He is said to have been born in Dublin as a girl, named Margaret Ann Bulkley, and raised as a boy. His mother was the sister of the painter James Barry. Other sources state that he was raised as a boy and was possibly a genetic male with Klinefelter's syndrome.
The novel James Miranda Barry by Patricia Dunkley is a fictionalised account of Barry's life.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8364465.stm#margaret "Five British heroes overlooked by history", BBC News 17 November 2009
- P R Kirby , "Dr James Barry, Controversial South African medical figure", South African Medical Journal 25 April 1970. Quoted in Vern L Bullough, Sex, Society and History, New York: Science History Publications, 1976. Chapter on "Transsexualism in History"