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03 September 2016

Nochmen Tenenbaum (1911–?) army sergeant

Nochmen Tenenbaum served with distinction in the Polish Army in the early 1930s. He earned medals after saving several persons from drowning, and was promoted to sergeant.

A year later in 1936, after physical and psychological changes, and leaving the army, Tenenbaum, still in male clothing, arrived at a maternity home in Warsaw and requested a room, stating that he was about to give birth. A 4 kg child was born. The father was an artist.
  • “Nine-Pound Child Born to Ex-Soldier A Year after “he” Changed “his” Sex”. Daily Mail, 7 August 1936. Reprinted in George Ives (ed Paul Sieveking). Man Bites Man: The Scrapbook of an Edwardian Eccentric. Penguin Books, 1981: 41.
  • “Soldier Shocks Doctors, As He Becomes Mother”. Daily Mirror, 10 August 1936. Online.
The anti-sodomy laws in Poland had not been enforced since independence in 1918. They were officially repealed in 1932.

The Daily Mirror story contains the comment: “Although there are many authentic cases of sex changes on record, this is believed to be the first time in the history of medical science that the metamorphosis was so complete that reproduction was possible”.   This in 1936!

Most likely, Tenenbaum was female-born, had transitioned (without hormones, which was the only option at the time) in order to serve in the army, but had been sexually compromised and become pregnant. We know nothing of him after 1936.

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