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#1
Old 06-28-2004, 12:29 AM
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Jamie Lee Curtis = Hermaphrodite (sort of)

Since the inception of my education, it has long been scientific gossip that Jamie Lee Curtis is not what she seems. I first heard this assertion from my AP Biology teacher. When studying human genetics, we learned of the difference between "genotype" and "phenotype" - and that Ms. Curtis was an example of a mismatch between them. Ostensibly, she is genotypically XY, but oddly enough is phenotypically female. The rumor was furthered by professors and peers alike in medical school, which only seemed to add veracity to the hypothesis.

Perusing Snopes.com a while back has long since made me laugh at this claim, but a colleague recently offered an explanation that fits the legend well: perhaps she has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. The gist of the disorder is that there is a mutation in the androgen receptor so that, despite normal hormone levels, no cells can respond to male hormones during sexual development. She would appear normally female, with the exception of having no uterus/fallopian tubes/cervix, as well as having little axillary or pubic hair.

I think Science is best used when it serves to offer a hypothetical explanation for a question that doesn't need answering.

So in this light (and I must stress that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this claim) - the rumor remains both (a) plausible, and (b) completely beyond proof, at least without some serious HIPAA violations - which is right where I like my Urban Legends.
#2
Old 06-28-2004, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
Since the inception of my education, it has long been scientific gossip that Jamie Lee Curtis is not what she seems. I first heard this assertion from my AP Biology teacher. When studying human genetics, we learned of the difference between "genotype" and "phenotype" - and that Ms. Curtis was an example of a mismatch between them. Ostensibly, she is genotypically XY, but oddly enough is phenotypically female. The rumor was furthered by professors and peers alike in medical school, which only seemed to add veracity to the hypothesis.
It has long been speculated that Jamie Lee Curtis has AIS. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, only conjecture (and one person who claims to know someone who saw medical records proving it -- which is about as reliable as the WMD evidence against Iraq). The Snopes page which you've already seen is pretty thorough.

This all leads us to the real point: It is not nice to spread unfounded scurrilous rumors about people. The only reason this silly rumor persists is because people continue to spread it despite there being absolutely no proof for it whatsoever. The rumor has been a continual source of annoyance for Ms. Curtis, who is, by all accounts, actually a very pleasant woman who doesn't deserve to have to deal with this sort of nonsense. Why can't you just leave her alone, eh?
#3
Old 06-28-2004, 12:50 AM
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And you're bringing this up...why exactly Limbic?

BTW, "hermaphrodite" is a fairly insulting word. Try "intersexed" if you should have the bizarre compulsion to discuss this ever again.

And leave Lady Haden-Guest out of it.
#4
Old 06-28-2004, 05:58 AM
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Not to mention that this was covered extensively in at least one thread on intersexed issues here on the Dope. Granted the search engine isn't perfect, but "Jamie Lee Curtis" will likely bring the relevant thread(s) up.
#5
Old 06-28-2004, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto
And you're bringing this up...why exactly Limbic?

BTW, "hermaphrodite" is a fairly insulting word. Try "intersexed" if you should have the bizarre compulsion to discuss this ever again.

And leave Lady Haden-Guest out of it.
Nevermind that "hermaphroditism" is a perfectly acceptable scientific term. Someone with AIS does indeed have both male (undescended testes) and female (external genitalia) features. One should just as easily be offended by being termed a "diabetic."

I bring it up only because it is a curiosity. I make no moral judgement about any alleged hermaphrodite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyM
This all leads us to the real point: It is not nice to spread unfounded scurrilous rumors about people. The only reason this silly rumor persists is because people continue to spread it despite there being absolutely no proof for it whatsoever. The rumor has been a continual source of annoyance for Ms. Curtis, who is, by all accounts, actually a very pleasant woman who doesn't deserve to have to deal with this sort of nonsense. Why can't you just leave her alone, eh?
Such is the price of celebrity. Or probably more importantly in her case, parental celebrity.
#6
Old 06-28-2004, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto
BTW, "hermaphrodite" is a fairly insulting word. Try "intersexed" if you should have the bizarre compulsion to discuss this ever again.
It is? Why? What's insulting about being called a blend of gods? As opposed to intersexed which sounds a lot more like a disease...or some part of a management restructuring plan.
#7
Old 06-28-2004, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
. . . it has long been scientific gossip that Jamie Lee Curtis is not what she seems.
She seems to be a very nice woman with a satisfying career and a happy family. I have no idea what her chromosomes or DNA are doing, but that doesn't alter any of the above.
#8
Old 06-28-2004, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
Such is the price of celebrity. Or probably more importantly in her case, parental celebrity.
It shouldn't be. If I were more motivated, I'd have already pitted you for perpetuating this ridiculous rumor.

Oh, and the term "hermaphrodite" is not used any longer within the medical or scientific community when discussing humans; its usage is now virtually entirely associated with porn. The current and correct term is "intersexed".

Also, technically, an individual with AIS did not qualify under the old definition for "hermaphrodite" (before it fell out of use). When correctly used, "hermaphrodite" applies only to a person with XX/XY mosaic genetics. The definition you are using is not, and never has been, the "scientific" definition of "hermaphrodite", at least as applied to humans. Roundworms, perhaps, but not people.
#9
Old 06-28-2004, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
Such is the price of celebrity.
Umm, no, actually, it isn't. If you insist on having the opinion that the private lives of celebrities are actually public knowledge (not necessarily a true opinion, but it seems to work for you), then the price of celebrity is that people have the right to know true things about her, not, as stated above, unfounded gossip and rumor. That's just mean and fights not ignorance.
#10
Old 06-28-2004, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betenoir
It is? Why? What's insulting about being called a blend of gods? As opposed to intersexed which sounds a lot more like a disease...or some part of a management restructuring plan.
Apparently many people to whom the word refers don't like it, and that seems like reason enough to refrain from using it. It's not the accepted medical term, either.

In common usage, "hermaphrodite" also suggests a person with some fully-developed male sexual characteristics and some fully-developed female sexual characteristics. Hermaphroditus was depicted in ancient art as having a penis like a man but breasts like a woman (like the "she-male" of modern porn), and for many people the word "hermaphrodite" seems to conjure up the image of a person with both a penis and a vagina. In reality, intersexed people have what is called "ambiguous genitalia", and many of them are probably sick of having others assume that they've got One From Column A and One From Column B.
#11
Old 06-28-2004, 11:11 AM
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Well, first off, aside from the public vs. private lives of celebrities, which I assume was brought up simply as an attack on the OP and was not seriously presented as a valid argument, let's look at the realistic nature of the claim.

Jamie Lee Curtis is possessed of some sort of genetic gender abnormality. I apologize if this isn't scientific or someone finds it an insulting way of presenting that, but I do it that way because I'm really no expert on the subject being discussed. Since she has been a film star for some 25 years or so, a sex symbol, and an all around famous lady, we can figure this probably isn't true.

The reason we can do this is the same reason I made my first statement. Regardless of your beliefs about respecting the privacy of celebrities, their privacy is not respected in the slightest, and there is a huge multi-million dollar celebrity privacy violation industry full of TV shows and publications devoted specifically to telling the avid American audience things they know they have no business knowing about celebrities. If there were a record of it, and someone knew about it, we would have seen it, especially with the urban legend making the rounds. Since they know what to look for, I'm sure they'd looked very hard and offered a great deal of money to a great many people to try and get the details.
#12
Old 06-28-2004, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
Nevermind that "hermaphroditism" is a perfectly acceptable scientific term. Someone with AIS does indeed have both male (undescended testes) and female (external genitalia) features. One should just as easily be offended by being termed a "diabetic."

I bring it up only because it is a curiosity. I make no moral judgement about any alleged hermaphrodite.



Such is the price of celebrity. Or probably more importantly in her case, parental celebrity.
(My bold in quote) Is it? I've been through nursing school where I took anatomy and physiology for medical students, as well as many other pre-med classes.
We were told then that it was not a medical term. We learned that there are two groups of anomolies that fall into that broad layman term. One is Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, the other is Ambiguous Genitalia Syndrome. Of course, that was nearly 40 years ago. I believe that the two terms have been combined since then. I admit, a lot can change in 40 years, and I don't have any clinical experience with OB/Gyn, or Urology, but I'd be surprised to learn of such a change in terminology.
#13
Old 06-28-2004, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyM
It shouldn't be. If I were more motivated, I'd have already pitted you for perpetuating this ridiculous rumor.

Oh, and the term "hermaphrodite" is not used any longer within the medical or scientific community when discussing humans; its usage is now virtually entirely associated with porn. The current and correct term is "intersexed".

Also, technically, an individual with AIS did not qualify under the old definition for "hermaphrodite" (before it fell out of use). When correctly used, "hermaphrodite" applies only to a person with XX/XY mosaic genetics. The definition you are using is not, and never has been, the "scientific" definition of "hermaphrodite", at least as applied to humans. Roundworms, perhaps, but not people.
First of all, to those who think I'm the least bit serious - I'm not. This particular sub-forum strikes me as a water-cooler of sorts. And no rational person would disagree that someone's genetic profile or medical history, regardless of their celebrity, is anyone's business but their own. Secondly, what does Ms. Curtis' being "pleasant" or "happy" have to do with anything? Thirdly, having not lurked nearly as long as I should have - what is this "pitting" you speak of - I've seen it used here and there, and I assume it's akin to nuking/gassing a thread?

Finally, let's at least get the science right. "Intersex" refers to all the different ambiguous genitalia syndromes, not to hermaphroditism, per se. There are 4 types of intersex anomalies: (1) Female pseudohermaphroditism, (2) True hermaphroditism, (3) Male pseudohermaphroditism, and (4) Mixed gonadal dysgenesis. (There are some additional minor subgroups, as well). Only mixed gonadal dysgenesis is a 45 X / 46 XY mosaic (not 46 XX/XY). The rest have standard karyotypes - XX for #1 and #2, XY for #3. A true hermaphrodite has a 46 XX karyotype, but has had a translocation of the short arm of the Y chromosome into an autosome, which then codes for "testes-determining factor", allowing for the development of testes. In any case, you're right, I used "hermaphrodite" incorrectly. What's more, AIS doesn't even fall into "intersex," as there are no ambiguous genitalia.

The fact that the term "hermaphrodite" has been assumed by pornographers does not prevent its continued use in medicine. Furthermore, "intersex" is not a replacement for the term, but rather a broader definition incompassing several abnormalities. It's use has begun to fall out of favor, however, as a survey of something like PubMed will show.

But regardless of any PC outrage, it's a legitimate term.
#14
Old 06-28-2004, 02:02 PM
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AIS is considered a form of intersexuality by all the intersexual groups I've seen out there. Intersexuality also covers a much broader range of dysmorphisms (most of which are not related to any chromosomal abnormality), including relatively common "defects" such as megaclitoris and hypospadias.

At least, that's how the term is used by the ISNA. I think they'd know what they're talking about; I'm going to take their word over yours. You might also look at what they have to say about "hermaphrodite" before you use the word again.

MPSIMS is not the place to spread scurrilous rumors. IMO, that's being a jerk, which is a behavior not permitted anywhere on these Boards.
#15
Old 06-28-2004, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyM
AIS is considered a form of intersexuality by all the intersexual groups I've seen out there. Intersexuality also covers a much broader range of dysmorphisms (most of which are not related to any chromosomal abnormality), including relatively common "defects" such as megaclitoris and hypospadias.

At least, that's how the term is used by the ISNA. I think they'd know what they're talking about; I'm going to take their word over yours. You might also look at what they have to say about "hermaphrodite" before you use the word again.

MPSIMS is not the place to spread scurrilous rumors. IMO, that's being a jerk, which is a behavior not permitted anywhere on these Boards.
There's a big difference between what a hodge-podge group of patients who get together over a common stigma wish to be called, and which terminology is used medically. I'll make no allowance for what should be used as correct terminology. That can be left up to the pediatric endocrinologists - and any flip through an endocrinology or urology textbook, a medical dictionary, or searching for "hermaphrodite" in the literature (like this) will show that it is still very much in use - whether you or the ISNA agree it should be.

Unfortunately or fortunately, medical terms don't take into account etymolological correctness or the stigmata that laymen attach to them - rather, they only seek to classify and describe. If you wish to eliminate every medical term that is either poorly named because it was first described before the pathophysiology was worked out, or because it causes a sub-group of patients to suffer some sort of emotional distress - then you'd be left with very little to describe disease.

And, of course, I only brought it up to begin with to defame Ms. Curtis' character. I didn't make specific reference to how science can be used to seemingly support a previously unsupportable rumor.
#16
Old 06-28-2004, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
First of all, to those who think I'm the least bit serious - I'm not.
Ah. So you posted with the intent of provoking a reaction. That's all I needed to hear.

Bye.
#17
Old 06-28-2004, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
One should just as easily be offended by being termed a "diabetic."
We prefer the term "glucose aware".
#18
Old 06-28-2004, 06:44 PM
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Ah. So you posted with the intent of provoking a reaction. That's all I needed to hear.
Jeez, man, overdramatic much?
#19
Old 06-28-2004, 07:30 PM
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If you folks wanna debate terminology, take it to Great Debates.

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for the SDMB
#20
Old 06-29-2004, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limbic
One should just as easily be offended by being termed a "diabetic."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
We prefer the term "glucose aware".
"Metabolically challenged."
#21
Old 06-30-2004, 08:25 PM
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Actually "hermaphroditism" IS found in modern medical literature - almost always as a term layman use for a condition more specifically named, and with the caution that many people find it uncomfortable or offensive. This spring I did see a published article/picture of a child with "true hermaphroditism", pointing out that it is an EXTREMELY rare condition and that other forms of ambigous genitalia or sexual status were more common. (The child in question was an infant, thus with no secondary sexual characteristics. Also undisputably had a vagina, penis, and at least on testicle. Apparently on closer examination also had an ovary. Genes were XX/XY mosaic. Poor dear also had a sort of piebald skin effect going, too - apparently the XX and XY cells coded for significantly different skin colors as well)

Rather like the terms "midget" and "dwarf", which have distinct meanings in medicine but have become so stigmatized in ordinary spech they're being driven from the medical literature as well, or hedged about so as to not cause offense. Already has happened to "moron", "imbecile', and "idiot" which, again, once had very distinct definitions but have been supplanted by terms like "mentally retarded" and "developmentally delayed".

Personally, I like "ambiguous" when talking about those of ...welll... ambiguous sexual characteristics. It does describe the situation, after all, and its the ambiguity that causes the social problems. Although it doesn't apply to folks with the extreme form of AIS. With the AIS "XY female" situation the external genitalia are UNambiguously female.

By the way - I don't believe Jamie Lee has AIS because she's not feminine enough in appearance. I've seen pictures of those girls and if anything they look more feminine than average women do.
#22
Old 06-30-2004, 08:48 PM
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I personally don't like the term "hermaphrodite" because it is, to the common ear, not particularly descriptive. I agree with KellyM and Otto that some other term should be found which is more acceptable, more descriptive, and more sensitive for use in casual conversation. And I agree with the general consensus that JLC's genetic structure and sexual development is of nobody's business but her own.

However... the term does appear in my ICD-9 book (2003 edition) classifying diseases, disorders, dysfunctions, conditions, and symptoms:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICD-9 2003
752.7 Indeterminate sex and pseudohermaphroditism
gynandrism
hermaphroditism
ovotestis
pseudohermaphroditism (male) (female)
pure gonadal dysgenesis
DEF: Pseudohermaphroditism: presence of gonads of one sex and external genitalia of other sex
Excludes: pseudohermaphroditism (female, with adrenocortical disorder 255.2), pseudohermaphroditism (male, with gonadal disorder 257.8), pseudohermaphroditism (with specified chromosomal anomaly 758.0-758.9), testicular feminization syndrome 257.8
The bolded definition is also to be found here, Dept. of Medical Oncology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. The term is used, evidently. But like the mod said, whether it should be used is another argument.
#23
Old 07-01-2004, 09:01 PM
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While you guys debate this, I'm going to watch her do that stripper dance in True Lies .
#24
Old 07-01-2004, 09:46 PM
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How did that rumor even get started in the first place?
#25
Old 07-01-2004, 10:55 PM
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Well.

First of all, who cares? Beyond, perhaps, her immediate family.... who might be excused for taking an interest in the question. Except that from what I just read, it isn't likely to impact their lives in any real way even if true, so why should they?


Since you offer no proof, you yourself admit that there is no evidence, and I see no reason why you should feel the need to bring this up here, I can only think that you are in fact exhibiting jerklike behavior.

I'm with KellyM on this one.

Regards,

Scotti
#26
Old 07-02-2004, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinastasia
How did that rumor even get started in the first place?
It's dogged several female stars who are childless and seem a little too "strong" to be "truly feminine". It's either "secretly lesbian" or "secretly intersexed/AIS". Nicole Kidman is another example of an actress who's had such things whispered about her. But Jamie Lee Curtis seems to be the most common target by far, and I'm not sure why. Part of it may be her name -- some have even suggested that her androgynous name is because her sex was ambiguous at birth, although I believe the real story is that her parents picked it out before she was born because it would be good for a boy or a girl.
#27
Old 07-02-2004, 07:36 AM
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Ahem. Y'all might really want to check out a series of books that I, personally, find highly entertaining and informative.

From Adams, Cecil, "The Straight Dope Tells All," 1998, Ballantine Publishing Group, pp 171-172. Responding to chitchat back and forth from posters on the SDMB re the sexuality of one Jamie Lee Curtis:

CecilAdams:
Quote:
Fun, fun, kids, but let's get serious. The sole evidence for the belief that Jamie Lee Curtis suffers from hermaphroditism, testicular feminization, or what have you is that:

1. She has slim hips.
2. Her kids are adopted.

Not to cast aspersions on any of the contributors above, but they had better evidence at the Salem witchcraft trials. I'm not about to call up Ms. Curtis and ask because, first, I would have every expectation of being told to buzz off; second, if she did answer and denied the story, no one would believe her; and third, it is no damn business of mine or yours anyway.

Then again, maybe I'm just being old fashioned. Maybe NOBODY should have secrets. Tell you what, Wheatley, pull down your pants and let Dr. Tyson take a look.
Therein says the Master. Let us speak no more of the matter.
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