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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 07, 1952, Image 25

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Changes in Sex Not Unusual; Many Keep Secret, Doctors Say
By Alton Blakeslee
Associated Press Science Editor
DENVER, Dec. 6.—The Ameri
can ex-GI who changed in sex
from man to woman does not
walk alone in the mysteryland of
human sex.
There are perhaps thousands of
Americans living in doubt or
(Editor's Note: An astonishing story
was the disclosure in New York and
Copenhagen this week that an American
ex-GI had undergone medical and sur
gical treatments to change into a girl.;
Alton Blakeslee, covering the American
Medical Association convention in Den
ver, interviewed medical and urologist
specialists for this interesting story.)
ignorance about their true sex.
Some are men who really are
women. Some are women who
really are men. Some are living
contented lives, often in marriage.
Others live in a hell of mental
torture and doubt and fear.
Actually, all humans begin life
with double sex. Very early, be
fore we are born, we become
either clearly male or female.
But sometimes the mysterious
controls over sex go awry, and a
baby is bora who sexually is part
male, part female; These are
called pseudo - hermaphrodites.
Very rarely, individuals are born
who are "true hermaphrodies.”
possessing the external and in
ternal organs of both sexes.
One medical specialist. Dr. El
mer Hess of Erie, Pa., estimates
there are 2,000 to 3,009 pseudo
hermaphrodites—on the borderline
in sex—in this country.
A famous urologist, the late Dr.
Hugh Young of Baltimore, once
said perhaps one in every 1,000
persons is born a pseudo-herma
phrodits. If that statistic is cor
rect, some 150,000 Americans
started life with doubt or error
over their true sex.
Some take action early to have
the question decided. Others may
not act for years, perhaps not
until doubts arise.
Today in Copenhagen, golden
haired Christine Jorgensen, 26, is
living a new life as a woman. Only
two years ago she was George Jor
gensen. jr.. a soldier serving at
Fort Dix, N. J.
Medical and surgical treatments
brought her transformation to a
woman, correcting what Miss Jor
gensen called a mistake by nature.
Case of Scottish Doctor.
A few months ago, in Aberdeen,
Scotland, Dr. Ewan Forbes-Semp
hill announced his change to liv
ing as a man, after 40 years of
being a woman—Dr. Elizabeth
Forbes-Semphill. He married his
In New Jersey a few years ago,
a 33-year-old woman, a success in
business, became a man. She was
found to be predominatly male in
sex. and by surgery was changed
to live as a man.
It is rare for news of these
changes to become public. Patients
often keep it a secret, and take up
a new life in another city.
Many persons with the border
line sex never consult doctors.
They even can be unaware that
there is anything unusual—they
6imply accept the verdict—given
at birth—that they were boy or
girl. Sometimes, parents fail toj
tell their child when a doctor has
told the parents the child is partly
o.f both sexes, said Dr. Hess, who is
Immediate past president of the
American Urological Association.
In 45 years’ practice. Dr. Hess
has treated about 30 pseudo
hermaphrodites. Another doctor in
20 years said he has seen only one.
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The double-sex conditions traces
way back into human histoi-y. The
name hermaphrodite comes from
Greek mythology. The gods Aphro
dite and Hermes had an extraor
dinary child, endowed with at
tributes of both mother and
father. Unable to tell the sex, they
combined their names, calling the
child Hermaphrodite.
There are other legends. Some
times the hermaphrodite was
considered a God. The early Ro
mans felt the double-sexed per
sons were bad luck, and sentenced
them to death.
The mystery of double-sex is
tied in with the mystery of human
reproduction. The baby
from a single egg of his mother,
after it is united with a sperm
cell from his father.
In the first weeks of his growth,
the unborn baby or embryo shows
no sign of becoming either male
or female. There is a complete
system of ducts to make the baby
male, another complete system to
make it female.
But then one system withers,
and the other develops and pre
dominates. This choice apparent
ly is determined by genes and by
the gonads or sex glands. In the
male, the gonads are the testes,
which make the sperms for new
life. In the female, the gonads
are the ovaries, the storehouses
of eggs for new life.
All Are Bi-Sexual.
In reality, all humans. remain
somewhat bi-sexual. The male
has some vestigial female sex
organs, the female some vestigial
male organs. Both men and
women produce both male and fe
male sex hormones. The male has
a preponderance of male hor
mones, the female of female hor
In the early de\ elopment of the
unborn baby, things can go wrong
so there is no clear-cut prepon
derance to make the baby clearly
a male or a female. The child
may have organs of both sexes.
The true hermaphrodite has a
complete set of both organs, in
ternal and external ones. But in
stead of two gonads or glands of
one sex, he has one of each—one
testis and one ovary.
There are only about 20-odd
proven cases in the world of such
complete sex mix-up. Reviewing
them once. Dr. Young said the
emotions and sexual interest of
these people almost always de
pended upon whether they had
been reared as boy or girl.
One true hermaphrodite was
i said to have had sex relations with
| both sexes.
Far more common is the pseu
do-hermaphrodite. This person
j has the sex glands of only one sex.
| That is, the two male glands, the
testes which may be hidden or
: only partly formed, or the two
female glands, the ovaries.
Compromise Development.
But the external organs are
neither completely one way or the
other. The development can be
; a compromise. Secondary sex
characteristics, such as face hair
i or breasts or body contours, may
j be those of the opposite sex.
Whether such a person is truly
male or female depends upon
whether he has male sex glands
or female. Sometimes an explor
atory operation is needed to learn
The pseudo-hermaphrodite is
usually really a male. Dr. Hess
said. The external organs may
greatly 'resemble those of a;
And the person who is really a'
female may have some external <
appearances of a man.
Surgery can correct this con
dition, in either way.
So a person reared as a girl
can be changed to be a man.
Often the man is able to marry
and have a satisfactory married
life. He may be able to become
a father.
If the glands are really those
of a female, the surgery can
change the "boy” or puzzled girl l ,
into a true female. It is very
unlikely that such a woman could!
have a baby. Dr. Hess said.
Much depends upon the degree
of mixed sex. There are many j
degrees of it.
Unusual Cases Told.
A book by Dr. Young tells of
some unusual cases.
One was declared a girl at birth 1 ,
and dressed as a girl. She was
attracted to girls, made love satis
factorily to girls. Despite this,
she married, and lived satisfac- 1
torily with her husband, though
deriving no pleasure herself from;
sex relations with him.
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When doctors discovered that
“she” was really a man, she re
fused surgery to make her more
completely a man. If she did be
jeome a man, she said, she would
raave to leave her husband and
Igo to work.
Another person changed from
boy to girl, then back to male.
One true hermaphrodite was a
young man, an athlete, who was
discovered to have the internal
organs of a woman and the ex
, ternal organs of a man. except for
one gonad (testis). The internal
organs were removed, along with
.other surgery. Some years later
: he was happily married.
; In another case, a young girl
had confusing signs of being boy
or girl. Her male-like organs were
I removed, leaving her with female
organs for life as a woman.
Dr. Hess tells of an 18-year-old
igirl who was changed to boy by
six surgical operations.
One mother, he said, became
angry and refused to have
"daughter” changed fully to a
boy, which he actually was.
A woman of 40, told that she:
was really a man, also refused;
surgery, preferring not to revamp!
Boy-Turned-Girl Rejects
Fabulous Show Offers
By the Auociatad Frau
COPENHAGEN. Denmark. Dec.
j 6.—Showmen in the United Btates
| and Europe have showered fabu
lous contract offers on Christine
! Jorgensen, the Bronx boy-tumed
• girl. She said today she is turn
ing them all down.
Christine, 26, is convalescing at
Copenhagen’s Rigs (State) Hos
pital from a series of operations
that changed her sex.
Most offers probably will remain
unanswered, Christine indicated.
She said the only thing she wants
is to be left alone.
her life as a woman and wife.
Some persons suffer from a dif
ferent type of condition. They
are completely male, in every
way, but may become feminized
by too much female sex hormone.
This is often seen in men who are
receiving female hormones as
treatment for cancer of the pros
tate gland.
They even develop breasts which
lactate, or yield fluid.
Women sometimes show mascu
linizing effects, such as face hair
and other changes, from large
doses of male hormone. The same
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'Socrates' Died in 1786
BERLIN.—Moses Mendelssohn.
German Jewish philosopher, was
known as “the German Socrates.”
He was born in 1729 and died in
1786. Felix Mendelssohn, the wed
ding-march composer, was his
virilizing changes may come from
hormone upsets due to tumors of
the adrenal glands or of the
ovaries. These changes revert to
normal when the tumor is re
For those bom with doubtful
sex, much can be done by surgery
and other treatments.
It is important, says Dr. Hess,
for the doctor attending a birth
to make sure of the real sex of
the child. If there is doubt,
measures can be taken early in
life to prevent much heartache
about borderline sex.
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