woman who became the man of her family. No, this is not about sex surgery. But it is about the ways in which we think of men and women, and the arrangements in our societies around this. The New York Times (and then many others) ran a story about an Albanian woman, now in her 80s, who has taken the alpha-male role in her family: she gave up her woman lifestyle, took on male clothes, sworn herself to virginity (unclear why, as someone pointed out to me today, 'real men' are not expected to do this...) and became the head of the family. From that moment on, she was accepted by everyone as a man (except for this virginity thing, I know), since - says the story - this is an old custom in Albanian communities.
I have read of a species of fish where there's only one male per flight, but if he dies, the alpha female changes her sex and becomes male. Trying to figure out where I got this info from, I ran across a lot of other interesting stuff about sex changes in fish. Now, I've said it again, I know we are not fish, but I think it is interesting that we tend to ignore this information and regard any transgression of our 'given' biological sex (we assume it is a given, and there's no doubt about it) as an anomaly. I wonder how would we think of men and women - and those who do not comfortably fit in these two labels - if we would adopt a different viewpoint.