The Case of the Missing Princess in the Land of Oz

| Jan 13, 2020
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How many of you found early validation of your identity in comics or other forms of fantasy and science fiction? I know that I did.

Let’s turn the clock back to 1969, when I was ten. I didn’t even know that the words transgender or transsexual (the more common term then) existed. All I knew was that at least since the first day or kindergarten, I had felt different. I never felt like one of the boys. I hated recess and sports and pretending to be tough. I was so happy for the rare rainy days I could stay inside and read.

Reading had been part of my life forever. My mother told me she couldn’t have stopped me from reading even if she had wanted to. I was reading the backs of cereal boxes, and I apparently upset my first teachers when I came to school already knowing how to read. (What would they do with me otherwise?)

Those of you of a certain age may remember the Scholastic Books newsletter. I eagerly looked forward to the opportunity to spend the dimes and quarters I had carefully saved on a stack of books I could call my own.

On one of these orders, I sent for The Marvelous Land of Oz, L. Fran Baum’s sequel to The Wizard of Oz. My reasons for the selection have been lost to fifty years of time. I had never read the original book, but the yearly showings of the movie on CBS was a family ritual.

Princess Ozma

I remember diving into the book and finding the protagonist to be a boy named Tip. He meets up with the Scarecrow and the Tin Man on his quest, but also picks up some new companions, including Jack Pumpkinhead and a queer creature called the Gump. The central question everyone is seeking to answer is what happened to Princess Ozma, the rightful ruler of Oz, who disappeared as a baby?

Well, it turns out Ozma was among them all along, magically enchanted. The Wizard had kidnapped her and turned her over to an evil witch, who had, of all things, turned her into a boy.

Tip didn’t take the news that he was really a girl and a princess too well at first. But it didn’t take him long to become reconciled to the idea and consent to the evil witch returning Tip to her true form. I can still almost recite the next paragraph by heart:

“Glinda walked to the canopy and parted the silken hangings. Then she bent over the cushions, reached out her hand, and from the couch arose the form of a young girl, fresh and beautiful as a May morning. Her eyes sparkled as two diamonds, and her lips were tinted like a tourmaline. All down her back floated tresses of ruddy gold, with a slender jeweled circlet confining them at the brow. Her robes of silken gauze floated around her like a cloud, and dainty satin slippers shod her feet.”

Wow, I thought, wow. That lucky kid. What I wouldn’t give to be in her shoes (or satin slippers).

This was about the time I can remember going to sleep every night and praying I’d wake up a girl, something that continued long after I realized that if there was a God, She wasn’t a wish granting fairy. I thought Tip’s story was only a wonderful fantasy…until a few years later.  But that’s another story.

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Claire H.

About the Author ()

Claire Hall was born and grew up in a large city on the left coast and has spent most of her adult years in a beautiful small coastal community where she's now an elected official in local government after spending many years as a newspaper and radio reporter. In her space time she loves reading, writing fiction (her first novel was published by a regional press a couple of years ago), watching classic Hollywood movies, and walking.

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