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A 1647 FTM transgender miracle recorded in “Strange Tales of Liaozhai”?
The “Changing into a Man” incident was said to have occurred in Suzhou
Hua Nan (“Changing into a Man”) is one of the stories collected by Pu Songling in Liaozhai Zhiyi (translated into English as “Strange Tales of Liaozhai” or “Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio”):
In Suzhou Prefecture’s Mudu Town, a woman from a commoner family was sitting in eir courtyard when a meteorite suddenly struck eir skull. E fell to the ground and died. Eir parents had no sons. This daughter was their only child. With great urgency, they cried out sorrowfully for help. After some time, e started to return to consciousness. E said smiling, “I am now a man!”
This claim was verified with an examination. Eir family did not regard em as a freak but secretly rejoiced at gaining a man-child. This took place in the Dinghai year.
When exactly did this happen? The Dinghai year is one of the years in the sexagenary cycle. It occurs every 60 years. The question is which Dinghai year? Liaozhai was completed in 1706. The closest Dinghai year before 1706 would be 1647.
Did this really happen? Pu Songling collected stories by engaging many people in conversation. Some of these tales are clearly fictional, such as the supernatural fox spirit folktales that inspired so many Liaozhai films. Others are anecdotes allegedly drawn from real life, often with a tabloid flavor.
There is speculation that the protagonist in this story was an intersex person who was assigned female at birth but developed male genitalia in adolescence. In the present day, this has been documented among multiple children in the Dominican Republic, due to a condition known as 5α-reductase deficiency.
But back to explaining the incident in 17th century China. In an opinion piece, Zhang Changguo speculates the transmasculine person and their parents might have come up with this story of miraculous gender re-assignment to ease their coming out into society as a male.
How likely is it for the protagonist to be hit by a meteorite on the head and survive?
Zhang Changguo was of the opinion that this was impossible. You can make up your own mind:
There seems to be only one documented incident of a human surviving a meteorite hit in the age of photography, and the rock did hit something else first before bouncing off and hitting her, which could have reduced its impact. ( For the Only Person Ever Hit by a Meteorite, the Real Trouble Began Later | Smart News| Smithsonian Magazine )
Recorded history provides evidence of possible meteorite deaths through the ages, including incidents in 14th century China and the 19th century Ottoman Empire: Seven times people were killed by meteorites | Astronomy.com
Is there print translation of this story?
This rather brief tale has not been found it in any of the curated modern Chinese published print collections of Liaozhai tales that we have read so far. It should be noted that due to the sheer number of Liaozhai tales, not all of them are included in modern Chinese or English translations of the original classical Chinese text. (Just in case you pick up a modern print edition of the Liaozhai stories and can’t find the queer tale that you are looking for)
The original Chinese text of Hua Nan can be found here: (and at multiple other locations on the Chinese internet)