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He said or is it She said? September 29, 2009

Posted by judylobo in Links, Politics, Science, Videos.
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hermaphroditusI have had a long time interest in hermaphrodites.  100 years ago, when I taught art in an elementary school, the faculty was brought into the lounge and told that a youngster entering kindergarten was hermaphrodite and was in ‘transition.’  We were told to treat her as a girl. I was hooked. My interest in the subject began. In a biological context, a hermaphrodite is an animal or plant that has both male and female reproductive organs.  Many taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrates), do not have separate sexes (genders). In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both partners can act as the “male” or “female”. The great majority of snails and slugs are hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also found in some fish. In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus  was the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. Born a remarkably handsome boy, he was transformed into an androgynous being by union with the nymph Salmacis.

caster-semenya-514There have been rumors for years that certain celebrities fall into this biological category.  The most famous name would be, Jamie Leigh Curtis. More recent names to surface have included Lady (or now, perhaps, Senor) Gaga, Fergie, Nicole Kidman (I kid you not) and  Chyna (Joanie Laurer).

We all recently heard of the young South African athlete, Semenya, who won gold in the 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships and after some drug testing was discovered to be hermaphrodite.  The sports world is flummoxed.  What to do?  What to do?

–  caster-semanya-makeover-you-magazineFrom this week’s New York Times comes this article about Martha Maxine, a five year old horse who is now listed as male but has raced for her whole life as a female.  I had never thought much about hermaphrodites as happening in other species, but after thinking about it – I said ‘why not’?

There is a great novel called Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was published in 2002 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2003.

So why am I posting this blog?  It is an interesting topic that should be brought out of the closets, woodwork, ceilings, or wherever it hides and education needs to happen. I found an interesting post on The Daily Beast about this issue. Intersex is the name that this group of misunderstood people now wants to be called.  I am formally changing my thought process to ‘intersex.’

‘The intersex-rights movement seeks the same things most civil-rights struggles seek: mainstream acceptance, equality under the law, the right to safely be “out. And – they don’t want to be called “hermaphrodites. –  The term ‘hermaphrodite’ is stigmatizing and confusing,” says Alice Domurat Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University who is cited regularly by intersex individuals and advocates. “It usually suggests to people that someone has all the organs of males and females—but that is not physically possible. The medical profession came to a consensus about three years ago to get rid of all terms based on the root ‘hermaphrodite’ (including ‘pseudo-hermaphrodite’) because they are stigmatizing and confusing.”’ ‘But perhaps the No. 1 goal of the intersex-rights movement is literally the right to exist. Every day in hospital maternity wards, intersex babies are born to freaked-out parents who’ve never even heard of such a thing, parents in a highly emotional state who are offered the immediate opportunity to surgically alter their child. Reducing the number of these surgeries is something intersex activists see as fundamental to their cause.’

–  Hermaphroditus in Ancient Greece by Gregory Zorzos

–  Today is a voting day in New York City.  There is a run-off between the Mark Green and Bill DeBlasio for Public Advocate and David Yassky and John Liu for Comptroller. I am voting for Mark Green because he and his family saved Air America and because most big politicians hate him since he is a pain in the ass.  That is a good enough reason for me to vote for him.  I am also voting for David Yassky.  Turnout should be awful and because there is virtually no Republican opponents the winner of today’s races will surely win in November.

–  It seems that Sarah Palin has finished her memoirs four short months after announcing that she was writing a book.  Four months?  Yikes.  I guess if you do not have much to write about you can complete your memoirs in four months.

–  My head is about to explode now that abortion has entered the health care ‘debate’. Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call. Opponents of abortion cite as precedent a 30-year-old ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions.

–  Rachel Maddow on the Truth About The Lies About Acorn.  Some interesting food for thought.