News Stories

Do You Know What Sex You Are?

President Bush has criticized professional athletes for using steroids. These were heavily used in the former East Germany, to the extent that one female athlete, who was given steroids from a young age, decided to have an operation to become a man. Andreas Krieger, born a woman but now a married man, says, "They killed Heidi." And in a surprising number of newborn babies, doctors can't tell what sex they are, so a sex is assigned to them.

In the January 26 New York Times, Jere Longman quotes Krieger as saying, "People should know what happened, what side effects can be generated." When he was a teenaged girl, his coaches gave him massive doses of steroids and told him they were vitamins. After two years of this, according to Longman, "she weighed 220 pounds, had a deep voice, increased body and facial hair and appeared mannish." When she first talked to a doctor about having a sex change operation, the doctor asked her, "So you want to change from a man to a woman?" He believes the steroids gave him no choice but to stop being female. "They pushed [me] out of [my] sex?I didn?t have control. I couldn?t find out for myself which sex I wanted to be."

Joanna Schaffhausen writes for abcnews.com that as many as 1 in 2,000 babies is born with ambiguous genitalia, so they are neither male nor female. It's up to the parents, and their doctor, to decide. Genetically and hormonally male babies that are born with a birth defect called cloacal exstrophy, which gives them a small or non-existent penis, are often given female hormones and brought up as girls. The trouble is, when they grow up, they feel like boys. Dr. John Gearhart found that 8 of the 14 children with this defect decided to be male when they grew up, despite being raised as girls. As children, they liked to play typical male sports and games and wear boy's clothing, which is why, he says, "One very seldom does gender conversion [for this condition] anymore." "What we now know is that hormones imprint your brain," says Dr. Craig Peters. "We don't know exactly when it happens, but probably even in utero." But given enough steroids, even that can change.

Women's role in history has often been ignored, but Margaret Starbird seeks to rehabilitate the one disciple who has been abandoned by Christian tradition: Mary Magdalene. She shows how a secret numbering code in the gospels reveals the surprising true role of Magdalene, and her enormous importance to Jesus.

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