A feminist who battled to become the first ever woman gondolier in Venice, Italy, is undergoing sex-change surgery to become a man.
Alexandra Hai, 50, (pictured) fought for a decade to break into the male-dominated guild of gondoliers, which had not employed a woman in 900 years. During that time she failed the gondola test three times and was also fined once by police for illegal gondoliering, leading to accusations of discrimination. In 2007 she was granted the right to become a private gondolier.
Now known as Alex, he revealed this week that he is Venice’s first transgender gondolier, writing: “I myself am not a woman, and the struggle of feminism is not my personal struggle.”
Interviewed by American radio show Radiolab, Alex also said that he was having sex-change surgery in San Francisco.
The German-born gondolier told the show he had always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, had destroyed Barbie dolls as a child, and “prayed for a penis.”.
Having been rejected by his parents, he ran away from Hamburg aged 15.
Showing that even members of the trans community can be guilty of sexism, the radio show apparently reported that Mr Hai had said of gondoliering: “I don’t think a real woman could do this job.”
He later corrected himself, posting on Facebook this week: “I am supportive of equal rights for women, and feel that as someone who mastered the craft of rowing while in the body of a woman, I have proved that ‘Yes, even a girl can do it’.”