Monday, January 08, 2007

Is Jaime Lee Curtis intersexed?

Perhaps, like me, you've heard the rumor that actress Jaime Lee Curtis was born intersexed (essentially synonymous with the term "hermaphrodite," i.e., born with the sex organs of both genders.) Perhaps like me, you've also dismissed such rumors as the product of overly active teenage imagination, based largely if not entirely on the fact that JLC looks a little masculine and has a husky voice.

But wait.

I set out this afternoon to definitely prove to my girlfriend that JLC is not intersexed, and found the question is a little more tricky than I expected.

First, here's what some googling has revealed: despite rumors to the contrary, JLC never admitted to being intersexed on a television talk show. At the same time, technically she's never denied being intersexed at birth -- she simply refuses to address the subject. This is hardly evidence of being intersexed, of course -- it's possible JLC doesn't want to add fuel to the fire of the rumor -- but it doesn't definitively resolve the question either.

Second, one apparent reason people think she's intersexed is her ambiguous, Pat-like name: Jaime Lee. But according to (an internet rumor site), JLC's mother, the actress Janet Leigh named JLC before she was born:

At that time, we didn't know ahead of time if it would be a girl or a boy, so when I was pregnant with Kelly, my best friend Jackie Gershwin said, "Why don't you call the baby Kelly, so if it's a girl, it works, and if it's a boy, it works?" And she thought the same thing with Jamie. The babies were named before they were born because Jackie said, "This way, we won't have to worry about it!"

Sounds logical enough. The fact that JLC's sister, Kelly Lee, also has an ambiguous name -- though slightly less so -- adds credence to the story. So there's not much here, either.

But consider this: JLC has never had children -- but she has adopted multiple babies. This is hardly evidence of being intersexed, of course, but it is a little strange: although 4% of American woman adopt a child sometime in their lifetime, it is much, much rarer for a fertile woman to adopt one or more children yet never give birth on her own. So JLC is definitely an aberration on this front.

Perhaps most interesting is reading how various websites treat the subject of this rumor -- even when they are "pro" Jaime Lee Curtis. Take the website "Snopes" -- the author of the article on JLC, Barbara Mikkelson, describes the whispers about JLC's intersexed birth as "A rumor, apparently. And not a very nice one," and later goes on to say that "Numerous children come into the world less than perfectly formed . . .

Woah, lady. Just because someone is born intersexed doesn't mean they are "less than perfectly informed." Nor is it particularly pernicious to speculate about JLC's intersexuality at birth; I suspect many intersexed or formerly intersexed persons would feel quite proud if JLC considered herself one of them, given her successful acting career and sexy image. (Well, sexy to some, I suppose -- I never got into her. Too manly.) And I have about 0% tolerance for people who want to protect the privacy of celebrities, who voluntarily put themselves in the public spotlight and get paid millions for it.

So, was JLC born intersexed? Probably not -- but we don't know for sure.


Anonymous jimmimoose said...

this is...the strangest post ever on your blog, benji....

9:56 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Trying to mix it up a bit. Up next: the veracity behind the Richard Gere gerbil rumors...

11:50 AM  
Anonymous jimmimoose said...

i look forward to it with eagerness.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Jimmimoose!!! Surely a subject worth similar investigation

12:41 AM  

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