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Gulf War Vet Discusses Intersexuality


The case of elite South African runner Caster Semenya brought international focus to the issue of intersexuality, for better or for worse. This Saturday, the National Geographic Channel examines the topic of gender ambiguity on its Explorer series, including an account by Gulf War veteran Rudy Alaniz, who discovered through an MRI that he possessed ovaries and a womb.

Alaniz drove transport trucks in the Gulf War, after which he was treated for a back injury at a military hospital in Germany. During that time, as he recalls in the video below, an MRI revealed that his anatomy included ovaries and a "small, underdeveloped womb."

"So I'm not a boy and I'm not a girl," Alaniz said. "I'm not a man and I'm not a woman. And that made me feel dead inside. That is where instead of just being confused and depressed and feeling a loss, then it's, 'I'm not even human.' That's where I really felt like a freak of nature," he said.

Scientists say that thousands of people around the world are born intersexed each year, often possessing extra chromosomes that give them gender characteristics that do not conform to the binary system of male and female. In the case of Alaniz, who possesses XXY chromosomes, he suspects that his gender was decided at birth through surgery.

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Julie Bolcer