Cath Nichols

Phantom 1: Limb?

The phantom limb offers a body
that believes in its absent part,
a draft of physicality,
an itch beneath the skin that knows.
Each embryo begins proto-female
pushes a way towards
something over which a doctor might say,
‘It’s a girl,’
‘It’s a boy,’
‘It …’ (ch)


20th Century Interlude: A Self-made Man

In 1946 Dr Dillon published his findings.
Dillon embodied author/ity: a doctor and a writer
but was a man born female. He came from money,

helpful when the rest is stacked against you,
went to a women’s college then had his records changed
so he could enter med school as Michael.

Dillon marked off the observed sex of bodies
from the sex that was self-knowledge;
levered both away from sexual desire. A new

discussion opened (in some quarters). Westphal’s
inverts were gone, Freud’s repressions, gone.
Finally, a new term: transsexual. A crossing.


cath-picCath Nichols was a queer journalist and radio broadcaster in the 90s and has also worked as a waitress, artist’s model, support worker, poetry events’ co-ordinator and a lecturer in Creative Writing. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her publications are My Glamorous Assistant (Headland, 2007), Tales of Boy Nancy & Distance (erbacce, 2013), and the forthcoming This is Not a Stunt (2017, Valley Press). She lives near Liverpool (UK).

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