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Dr. Alvin Felman emailed the UK group (April 2000) saying, "The following is a brief summary of my novel, "A Better Man than I", about which I wrote you several weeks ago. The novel is essentially completed except for final editing":
It concerns a woman who was born with incomplete AIS. In infancy the child was determined to have XY karyotype, no internal female organs, hernias which contained rudimentary testes, a patent but shortened vagina, and some phallic material. The parents were advised to have the phallic material and the testes removed and the child raised as a girl.
She enters medical school where she meets a man in her class who becomes a friend and study mate. In addition, she is sexually assaulted by several faculty members. In the second year of school, she meets and falls in love with a veterinary student and he proposes marriage. She divulges her clinical syndrome, assures him that she can have sexual intercourse, but his family prevents the marriage on the grounds that she is actually of the male gender.
Despondent, she leaves medical school in the middle of her second year and works around at odd jobs, when a friend convinces her to return to school. She does this and graduates as a physician. At this time her friend and classmate proposes marriage. She puts him off in order to get away and try to find the answers to some personal questions, the most important of which concerns some of her desires to change her gender back to male.
She goes off to Wyoming and stays with a girlhood companion while she assumes a male persona. In the course of this visit, she accompanies her friend to a boxing gym where her friend is a member and does the boxers exercises and light sparring, but does not compete in actual fights. The woman, now masquerading as a man, joins the gym and begins working out with her girl friend. They engage in light sparring in the gym boxing ring. During these workouts, the girlfriend is harassed by one of the boxers who becomes abrasive and insulting. He challenges the woman-man friend of the girl to a fight in the gym. Although actually a woman and not an experienced boxer, she nevertheless accepts the challenge, and a fight is scheduled.
During the fight, the woman is getting beaten and between the second and third round, her coach discovers that she is in fact a woman and is fighting without breast protectors, which is one of the reasons she is loosing the fight. The coach wants to stop the fight but she wants to continue because she does not want to back down again from a challenge. The coach agrees and, although severely beaten, she finishes the fight and proves several things to herself. 1. She does not want to be a man, given the ways they settle disputes, among other things, 2. She has found, as a result of the boxing match, that she is able to face adversity and not run, as she had in the past. 3. She feels now that she left her hang-ups and bitterness in the boxing ring and wants to live her life as best she can with the abilities that she has. She finds during her sabbatical that she is able to at least engage in intercourse.
She returns to her friend in medical school, confesses that she had doubts about marrying him earlier because she thought he was merely being sympathetic. He assures her that that is not the case, that he truly loves her for what she is and the two have sex with the intent to marry.
Alvin H. Felman MD
Other books that I have published: 1) From the Ends of the Earth, 2) The Measure of Our Torment and 3) You are Your Body's Keeper.