Was One of the Bond Girls Really Formerly a Man?

Brenda asks: Did one of the Bond girls really used to be a man?

That depends on how you define “man” and “Bond girl”.  If you define “man” as a person who was born with a penis and “Bond girl” as any eye candy female that appeared in a Bond movie at any point, then yes- one of the Bond girls, or at least one of the women shown in a Bond movie (not a main character by any stretch), was born a man.  If you define “man” as someone born with an XY chromosome pattern, rather than XX, like a typical woman, then no.

You see, the woman in question, actress and model Caroline Cossey, born Barry Kenneth Cossey, was born with something known as Klinefelter Syndrome, which means she has an XXY chromosome pattern with 47 chromosomes, instead of 46.  This is a condition that occurs in about 1 in every 500-1000 male births (and significantly more rarely occurs in females).  This makes it one of the most common chromosome abnormalities known to man.

Some of the common side effects of this are low testosterone levels compared to most males, wider hips, less muscle mass, possible breasts (in about 1/3 of the cases), generally infertile, and significantly less body and facial hair, among other things.

Now, traditionally those with Klinefelter Syndrome have been called “XXY males”, to distinguish them from “normal” XY males.  However, in the International Journal of Andrology published in 2011,various researchers from several Australian medical institutes proposed in a paper,  Thinking Outside the Square: Considering Gender in Klinefelter Syndrome, that some XXY “males” should actually be called XXY “females” and others simply intersex.

The specific point of the paper was that perhaps Klinefelter Syndrome should be detached from “XXY”. Most with this condition are clearly male and identify as such, but a small percentage seem to be female, and thus typical treatment for Klinefelter Syndrome, including being given testosterone starting during puberty, may be damaging psychologically as it would make the person’s body more male-like, when in fact they were female.  As these treatments preferably start at a very young age, the child may not be in a position to assert this one way or the other.  (In another study, there was even a case where the researchers came across a rare XXY female (born with a vagina), who since childhood had always thought of herself as a male and demonstrated stereotypical male-like tendencies from the beginning.)

Barry Cossey at the age of 16 before beginning hormone treatment.

While Cossey was indeed born with a penis, throughout her youth she was extremely feminine in personality, looks, and personal preference tendencies, which often resulted in her getting bullied at school.  She was also frequently mistaken for a girl by those who didn’t know her. (You can see in the picture to the right just how feminine she looked as a teen.)  From this, if you buy into the medical researchers’ argument proposed in their paper, we’d perhaps say that Cossey was one of those XXY’ers who, while born with a penis, was actually an XXY female.

In her late teens, after dropping out of school and working a few odd jobs, she became friends with a transsexual and at that point, at the age of 17, started hormone therapy.  She also started working as a showgirl and later, after breast surgery, as a topless dancer.  Once she’d saved up enough to be able to pay for sex reassignment surgery, she had that done too with her final surgery in 1974.

She started modeling before her reassignment surgery and continued under the name “Tula” after with a lot of success, appearing in numerous magazines, including some adult magazines where she’d pose topless.  She later even appeared in a 1981 edition of Playboy.  She also would have started a role as a model in a game show in 1978, but she quit the show when a journalist discovered she was born with a penis and was going to break the story.

Unfortunately, her career was severely stunted from this as she had to try to keep a low profile to keep her secret from being published.  This all ended in 1981 when she appeared in the Bond, For Your Eyes Only, film and the story broke, for a time being front page news.  The aftermath of this was initially devastating to Cossey who was sure her career as a model was over, but eventually she moved on and continued modeling, as well as writing two autobiographies, the second of which, My Story was written in 1992.  She’s today married to Canadian David Finch; the two recently celebrated their 20th anniversary.

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  • Jake

    That’s interesting. Odd but interesting none the less as I really didn’t think that was possible.

  • PatrickLA

    My brother had it and was feminine. He also died of Aids in ’93. He never felt right with women. But really, who cares? She is pretty!

  • Al

    This was a big story back in 1981. I remember when it broke – AFTER a large number of publicity images of Cossey in a bikini were circulated. I’m sure she’s not the only one to be this successful, but I’ve always considered her the most successful sex-change subject because, you see her interviewed or modelling, and there’s literally no way you can tell. Today I’m sure the surgery has advanced so this is true of most people who do it, but remember this was more than 30 years ago. Always wondered what happened to her.

  • Ya learn something new every day, or so they say lol. She is very attractive. I’m curious though, why does the media feel the need to report this? It could put her in danger.

  • Bub

    Leave her alone. Media trash…

  • Zoe

    She is so beautiful. It is just so sad that years after the same shizz is still happening to so many transsexual people out there. May we all evolve emotionally faster.

  • Stevekok

    Klinefelter syndrome?
    Haha
    I call that Chinaman syndrome

  • evagoblin

    Stevekok, please do not use chinaman to a Chinese or even Asian person, it’s as offensive as calling a Jew a kike, Hispanic, a wetback, an African American, a nigger, an Irish man a mick, an Italian, a wop and last hopefully and least a Polish person, a Polak.. The history of it is very negative, there was a saying having a Chinaman’s chance which means having NO chance.

    BTW. does anyone else think she looks like Catherine Zeta Jones.

    • Emmy

      Thank you evagoblin. It’s nice to know that there are still people out there that is sensitive to other people’s feelings on the Internet =)

    • Sammi

      It is also not nice to call people retarded. People in the disability world find it offensive. So does their family.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    “So was one of the Bond girls actually a man? Well, as you see from the above, it’s up for debate.”

    Actually, no, it is not. Not in the slightest. If she identifies as a woman then that is what she is, period, end of story. Way to misgender someone for a few extra pageviews dillhole.

    • elric999

      Penny Marie, your comment is ridiculous and ignorant. There are three different criteria for considering whether an individual is male or female — genetic, physiological, and psychological — and the article discusses all three to some degree. Genetically, Ms. Cossey would be considered neither/both/other depending on the classification system. Physiologically, she was male, but due to chemical and physical modification, now presents as female. Both of these MUST be considered and acknowledged, as they are critically important to how she is treated by medical personnel. Psychologically, it appears that she used to be conflicted, but is now solidly female. This should determine how she is treated in every other respect.

  • H

    ““So was one of the Bond girls actually a man? Well, as you see from the above, it’s up for debate.”
    Actually, no, it is not. Not in the slightest. If she identifies as a woman then that is what she is, period, end of story. Way to misgender someone for a few extra pageviews dillhole.”

    They mean:
    1.) It’s debatable whether she was a Bond Girl.
    2.) It’s debatable whether she was a man — wasn’t she “really” always a woman, just a woman born with a syndrome?

  • Cassandra Grindall

    This is an entirely offensive article. She isn’t ACTUALLY a man, she may have been born male, but I think you just took a big gulp full of stupid and just came out as a bunch of Transphobic losers. You BLEW it.

    • No agenda, just truth

      Yea she was always genetically more female anyway, as in XXX-XXY , so dunno what is the big deal that the decision was made that she be a gal full out. I think guys forget that fact, that underneath it all they are women by a predominance of genetic markers. Those are the facts, all fetuses start out female, until the 3rd month when Y chromo causes gender other than female.

  • anonymous

    You can say what you want but it is a guy if it was born with a penis and had to have hormons and breast implants and its penis cut off to look like a female … stupid homo’s trying to justify a sex change plain and simple

  • Marilyn

    I am Irish and I and my Irish friends always refer to ourselves as “Micks.”

    • Brian

      You must not have been raised in Ireland because we don’t call ourselves micks. We’re paddies and proud 🙂

  • r

    She’s not a man she’s a fucking woman

  • pignut

    I wonder if casting was aware of his sexual history or if they naturally assumed he was a she because of appearance? What would Ian Fleming have thought? I am certainly saddened and disgusted at hearing this and can only imagine that Cossey conned his way into the casting as is so typical behavior of this type of person…

    • Jared

      Why would casting need to know anything about her history? How did she ‘con’ anyone? She was an extra in a Bond film used precisely for her looks and body, not for any other reason. Movies are all about illusion anyway, so I really can’t see your problem. You may be disgusted to know that Bond is a fictional character, sorry.

  • Logic

    A person’s gender should be determined by their mind, instead of their body. The body doesn’t make who a person is, it is the mind that defines the “self”.

  • JJR

    It dosent matter what sex she is, she is a person who lives and works like most of us. So she is pretty and lives as a female and was lucky to be in a Bond film and whatever else she worked or modeled in. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but sadly we are all taught to judge a book by its cover its called Marketing. Lets see her and others for who they really are and what they do than just the surface.

  • TERRY

    So that means David Finch is a homosexual.

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  • One of the Bond girls, or at least one of the women shown in a Bond movie (not a main character by any stretch), was born a man.
    So Caroline Cossey was born in a post-pubertal male body, was she? Wow, that’s some precocious puberty!

  • BrontoOnPluto

    wrong david finch. not the comic book guy, a different guy with the same name.
    hope it helps!

    • Daven Hiskey

      @BrontoOnPluto: Good catch! Thanks 🙂

  • Kina

    God doesn’t make mistakes. He can live as a woman but he is still a man …. period . Not hating just speaking facts. Ask yourself if she murdered someone and they were looking for a man but she lives as a women …then what? Just a thought DNA is still Male. Good day be blessed.

    • Kaya

      Technically, Kina – Cossey is neither/both. Her chromosomes read XXY. That’s both. A “normal” male is XY, a “normal” female is XX. Cossey’s DNA is XXY – neither male nor female, but male AND female. Even as a teenager the article states she could “pass” for either male or female, before any surgeries, which is usually referred to androgynous (“andro” coming from the Greek word for “man” and “gyne” from the Greek word for “woman”) – generally used when a person has feminine and masculine characteristics, or doesn’t clearly present as one or the other, like David Bowie and Sinead O’Conner, among others who popularized the androgynous look in the ’80’s.

      I suggest you re-read the article – particularly the part about Cossey’s chromosomes being XXY, and how relatively *common* it is in male births. Then do some research, maybe check out the references.

    • Kaya

      As for the “murder suspect” scenario – if all they had was DNA evidence, they’d have DNA that showed it’s an XXY person, with no way to know how said XXY person presented – as stated in the article, while it’s relatively common in people who present as male, it is possible (though rare) in a person who presents as a woman (vagina and everything!). Since Cossey’s DNA would show XXY, they’d have no way of knowing whether said person *looks like* a man or a woman. They may *assume* said suspect presents as male, because it’s more common – but you do know what happens when you assume, right?

      If they have video surveillance, or eyewitnesses, they’d know it’s a woman. So they’d look for a woman.

      And if they had DNA evidence AND video surveillance, they’d be able to narrow it down further.

      Just like DNA, by itself, can’t tell the cops whether their suspect is white, black or Chinese (or any variation thereof – not to mention whether the white suspect is German, Irish, Russian or any combination thereof). I do realize in *broad* strokes DNA can be telling, but to narrow down a single suspect’s heritage based on DNA would be almost impossible. Especially somewhere like the US, where people have come from all over the world (at one point or another) and mixed with others who also came to the US at a different time.

      It’s certainly no more difficult than “chimeras” – people whose (fraternal) twin died in the womb and was absorbed by the living child and said living child has one type of DNA in their saliva and another type in their blood.

      It’s certainly easier than trying to find a transsexual based solely on DNA evidence – XXY is a lot more distinctive.