Dateline 1855: Lightning Strike Sparks Sex Change

Dateline 1855: Lightning Strike Sparks Sex Change

crackaboomLong before radioactive waste gave people superpowers, folks depended on good ol’ lightning for high weirdness.

On August 18, 1855, the respected Argus and Democrat reposted a remarkable story from the Courrier de l’Eure.

zapSingular Phenomenon – Change of Sex

A recent number of the Courrier de l’Eure contains the following marvelous piece of intelligence.


A singular phenomenon occurred in Neaufles at the close of the thunderstorm on Wednesday last. The lightning struck a little girl about seven years of age, completely changing her sex, and transforming her into a little boy. The lightning did not strike the child, but reached her by what is termed a return shock, which will explain why his or her body exhibits no burns or scars.

An observer who devotes his attention to electric phenomena, writes us, in connection with this fact, that he was ascertained by means of an electroscope made of gold leaf, that the clouds from which the storm of the 13th inst. burst forth, were charged with negative or resinous electricity. Consequently, the child at that time must have been charged with positive or virtrenous electricity. But this phenomenon which appears so extraordinary, and which we never should have dared insert in our columns, had not reliable persons vouched for its authenticity is not without parallel.

Most lightning is negatively charged, with positively charged bolts comprising 5% of all lightning strikes. Many people who have been on the business end of divine wrath claim newfound talents, being able to detect storms or ‘feel’ lightning1 before it strikes. An orthopedic surgeon, Anthony Cicoria, was struck by lightning in 1994, which precipitated a near-death experience, bestowing musical talent upon him.2

But this is the first known instance of anyone’s gender being swapped by a lightning bolt.

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