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It has been estimated that as many as 1 in 2,000 children born in the United States are diagnosed with ambiguous external genitalia, of whom a very small percentage undergo "sex reassignment" surgery in infancy.The specific condition most often attributed to Ms. People born with AIS are genetically male (defined as having one X and one Y chromosome) but are resistant to androgens, the hormones responsible for male sexual development.Which leaves us, at the end of our investigation, in exactly the same place we started: face-to-face with an unsubstantiated rumor.

First used as such in the 15th century, ) for a set of conditions characterized mainly by genitalia which are either "ambiguous" (i.e., not clearly male or female) or at odds with the subject's chromosomal gender.

Depending on the specific symptoms, hermaphroditism/intersexuality may be the result of a genetic anomaly or a hormonal excess or deficiency during gestation.

But a rumor is still a rumor, even from the lips of a board-certified physician.

All the more so, in fact, given that any physician who actually treated Curtis couldn't have revealed such information without violating patient confidentiality laws.

This typically means that the organs on the inside are of one sex, while the organs on the outside are of another sex; for example, a hermaphrodite might have a penis and testicles, but inside, there are ovaries and possibly a uterus.

In more rare cases, the chromosomes say a person is male or female, but the genitals say otherwise.

"At puberty, female secondary sex characteristics (e.g., breasts) develop, but menstruation and fertility do not."It bears pointing out that Ms.

Curtis was neither the first nor the last female celebrity to whom gender ambiguity has been attributed.

Celebrities are always telling us that fame has its downsides, lurid gossip being one of them, and few could make a better case than actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who for two decades has been saddled with rumors that she was a hermaphrodite at birth (or, as it has been more crudely put, "born with a penis").

This has never been proven, mind you, but most folks seem satisfied with the argument that the info was passed along by a friend of a friend who happens to know a doctor who was told about it once in medical school, so it , the name given to the son of the ancient Greek gods Hermes and Aphrodite.

According to mythology, Hermaphroditus was so loved by the nymph Salmacis that she prayed they could be united as one person — and literally got her wish.